For the past 3 years now I have joined in veganuary. The first time I joined I did it because I noticed eating vegetarian food made cheese a bit of a crutch for me and I can’t have as much cheese as I did before I turned 35, which is… a while ago now.
To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever even made it the full stretch. But I still like it as a start to the new year, because it helps me reset my eating habits, inspires me to think outside of my staples and helps me reconsider how I shop. Vegan food is excellent for all of these things.
I’ve got beef
Beyond liking cheese and meat too much to ever fully give it up, as a lot of POC and women who don’t fit an idealized body type, I have a more ideological beef with veganism.
What disturbs me is how it’s become more of a superficial fitspo fitgirl beauty trend shilling oppressive Christian ideals about ‘purity’. My dear friend Flavia Dzodan wrote an excellent piece about how these ideas of purity permeate our ideas surrounding food, and sadly at this point, veganism is no exception.
Because of the way this group has embraced and remarketed veganism, rather than a way to save humanity and our environment (because as George Carlin said, the planet will be fine) large scale exploitative food producers like Nestle, Unilever and McDonalds are joining in the vegan ‘fun’. With big companies like this comes mass production and destruction, and well, then it’s always going to be the Global South that is going to be fucked.
Veganism has a Western imperialism problem
Moreover, beyond the affluent West, no one else has been over-consuming, meat or otherwise, to the point of leaving the planet in ruins.
You could argue that they would if they had the chance to, but they haven’t, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Or you could say that they’re starting up now, but it’s kind of a dick move to say they can’t because we already ruined the planet before them.
So to preach veganism to people of color or those living in the Global South, where we’ve basically added taking their food to feed our live stock to now taking their food-food to make vegan shit, is just plain arrogant, imperialist and racist.
This is a Chinese hotpot, you engorged penis
It could be made with nothing but vegan ingredients and it would still be delicious and you’d still be a xenophobic tool https://t.co/TIq3malJTJ
— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) December 29, 2018
You can even question if eating meat in non-Northern European climates is as damaging as it is specifically for the part of the world where I reside.
On the other hand, lots of cultures have used mostly- or all-animal diets.
E.g. the Bedouin, Mongols, Maasai, Inuit, etc.
What do these have in common? They’re in places that are either very dry or very cold. Either the plants that grow are very sparse & tough, or none at all.
— Dr Sarah Taber (@SarahTaber_bww) June 12, 2018
Still doing it
So I am going vegan for January, hypocritically as a reboot to hopefully shed some pounds and then also as a reboot to rethink my consumption and eating habits.
Really my goal for the new year is to consume more wisely. I want to work less hours, which means I will earn less money. Mainly I’ve just been shopping and eating as therapy, and I’d like for that to stop and put this energy into more productive ventures. Like writing and photography.
Of course none of the above are reasons not to go vegan, but they are all reasons to reconsider what it means to go vegan. If your tofu or soy milk is causing cancer to local populations and taking food out of their mouths maybe you need to reconsider where you get it from.
Support local business
Ultimately this year I want to start supporting local small businesses and avoiding large supermarket chains. It’s the big supermarkets who feed into and remarket food trends, drive up demand and drive down prices to lower cost, at the expense of all suppliers down the line.
I have a local butcher who works with local farmers, I have local small POC-owned grocery stores all around me. I should be able to feed into the machine a little less than I have been. What are your plans for the new year?