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Stuck in the Middle. Vegans hate fat people, Fat Acceptance people hate vegans. Where do I go?

January 16, 2014

Weight LossFat PoliticsFat HealthEating DisordersMy Boring-Ass LifeDickweedDiet Talk

Trigger warning: Discussion of veganism as a weight-loss diet and disordered eating.

I know, y’all might be tired of me talking about veganism all of the time, but it definitely has a special brand of fat hate. There was the Plan V that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals… and objectification of women) pulled, along with PETA’s classic fat hate. But let’s be honest. it’s not just PETA pulling this shit.

What prompted this little rant? I went over to /r/vegan on reddit today and literally the first video I clicked on had fat hate in less than 30 seconds (and please, if you’re on reddit, please feel free to add a body positive comment to that video). The video opens with a man standing in front of McDonald’s saying that he’s planning on showing kids slaughterhouse videos. That’s the whole premise of the video. But he’s standing in front of a handicapped parking sign and at one point he says that McDonald’s has special parking when you become too fat or too immobilized to move.

Wow, just wow.

I’ve seen the studies people have pushed at me claiming that veg’s are thinner than meat eaters and I can tell you, it’s pretty much bullshit. There’s about a five pound difference and no study takes into account starting weight before going veg; meaning the people who go veg could, in general, be slightly thinner to begin with. This makes sense as veganism and vegetarianism has been picked up as another fad diet and health craze. One of those studies even refused to use vegans over a certain weight.

Vegans like to completely ignore the existence of fat vegans or, if they acknowledge us, we’re eating the wrong foods, stuffing our faces with Oreos and vegan cupcakes and fries all of the time. We’re bad for business, bad for the image of veganism. VegNews magazine on Facebook the other day posted a status about vegans needing to exude a healthy look to make veganism look as positive and tempting as possible. This ignores the fact that thin vegans eat junk food too and that, well, no one like a pretentious pompous health nut trying to act like they’re better than you because you had a candy bar while they munched on kale leaves.

But it’s not just all on vegans. I see quite a lot of veg hate from fat activists comparing veganism to disordered eating, eating disorders, starvation diets, etc. Veganism is mentioned casuallyVegan as something that skinny body policing yuppies do, again, completely ignoring the fact that there are fat vegans and even body positive fat vegans. Remember, veganism is a moral stance, not a diet.

If you eat a plant-based diet but still live a non-vegan life (e.g., wearing fur, leather, wool, using products tested on animals) then you’re not a vegan, you’re someone who follows a plant-based diet, a strict vegetarian. The point of me bringing up the fact that it’s not a diet is that because it’s not a diet it doesn’t clash with body positivity, Health At Every Size® (HAES), intuitive eating, or Fat Acceptance.

I’ve had an eating disorder, thanks very much! And veganism is most definitely not an eating disorder. Though with any “fad diet” (thank you asshats for turning it into that), it can be used for ill purposes, but most people just want to love animals and be left alone.

I’m tired of my ethical choices being used as a nail in the coffin for the body acceptance police and health zealots. Please just stop bashing vegans. Criticize the fatphobic ones! Criticize PETA! Do it! But please don’t generalize and pretend like we’re all bad people who hate fat people. Some of us are fat people and some of us want so badly to just be able to be fat and vegan without comment.

I’m stuck in the middle. I can’t talk to Fat Acceptance people about veganism and I can’t talk to vegans or be a part of their community because I’m fat. My husband has the same problem. We’re a part of all of these communities, but separate from them as well. It makes us feel stuck and lost and hopeless. Is there anywhere that we fit in? Anywhere it’s okay to be ourselves? If everyone could just stop being a dick to each other, that would be fantastic!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2014 12:14 pm

    I may not eat the same way you do, but damn it, you’re pretty damn awesome in my book. Thanks for writing about this. It’s a shame folks on both sides choose to ignore the people in the middle. 😦

  2. Duckie permalink
    January 16, 2014 12:15 pm

    I support you in being exactly who you are and I love that you are not just open, but beautifully bombastic about it!

  3. vesta44 permalink
    January 16, 2014 12:22 pm

    I’m sorry that your being a vegan and fat puts you at odds with both communities. I’ve never understood why a community (like veganism or FA/SA) just can’t seem to accept the fact that not all of us fit into some cookie cutter mold of how we’re “supposed” to look/act.
    There are people in FA/SA whose views I don’t agree with (not all of them, anyway). I don’t want to be a vegan or a vegetarian – I already have a limited amount of foods I can eat without gastric distress, going vegan or vegetarian would further limit those choices. But I’m not about to tell anyone what they can or can’t eat, what they can or can’t espouse as a part of FA/SA, nor am I going to tell them what their body should like.
    For crying out loud, we don’t come off some assembly line that makes each one of us exactly the same as everyone else and then we become different because we made the “wrong” food choices, or the “wrong” exercise choices, or the “wrong” religious choices, or the “wrong” whatever choices. We’re each unique individuals, with all of the diversity that entails, and we’re each entitled to live our lives as we see fit, without judgment from anyone else.

