“You’re vegan? But you’re not thin!”: Confessions of a food lover

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» “You’re vegan? But you’re not thin!”: Confessions of a food lover

Rebecca Nahid discusses how societal prejudices surrounding vegans and weight loss are unhelpful, and why we shouldn’t feel guilty about eating the odd vegan cupcake now and again.

I am sure that the first thought that pops into most people’s heads when they hear that I’m vegan is: "But you’re not thin?" Imagining endless days of me picking disconsolately at limp and leafy greens, they can’t understand that I eat more – a lot more – than salad. You see, I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with food!

I am not one of these vegans who will blithely walk into a non-vegan restaurant and order the plate of chips.  I like to phone ahead, get friendly and on first name terms with the chef until I feel comfortable enough to blurt out: “I WANT A BIG MEAL AND I WANT IT NOW!” 

From morning ‘till night I am thinking at regular intervals of the nutty praline contained within Vego chocolate bars*. By 9.20am at work, I am recalling past vegan feasts. When I get in from a day’s toil at the office, I drop everything and start cutting doorstep slices of bread for immediate comfort toasting.

And do you know what? I don’t care if I have love handles. I don’t care that I wobble in many places. I don’t want to wake up every morning sipping green juices and snapping my tiny washboard waist in ‘cute bod selfies’ for my blog entitled: ‘Raw Chiselled Vegan’. More like pre-menopausal, coffee and wine drinking, vegan cupcake guzzling late-30s layabout. If you are that way inclined, and you love to look great and hit the gym, then that’s great too! All I ask is that you do not judge me for not being that way.

"We don’t have to be ‘fit’ poster girls/boys for veganism. We represent all that is good about being vegan by loving animals, our families, our friends and, most crucially, ourselves."

I haven’t always been so accepting of myself. I, like many others, have had issues with food and body image all my life. When I, and people like me, see blogs where gym-toned vegans mock others for putting on weight, it’s not only hurtful, it’s a highly privileged position to take. No matter what some people do, losing weight can be nigh on impossible – especially if you are in a situation where you don’t have the time, ability or resources to go to the gym.

Luckily, I find my inspiration away from the judgemental weight loss vlogs. I attend vegan festivals and witness beer bellied bikers eating tofu burgers and supping vegan ale, normal looking people with split ends and cellulite all walking round, enjoying the whole experience and remembering why they do it. 

I remind myself that vegans preach compassion – why shouldn't we apply that same compassion to ourselves? Not beating ourselves up for every slice of cake we eat. Not standing miserably in the mirror wondering why our stomachs aren’t flat. Not shaming and thus provoking others into mental health crises because they’ve swallowed some trans fats. Because newsflash! We don’t have to be ‘fit’ poster girls/boys for veganism. We represent all that is good about being vegan by loving animals, our families, our friends and, most crucially, ourselves.

I don’t stand scanning ingredients in supermarkets and sacrificing animal products for the sake of my body image. I do it so that fewer animals die for my palate. And you know what? I doubt that they care if I am fat or thin - I know my cats don’t! 

If you are interested in health and fitness as a result of being vegan, I take my hat off to you: but if that’s all you care about, we have very, very different priorities.

So pass me the tub of Almond Dream Salted Caramel* and let me worry about what I do with my body -  don’t chastise me because I don’t eschew sugar like you do. Happy eating!

By Rebecca Nahid

*Indicates a product which is not Vegan Trademarked. While the company has said the product is vegan and not animal tested, The Vegan Society cannot verify if it is vegan unless the product registers with the Vegan Trademark.

You can check out Rebecca's tasty and simple recipes at her blog Lush Vegan Food.

Comments

Hello This article interested me because when I was telling some friends or family members that I became vegan, and I was giving it my best shot as it isn't that easy to be vegan, too often I had comments like: "Is it to lose weight?" or "Have you lost weight since you're vegan?" or "Are you doing it for your health?". I found these questions quite annoying after a while because it made me realised that other people had a problem with my physical appearance, which has nothing to do with them. On top of it, I thought: " They see me as a big person and they assume that I have some health problems." I found this quite upsetting because of their assumptions. I blame it on all the TV programmes inviting people to lose weight for their health and the emerging blame culture towards overweight and obese people. "No I'm not vegan to lose weight and because I eat very healthy foods I'm in very good health. Thank you for asking." How many times will I have to repeat this? Thank you for your article.

