In this post, blogger and YouTuber Cindy Negrón discusses body shaming in the vegan movement and challenges the idea that vegans have to be thin – and that thin always means healthy. To find out more about Cindy, check out her bio at the end of the article.
I’m a fat vegan. I’ve become thinner while being vegan, but I’m a fat vegan. This can seem radical and unapologetic in a world where veganism seems to have become attached to model bodies, diet culture, and any other nonsense you can think of. Why? Veganism is about living compassionately for the sake of the world, the animals, and yourself, since plant-based food is better for your health. This last part is a BONUS for me. This is not a choice I made for health reasons. Veganism wasn’t a movement that started for health reasons. So why are we shaming fat vegans? Because we live in a culture that has standards we’re expected to comply with – and when we aren’t compliant, then we have to diet.
“The vegan diet should make you lose weight.” “You’re not doing it right.” “What are you eating?” “That’s junk food.” “Are you a junk food vegan?” “My food is better than yours.” “Is this plate colorful enough to be Instagram-worthy?” Better yet, “If you love yourself then you should eat good vegan food and not the junk you find in the stores.” If I love myself I should what? These are all things I’ve seen or heard, the last one from yet another “vegan” shaming vegans.
This whole thing about veganism and being fat is really scary. I don’t care – I’ve managed to build good self-esteem independent of my size, but what about the girl next door? What about the one who’s been dealing with an eating disorder? What about the other fat girls who are comfortable in their skin but don’t feel represented in the community? Look at VegFest, any of them from around the globe, and most of the speakers are lean mean machines. I have no problem with that, but is it inclusive? Does it make fat vegans feel comfortable?
When I go to a vegan workshop, I can definitely enjoy watching whoever is standing in front of me, but do they look like me or any other fat vegan? Even worse, when the workshop is titled something like “Learn to cook 3 meals” and suddenly, they start talking about being fit, low-fat or some other nonsense rather than just sharing the meals. We can all make changes. Give me the option to change, but don’t sell the diet culture through a workshop or presentation – I didn’t sign up to be fat-shamed.
Being healthy doesn’t have a size. Never in my life have I seen any evidence that the standard of health should be 123lbs. Yes, we have charts, yes overweight people are more prone to have X or Y medical condition. But I do yoga, I’ve been to the gym, I’ve been almost 40lbs lighter than I am today, and I still don’t look like any of the standards. I’m a Hispanic Latina, and my roots are from the Taínos, Africans, and Spanish. I have a big ass! I could lose every pound but the ones in my ass, and I still wouldn’t look like any other woman. I’m me – the best or worst version of me, but just me.
I hate talking to other vegans who are smaller or bigger than me and say that they fear to mention the fact that they are vegan because of the judgment. People look at them and even say, “Are you sure?” Like they’re doing veganism wrong because they aren’t “fit”.
I know changing the world is hard and we can’t do it alone. There are some awesome vegans out there talking about this same topic. If you don’t know JL Fields, Paul Steller, or Giny Messina, they have all talked about this. We need to keep having these conversations at vegan festivals around the globe, as well as more people talking about it on their YouTube channels, their podcasts, and their blogs. We need more people representing all demographics. This isn’t to say that there aren’t other demographics which also aren’t being represented. But we should leave this topic open for discussion.
It all comes down to this: you can be big, small, short, or tall, but if you’re kind, if you’re choosing to live a compassionate life, then that’s all that matters.
About the writer
Cindy Negrón creates content on Veganizalo, a blog and YouTube channel with recipes and reviews. She’s a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator (VLCE), and helps run vegan meal shares in her area. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.