Want to drop weight and become younger looking through veganism?

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Well, the Sistah Vegan Project is not the place to point you to the “answers” to these questions. I know that a plethora of pro-vegan organizations, such as PETA, love to promote these ‘deep’ reasons to change one’s diet: to ‘look’  younger and to lose weight, as this will ‘guarantee’ that you will be ‘loved’, ‘accepted’, found ‘sexy’, ‘attractive’, and furthermore, your body will represent what a ‘properly moral’ body should look like.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really troubled by the extreme focuses on pro-vegan advertisements and services that beat it into our consciousnesses, at least here in the USA, that you aren’t a ‘responsible’ and ‘moral’ citizen-consumer (and I say ‘citizen consumer’ because goddess forbid if we didn’t exist just to consume!) if you basically don’t look like the gazillion gurus and hired models out there. These people don’t represent an ‘objective’ visual representation of health and beauty. What they do represent is a white supremacist and neoliberal capitalist framing of the ‘purpose’ of veganism (and more broadly, the commoditization of ‘going green.’). These visual representations of ‘perfectly healthy’ vegan models are white, thin, young, able-bodied, 9/10 times; and if a non-white model is presented , they are almost always ‘lighter than a brown paper bag’, reinforcing structural colorism. Interestingly, for many in the USA, veganism is how we show “Ahimsa”; the commitment to do no harm and to be mindful of how our human actions cause suffering to sentient beings such as non-human animals. Shaming people into looking a certain way, causes deep suffering and pain. It is unmindful and for me, not the core of Ahimsa (and of course, this is under the assumption that you/one is practicing veganism from the Ahimsa perspective).

In addition to my troubling relationship with the above mentioned representation of the ‘purpose’  of ‘going vegan’ amongst those who are ‘selling’ this practice is also how veganism is being represented by many Black USA vegans and raw foodists (I focus on the Black demographic in the USA because it was my research emphais for the past 7 years). You may find it here, that a significant number “sell” veganism as a way to “decolonize” the body, promoting veganism as a “race conscious” approach to remedying health and wellness disparities in the Black USA community (which PETA does not do; at a matter of fact, PETA is ‘post-racial’ and assumes everyone has a white middle class consumerist relationship to health/food access and consumption). I very much appreciate the intention behind “race conscious” veganism, but I am quite disappointed to see that their collective rhetoric can be quite classist, heteronormative, transphobic, ableist, and sizest too. It’s like a ‘race conscious’ approach that acknowledges how racial hierarchies of power have negatively affected Black people in the USA…. but then they go and incorporate all the other legacies of European colonial whiteness, like obsession over bodily purity, and that purity can only be represented through whole foods veganism, which will produce more ‘pure’ bodies that are ‘not gender confused’ or ‘not gay’. Even though not all Black vegan gurus in the USA do not represent Afrocentric veganism, it seems like the underlying theme in Afrocentric vegan health movement is that the white European carnicentric turned carnicentric-industrialized-processed diet is the reason why there are ‘so many’ trans people of African descent in the USA, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual, people of African descent. The diet has caused them to have ‘impure’ behaviors and actions that are ‘innate’ behavioral patterns of white European descended people. Apparently, before the Black consumption of KFC, Koolaid, Cheetos, and ‘slavery induced Soul Food’ , LGBTQ Black people didn’t exist! (sigh)

Unlike ‘gurus’ like Dr. Lalila Afrika who have publicly stated that homosexuality and “gender-confused” people of African descent are ‘impure’ and can be cured through a whole foods vegan diet, Queen Afua does not make these claims in her Sacred Woman text at all. Even though I speak much about Queen Afua’s Sacred Woman as a book that helped me cure my fibroids through her Afrocentric veganism, I was distracted and unsettled by the assumption that all women of African descent reading her book are heteronormative and in a relationship with a man of African descent.

These are my thoughts; pretty much in the style of “stream of consciousness” today. However, I am sharing this with you and if you are interested in digging deeper into these issues above, I invite you to participate in the 1st annual Sistah Vegan Conference. This conference will not proselytize veganism or teach participants ‘how to lose weight’, ‘look healthier’, or look at veganism purely through a privileged neoliberal consumerist perspective. Keynote speakers and presenters will be engaging black feminism, critical animal studies, queer theory, disability studies, decolonial praxis, and fat studies to name a few, as entrees into examining topics such as culture of health, bodily aesthetics, non-human animal compassion, consumerism as it not relates to veganism; talks will be presented through the perspectives of non-white identified females/womyn/transfolk.

To find out more about this upcoming conference on September 14, 2013, please go here.

