Harmless, or Harmful?
I'm a pretty slim person and have been for the last decade or so. For much of my childhood, however, I was overweight and was bullied because of it, like so many children are. I lost weight in my teens (not in a good way) and then gained, and so the yo-yo life began. I gained just over one hundred pounds with my first pregnancy (people who didn't know me then never believe this, but it's absolutely true) and it took me years to lose it, and then I gained just over eighty pounds with the second pregnancy and lost it again. Gained and lost, gained and lost, repeat. Too many of us know what this is like, and too many of us judge our self worth by this. It's ridiculous, and it's sad, but it's unfortunately the truth. I'm guilty of this as well, I think a lot of women are.
About ten years ago I went back to work after staying home with my children for years. My new job was very physical and the weight dropped off and stayed off. I wasn't vegan then, only vegetarian. I took up running for the second time in my life and remembered how much I loved it. I ate well and have continued to do this with occasional slip ups, I'm human after all. A year ago I saw middle aged muffin top creeping up on me and I quit drinking and worked on myself a little more. My point: I wanted to be healthier and so I made that my goal; the weight loss was a side effect of that.
Since I've been vegan I hear constantly “Oh, well that's why you're slim, you don't eat anything”. I've given up correcting people – people believe what they want to believe. It's such a misconception. There are vegan pizzas and vegan cupcakes (I have some killer ones in my freezer), and vegan brownies, and vegan pies, and vegan butter, and vegan cheese – well you get the idea. Fun Fact: I'm told (and I haven't confirmed this) that Oreos are vegan. I know right? Pillsbury dough is “accidentally” vegan. So theoretically, I could have Oreos for breakfast and pastry for lunch and brownies for supper. And if I did do that, and I was a larger person I don't believe people would comment on my size so freely. Bottom line: it's really nobody's business. People have health issues, and genetics, and culture choices etc to infinity; that contribute to their physicality, and perhaps they just don't spend every waking moment contemplating their size; there is so much more to life and so much of this is directed towards women; it's very disheartening.
Where am I going with this rambling? I'll tell you. Being vegan is no different from being anything else. I don't eat vegan to be slim. I eat vegan because I believe strongly in a do no harm (or at least as little harm as possible) mentality. I'm not on a diet, I'm not cutting out animal products for vanity. There are slim vegans, there are medium vegans and there are large vegans. There are “junk food” vegans, and raw food vegans and everything in between vegans. Surprise! We're regular people. Veganism isn't a diet, it's a choice directed by our views on sentient beings and our unwillingness to harm them.
I am slim. I have been large. I have been medium. I have been sick (very). I have been healthy. Many of my recent choices (yoga, hiking, abstaining from alcohol) are based largely on keeping my health now that I have it back – not everyone is so lucky. And you know what? Every so often I stuff my face with cupcakes – they're vegan – but they're still damned good cupcakes! What bothers me the most is how we (society) have to put everyone into a “type”. We all need to chill and stop commenting on other people's appearance and what they eat or don't eat, and how they live their lives. I think the “do no harm” philosophy can go a lot further than what we decide to have for lunch.