I know it's particularly strange to do this post after one about meat, but that's the reality of life for a lot of people in America right now...we're just trying to do the best we can to make our eating habits accord with things we are passionate about, and those things are complicated, not to mention our desires get in the way. There is a low-volume battle being waged between two sets of celebrity vegans. On one side are the "Skinny Bitches" about whom my father recently read an article which mentioned the vegan BBQ ribs we like, and on the other the women who wrote Vegonomicon, which was a holiday gift to me from my Aunt Mindy. Apparently the Veganomicon women, one of whom is named Isa Moskowitz, were interviewed on NPR recently and my father said "I think these are those Skinny Bitch women" and my mother said "Noooo, it doesn't sound like it to me. They sound nice."
This is, as I've stated many times before, a Health At Any Size website. We do size acceptance here. One of the more problematic phenomena surrounding the success of the SB line is how often people buy them because "I want to be a skinny bitch." I'm not getting into the issues surrounding the reclamation of 'bitch,' but I am deeply troubled by using veganism to promote weight loss. One of the SB writers actually used to work for models in some way. And although the book apparently does occasionally interrupt its snark to advocate for loving one's body, in this culture people see the rail-thin authors and the word 'skinny,' as well as the overt message from others that fat people don't deserve self esteem, and and they read it as 'love your body when it looks a certain way.' Don't even get me started on those new ads for the Body Challenge or whatever nonsense, with the women looking at their future slimmer images in the store window. Then the ad goes equal opportunity by making fun of how disgusting a fat man is. The clear message is that they are happy because they are going to change, not because they love themselves as they are. And we all know how successful weight loss from one's natural weight is after five years (answer: not very).
Being a vegan is about either believing that the use of animal products is ineluctably wrong or that the current treatment of most animals used in food production is unethical. You may, like me, also believe that a modified vegan diet makes you feel healthier. It is not about being the latest way to create a starvation diet. The beginning of eating disorders is often masked by a need to 'eat healthier' which leads to more and more restricted eating. And since most women's eating is disordered in some sense already by the obsessive need to judge and measure what we eat, veganism becomes one more way in which to find ourselves wanting. Our culture's obsession with the control of women (I was blown away by the Naomi Klein quote that a dieting population is a population in quiet madness) needs to have fewer outlets to express itself, not to use a truly ethical movement to further its goals.