If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. When Sistah Vegan becomes a well supported non-profit, I hope to offer a diversity of educational material (webinars, workshops, books, articles) that guide people through ways to raise pre-school aged children on a fun and healthy plant-based diet.  If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

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9 thoughts on “Want to drop weight and become younger looking through veganism?

  1. wow! thanks so much for posting this. I’m doing some self-reflecting after a friend last night told me they intend to go vegan to “lose weight.” it broke my heart, and made me think something is seriously wrong with the way people in the US approach health, food, and dieting…

    as a thin and white vegan, sometimes it feels really precarious to be vegan in ways that aren’t embedded in white supremacy and sizeism. your work is truly an inspiration. thank you!!

    1. I also think that what is amazing to me is that I have been told by so many people that I could make six figures if stopped trying to offer webinars, talks, services about critical race feminist ways to engage with veganism/health/nutrition and just “sell” what “Sizzles” : weight loss and how to look younger. I have opted not to do this, and I do see how difficult it is to make a living trying to “sell” the “critical thinking seeds ” that I believe can help people practice the fundamental premise of Ahimsa based veganism; Well, vegan or not, the fundamental principles of harmlessness and mindfulness are hard to successfully promote, in my experience.

      I also really grappled ethically, with the webinar i recently offered about healthy hair care and skin care for Black women. I was concerned about how to present holistically and not shaming Black women for not having a particular aesthetic..

    2. I am also bothered when people proclaim that they are “going” vegan to lose weight. I often wonder what they will do after they lose weight? Will they just stop eating vegan? So much is lost when veganism is only seen through a weight loss lens.

  2. I was really curious as to what the content of this post was going to be.
    I am interested in introducing veganism to Black communities as a way to improve health. I am troubled by the rate of diabetes and heart disease in the Black community, and see veganism as a way to combat that.
    I am critical of the concept of health and do not think anyone owes anyone their health. However, I do think it is good to want to feel good in your body. I don’t think anyone with diabetes, heart disease, or some other ailment will tell you that they are happy to have diabetes, heart disease, etc.
    I am hesitant to hold “teach ins” about the topic of veganism because I do not want to come in as an “all knowing” person nor do I want to be condescending. I would simply like to expose people to information that they otherwise might not be exposed to. I am very aware that some Black people see veganism as something that only white and/or middle to upper class people engage in.

    I look forward to this conference as a way to hopefully gain answers to some of the questions that are swirling in my head.

  3. When I saw the heading for this post in my email, my jaw dropped—but thankfully, you were kidding. I am very excited for the annual conference, very much to further investigate the issues you raise today. Discussions that I have had with other vegans regarding the relationship with veganism and a “vegan body” have really perplexed me. I hear so much focus surrounding “pure,” “purity,” and “purification” in order to be “healthy,” to be “cleansed.” But to what end, some kind of divinity? And all this fat-shaming and fat-phobia demonizing everyone and everything “fat” because it is “sick”, it is “lazy”, it is “ugly,” it is “unhealthy.” Even worse is how being vegan is regarded as being feminine, as if food is gender specific or has the ability to feminize or masculinitize a person. How many dates have I been on where I open up that I am vegan and get back something about how men eat meat–or the most common is that I must be watching my figure…(WTF!!) Anyhow, all this emphasis on body image points to one direction, to me, this idea of an “appropriate body,” but why would anyone ever want such a thing? I try to respect the fact that not everyone has the same motivations behind their veganism, but I really struggle with vegans/vegan organizations that promote the idea that vegans should/do look a certain way.

  4. This piece felt incredible intimate to me. All of Dr. Harper’s work reflects personal reflections obviously from the heart, but this resonated very strongly with me because of the abundant inclusiveness, hence why I feel this to be so intimate. I am even more delighted to participate in the Sistah Vegan conference, to pursue an ever growing”new birth” into an encompassing consciousness.

  5. Thank you so much for this post! I do appreciate that you look at these topics from a wide angle, and that you incorporate antiracism and anti(hetero)sexism, and other forms of working against discrimination into your work. And yes I do also think that the whole talk about going vegan to look good is completely missing the point.

    Your blog always gives me food for thought, and as a Black woman living in Austria/Europe, it is a source that I use in order to educate myself and to make myself aware of the fact, that there are more women of color who care about a vegan life. I have also ordered your book and it is a true inspiration for me while trying to live a lifestyle that is based on the principle of ahimsa. Thank you very much!

  6. Actually it looks really attracting to look younger through veganism, it is another great alternative among many ones available, I think the natural way is the best because nutrition has a lot to do with how people look.

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