  4. Pyctsi permalink
    January 16, 2014 12:38 pm

    The friends I have that are vegan or vegetarian only tell me for the same reason I ask about food allergies, so I can find a place that has the best selection for everyone when we have a get together, they also don’t make gagging noises or rude comments when others order meat, so I suspect those that do are just doucheweasels, they are looking to portray themselves as superior so need to make as big a deal about their choices as possible so everyone knows they are superior. Kinda like the people that start a diet then feel the need to talk about what everyone else is eating.

    I have to wonder if these people missed lessons in manners as children.

    I don’t care what someone else’s personal choices are as long as they do not hurt others or try to force others to make the same choices. When I plan meets for a wide group of people I deliberately choose places that have a reasonable selection of vegan options so that everyone feels welcome, but I’m not going to try to find an all vegan place (unless they have the best tasting food) just because one or two people in the group are vegan and not a single one of my friends has ever had a problem with that because they respect my personal choices.

    I suspect I have more friends than I know that are vegan, but since we’ve never had a meal together, it’s never come up as it isn’t relevant to most of our relationship.

  5. January 16, 2014 4:22 pm

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    Somewhat off topic, this is how I feel about being an agnostic. The religious lot hate me and think I’m going to hell because I don’t believe in their particular interpretation of God. The Atheists hate me because I believe in anything at all. Before I get bashed for saying this, I’m talking about hard-liners, not about moderates who can live and let live.
    Back on topic, there is a certain brand of sanctimonious vegans who make everyone else look bad. I personally do not paint all people with the same brush. I don’t care if someone is a vegan, a vegetarian, or an omnivore, just as I don’t care if someone is an atheist, religious, or an agnostic, just so long as nobody is shoving their particular brand of eating or thinking down my throat!
    It’s a shame that you have to deal with this. It’s doubtful that I could ever be a vegan–I like cheese way too much. But I always enjoy your recipes. Personally, I don’t look at whether a recipe is vegan, vegetarian, or what have you–I just want it to taste good!
    My soapbox is about getting rid of factory farming. Factory farming is inhumane in the extreme, and the meat coming from livestock that has been factory farmed is unhealthy for consumers.

    • LittleBigGirl permalink
      January 19, 2014 9:47 pm

      I’m with you. I enjoy eating meat, but I am conflicted because I know the breeding/living/slaughter conditions of the animals we raise for food are often cruel. I want animals to be treated well and honored. I also know that livestock would most likely just end up as food for other carnivores if they were left to their own devices. I wish people would stop hard lining and black and white-ing issues like this and come up with better, less extreme solutions. :-\

  6. Hypatia351 permalink
    January 17, 2014 1:58 am

    I’ve always thought of veganism as a way of eating that is based on a concern for animal welfare, not for health or weight loss. It was never meant to be a weight loss plan. On the FA/SA side of things, it’s good to remember that not all vegans are the same, just as not all fat people are the same. I’m sorry you’re caught in the middle, Heather. It shouldn’t have to be that way. It seems counterproductive to both causes.

  7. January 17, 2014 11:06 am

    Honestly, I can’t figure out why Mr. Reddit thinks it’s a great idea to show kids graphic footage from a slaughterhouse, either. Even without his subsequent fat-bashing, it’s a dick move.

  8. Athonwy permalink
    January 17, 2014 1:36 pm

    Thank you for making the point about Veganism not being a diet! And thank you also for being Vegan, you rock! Living here in Portland, where you can’t throw a carrot stick without hitting a Vegan, I definitely know that Vegans come in all shapes and sizes, and all levels of health. In fact, I think the largest person I know here is a Vegan, AND the thinnest person too! How’s that for diversity?! It is entirely possible to be an unhealthy Vegan, eating prepackaged food, white pastas, oreos, etc. I think it’s actually probably easier to be an unhealthy Vegan than a healthy one. Anyhow, great post, and rock on!

  9. MrsS permalink
    January 19, 2014 7:32 pm

    Vesta said: We’re each unique individuals, with all of the diversity that entails, and we’re each entitled to live our lives as we see fit, without judgment from anyone else.

    A universal truth.

