Remaining positive about our bodies and keeping our head above the water of diet culture is a constant struggle.[Content Note: This article will discuss the use of the word “diet” in both a general sense and a restriction sense. The point of this post is to help dismantle diet culture and educate those on the effects of it. I understand if just reading the word is triggering for some folx. Please take care of yourself.] When a doctor asks you about your diet they mean, of course, what foods you consume to keep you alive. Unless you’ve told them that you’re dieting, they generally don’t mean the restriction of calories and foods that your body needs (until of course, they do meant that). This is probably the most neutral manner in which we use this word and it’s still triggering and violent. The word diet needs to be stricken from our vocabulary until we’ve moved beyond diet culture as a society. Diet in the most neutral terms means just the food you eat. “My diet consists of meats, veggies, fruits, and grains,” for example or “I’m trying to maintain a vegan diet”. This is however, not how we use the word most often. The vast majority of the time when we speak of diet, we are talking about dieting. “How’s your diet going? Did you try this new diet? I’m on a new diet!” are all common phrases that we hear all around us in our everyday lives. Which is why if someone asks you how your diet is and they legitimately mean “are you getting enough nutrients” most of us make the immediate association to “are you restricting enough?” Diet is a weighted word that has come to mean, by and large, the act of dieting and food restriction. Even in body positive, no-diet talk spaces, using the word diet to speak of food choices colors all further conversation with the idea of restriction and all that comes with it. Well meaning suggestions are suddenly suspect and in the back of our mind we hear that programmed, little voice that is telling us that whatever we’re eating, it’s too much, it’s not right. Kicking up this mental storm causes us to fall back into the same habits that diet culture supports. What Sonya Renee Taylor in her book, The Body Is Not An Apology calls the “Body-Shame Profit Complex (BSPC)” which speaks of how shame is used against us but is also the same mechanism as diet culture that sets the stage for companies to profit from out our self-hate. It is also a tool that keeps people, especially femme presenting people, oppressed. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a negative effect on masculine folx, because it does, it is just that it is marketed much more heavily to femme folx.
Give people of color space to care for themselves, deal with the hurdles life provides, and to generally live their goddamn lives compared to exerting the constant pressure of joining a movement that, so far, doesn’t seem to care about them.By Gloria Oladipo Brace yourself: I am proud vegan. But, not that proud. While I recognize and appreciate the value of veganism in a world rampant with increased health ailments and environmental crises, veganism remains a fairly inaccessible and ‘white’ movement. An introspective veganism movement, one with a more inclusive focus, is critical. It will be hard to reform veganism, but it can be done. Many tangible efforts can be made to create a more encompassing veganism movement for all:
Cooking “cultural” vegan foodFor many cultures, meat tends to be a prominent ingredient. This can make efforts to reduce people’s reliance on meat seem an appropriation of ethnic recipes. To counteract this, it’s important that trying to “veganize” ethnic recipes comes from people of that ethnicity compared to white vegans trying to “spread the good word”. For example, there are clear differences between a white-owned vegan soul food restaurant opening up in Harlem compared to a black-owned version opening up in Chicago’s Southside: one is a classic case of “culture vultures” while the other is a move towards a more sustainable and healthy way of eating supported by community members. Additionally, it is key to remind people who talk about the cultural centricity of meat that non-meat eating cultures do exist. Jainism, an ancient religion from India focused on harmlessness as a means of liberation, Hinduism, and Buddhism are just a few groups that don’t eat meat and instead promote plant-based diets.
Making produce more accessibleA major tenet of veganism is a renewed focus on a plant-based. However, for those who live in a food desert, an occurrence that happens in mostly minority communities, constantly buying fruits and vegetables can be near impossible. It is important that vegans take an active interest in trying to make produce more accessible by supporting community gardens and encouraging similar initiatives. Groups such as Growing Power, a nonprofit based in Milwaukee, WI with an active Chicago office, has started many programs in Chicago that bring gardening into vulnerable communities and engage residents in the growing and buying process. Growing Power and groups like it are always looking for volunteers and funding — needs that vegans can and should meet.
Dear Virgie, about a week into her diet, my friend started distancing herself from me. She stopped reaching out and communication went dark. Dear Virgie, My closest friend and I are having a struggle. We’ve known each other for about one and a half
As I watch my husband not-even-consciously opt out of this obsessive bullshit, I can’t help but sit back in awe and wonder how I can get some of that for myself. (Content warning: discussion of food and dieting) My husband has the
Dear Virgie, Do you have suggestions for engaging with "un-woke" fats? I have tried to bring up FA (fat acceptance) with folks who are still very entrenched in self-loathing, fat phobia and diet culture, and I find myself floundering for ways