I became vegan at age 59 and I am now 63. I did it because I wanted less animals to be abused or die. I didn't do it for my health. I've gained 10 # since turning vegan because I cook, cook,cook and despite trying to freeze leftovers or halving recipes, I always have too much food! I eat too much. However, I have to say no recipe I've ever made can compare to when I gourmet-cooked using butter and eggs! It just will never be the same again but I try to stay positive. I have experimented with hundreds of web site recipes and I was a great cook (from scratch) in my day, but most everything I've made as a vegan has been disappointing. There's just so much falafel and quinoa and curry I can take. My veggie enchilada and lasagne dishes with cashew cheese sauce is good, but cakes and cookies are either super heavy or very dry texture. The vegan pastries in the bakeries have way too much sugar in them, especially icing! But I will go to my grave a vegan as it's the sacrifice I'm willing to make for the animals but I won't say I love the food. I eat 100% organic, vegan and GMO free unless I'm traveling and can't do it all. Sometimes I wonder if those recipes on sites have ever really been tasted as they are so bad! Either that, or the cooks never cooked in their lives until they became vegan so they aren't good cooks.

Hi, Louann! I also became vegan at 59 and am now 64. I just wanted to respond to your comments about vegan baked goods being super heavy or dry. I am shocked! I admit I am a dessert junkie, and I regularly eat the most moist delicious vegan treats ever. I don't make them myself, I buy them at stores or online -- do you have access to anything like that? Perhaps you could figure out how to make them when you taste them! I live in Vancouver, Canada and we have many vegan bakeries, and even regular bakeries that make vegan treats, where I get light fluffy donuts and cupcakes, cheezcake slices, and you wouldn't believe the cinnamon buns I've discovered -- they are so good that I am have a cinnamon bun party next month to treat vegan and non-vegan friends. I get them from http://plantbasefood.com (sorry, they don't ship), but I am sure you can access similar suppliers wherever you are (I've seen mailorder vegan bakeries featured on tv. Good luck, and I hope you find more delicious vegan foods!

A great blog. I'm a curvy vegan. I have a vegan cupcake business. I love food too, and cannot abide the vegan fat shaming that exists. Thanks for writing this its a great read. X

I believe for most of vegans, become thin or stay thin, without going to gym or doing little physical practice. I eat much, and make cakes and cookies -all vegan-, but do not earn weight. For me, the key is: choosing the right vegan food and combine it correctly, this allow us to lose weight (or stay thin) and healthy the rest of our lives.

Thank you for this article. I love it. As a 53 year old vegan of 28 years, I am not skinny, and often question the people who tell you that going vegan will help you lose weight. I love food (though non-vegans seem to doubt that) and I'm not giving up chocolate and vegan cupcakes and that salted caramel ice cream for anyone!

This. SO MUCH THIS! 100% yes ma'am innit!

Thank you from another not-skinny vegan. It's not automatic. It's not magic. I didn't become a vegan to become thin. I did it and continue to live a vegan lifestyle for the animals.

Thank you for a wonderful article. I too am a curvy vegan, and like all of you I became vegan for animal welfare. I have had the usual quotes of but what do you eat and you don't look like a vegan.. personally I take the latter as a compliment as it breaks the media stereotype of skinny, supergreen drinking eco warrior! I am a vegan and I love cake, beer, I too phone ahead when going on a night out to arrange food and get excited when I discover a new vegan range of biscuits or burgers. I love food and cooking healthy meals.... (yep, the leftovers get frozen.. some times!). We are who we are, we are all trying our best for the good of animal and planetary welfare a d skinny or curvy we are united by one force!

Being vegan isn't about size, it is about health, mentally and spiritually. I too choose vegan because of the animals, and I don't want to be reason they are slaughtered, and exposed to such cruelty. The simple math of food intake versus size is calories.. To loose weight, simple burn more calories than we eat. But the truth is simple, vegans can also be unhealthy but it's not the fault of being vegan, it's the fault of unhealthy things we eat. I enjoyed the honesty of this article, and the fact that we all love food.

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