  10. LittleBigGirl permalink
    January 19, 2014 9:53 pm

    Your last line really sums to up so well. 🙂
    I don’t care what anyone else eats unless they are a dick about it, or a dick to me about what I eat. People who make specific personal dietary choices always seem to fall into two groups – those who just live their lives, and those who end needing to be told to STFU. 😛

  11. Sparticles permalink
    January 20, 2014 10:43 am

    I got into veganism via vegetarianism in the 1970’s, then sequed into low fat vegan (McDougall program) as I got older (I already hit 60) for health reasons. I have high cholesterol and triglycerides, and I can get them down to near normal levels if I stick pretty strictly to the plan. But I try not to take to heart things said on the McDougall forums – they’re all a bunch of fatty haters, and Dr. McD himself is the ringleader of them. I go for the recipes, and to send PM’s to all of those other women in the same shoes as me – we follow the strictest version of the program but don’t lose weight. When I mentioned that fact years ago on the forums themselves I was told by other members the same thing doctors have been saying to me since I was a toddler – I must be cheating and eating off-plan foods. I now rarely post.
    A nice, safe vegan forum to visit is the Post Punk Kitchen, owned by top vegan author and chubster herself Isa Chandra Moskowitz ( ). She refuses to cook without fats and oils and is one of those people who feels a life without chocolate is a life not worth living. The forums are well moderated, and has an on-going thread called something like “Tired of fat shaming?” Yes, there’s also a thread populated by “weight loss peeps,” but otherwise there’s really no weight talk or discrimination on these forums. I highly recommend it.

  12. lifeonfats permalink
    January 20, 2014 5:03 pm

    I have a vegan in my family, my grandfather’s brother. I’m not sure if he is vegan because it’s a moral choice or for health reasons, but it’s never been an issue and it’s his business to eat what he wants. PETA and other zealous vegans should stop promoting the lifestyle as a way to shame others for their weight and dietary choices. They need to let people live their lives and go on with theirs.

  13. Judybat25 permalink
    January 24, 2014 6:55 am

    I have been a vegetarian for 22 years. The choice had nothing to do with weight loss. It deeply saddens me that people would try to persuade humans that we should care about other animals more, by suggesting that we care about certain humans less.

    You are more than welcome to talk about veganism and to associate with my proud, fat, vegetarian ass (and the rest of me, too). 🙂

    • January 20, 2015 12:24 am

      Yes, shielding children from the truth is far more preferable. Better that they’re kept from reality so they can be indoctrinated into the myth of human supremacy. The fact you feel this way means you know what goes on in slaughterhouses is wrong. This means you have moral concern for non human animals….which means unless you’re a vegan, your actions and your values are not in alignment.

  14. Kris Hardy permalink
    January 27, 2014 12:35 pm

    I actually have an essay on this topic that will appear in Ragen Chastain’s forthcoming book. 😀
    (I’m a vegan, an animal-rights advocate, a really fat person, and a fat-studies scholar, FWIW.)

  15. Teresa permalink
    August 1, 2014 10:00 pm

    Great writing. I’ve been vegan almost 9 years for ethical reasons and I’m greatly struggling with staying vegan due to having no support and feeling isolated as a fat vegan. I attended a vegan event over 3 years ago where a speaker stated vegans should be advocates by their “appearance” as part of the overall speech. I was devastated. I’ve never donated or returned to this organization again. (it was not PETA) Attending their events was something I looked forward to and they kept me motivated as they were the only vegan associated events I had. Now I feel like I have nothing and what’s the use. A lot of vegan types think they are so cool but some are just jerks.

  16. boris permalink
    October 2, 2014 11:09 am

    My wife and I are decently fat vegans too 🙂 I bike a lot and we actually eat super healthy. But there’s just no chance of weight loss lol. I lost 80 pounds since I started but that stopped 2 years ago justbeen this weight now for forever. I ddon’t care and don’t feel like it makes me any less healthy. My blood pressure is great, cholesterol extremely low, no fatty liver disease anymore. So really I reap all the “healthy benefits” just don’t look it. I agree though. I don’t even call myself a vegan anymore I just say I’m boycotting the livestock industry, cause I am. Wouldn’t you know it? People seem to understand that more than if you just say you’re vegan anyways. Also it doesn’t make me sound like I’m different from them cause I’m not. Its something I’m doing not something I am. It also makes it not sound like a cult. The conversion tactic for spreading anti-cruelty does NOT work. Just makes people angry and makes them push you away from them. That’s why I hate Peta and feel they’ve hurt the effort much more than if they just said “we want to shut down the livestock industry” but maybe that’s their point. Maybe they’re trying to push people away. Anyone who has any experience with religious studies KNOWS that so there’s no reason to assume they’re for anyone’s interest but their own.

  17. Joanne permalink
    February 11, 2015 5:35 pm

    Yes!!! I have been a fat vegan for 13 years. Choosing not to ever diet again, and to just eat for me eventually led to me choosing to be vegan. Being vegan led to an increased interest in social issues, and to fat acceptance. These two aspects of myself are intertwined and it is frustrating feeling as though I have to defend veganism to fat activists and defend fat acceptance to vegans!

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