Dear Privileged Vegetarians/Vegans/Super food/non-gluten enthusiasts,
It’s me again. Excited?
So first off it’s important to recognize that once, I was just like you.
But then, I evolved. No I’m just kidding, I wish.
But wouldn’t it be great if being a better person was that simple? Instead it starts with reflection and change to our own habits.
As one who has a serious emotional connection with all sofa’s, I feel your pain.
So for most of us, it’s great that we have looked upon our diet and started cutting our what we believe we just don’t need. Congratulations. Giving up bacon or cake is not easy. But for most people, this is just one stop on their journey to becoming a more supreme being.
Once again, I am joking. But it would be easier than evolution.
So In The Beginning:
Often times when people make drastic changes to their lives, part of them coming to terms with these changes is self reassurance to strengthen that what you are doing is right.
I have done this, basically everyone has at one point.
When I became vegetarian at the age of 12, it wasn’t uncommon for me to argue (arguing at 12 isn’t too civil) about how “evil” my siblings actions were, how eating meat was wrong. For a while after that, the behaviour (after numerous talks with my mother) began to slow down. I no longer felt the need to attack others choices to justify my own. My decision was made by me, so why should their decisions be made by anyone but them?
So below is a list of why optional dieters need to stop arguing, besides the fact that when we do, we come across as 12 year olds.
So anyone remember a few years back when Ellen Degeneres was in the spotlight for reasons other than her show? It was when she was campaigning (and helping the Humane Society’s) for the end of seal hunting, aggressively.
Anyone remember why the world split itself in two over this situation? No?
Well get ready because here is why:
The main reason that it was in bad taste to do this is because it was racist.
The campaign illegitimized an entire way of life. In Northern Canada, where seal hunting is a way of life a for an entire population, making it seem criminal or wrong is wrong. For many the dependency on an animal based diet is only as far as a generation back. Options for other resources in the past (and still in the present) for these communities up north, especially the Inuit communities, were and are limited. And treatment of animals has been always nothing but respectful, using the entire animal for light, medicine, food, shelter and clothes.
Besides that all, it’s a part of their cultural identity, part of life, and it’s wrong for anyone to make these decisions for them. Thanks to the great responses of especially Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss’ video and the hashtag #sealfie movement initiated by Leila Beaudoin, this gave people the opportunity to learn why we should probably not shame other peoples culture.
One of the most relevant things for me and my life is that growing up, is that by no stretch of the imagination (or the dollar) were we rich. For families like mine, eating was more about quantity not quality. Living in the global north, and on an island in BC, points to the fact that people who live here have access to a lot, and are very privileged.
Evidence of BC’s idea of how life should be lived in the Gulf Islands and Saanich is directly linked to the fact that Green Party leader Elizabeth May got elected her first run here. So a majority of the population wants to be green, a majority of people want to be globally responsible. And the results this far is people attacking those who cannot afford it.
Those who are living with a fixed budget, meaning they have to be careful. It’s easier to eat gluten options than non-gluten options, meat is cheaper than tofu. So guess what most people opt for. Especially when they’re looking after more than just themselves.
3. It’s Ableist
Through oppressive myths told by uneducated people (we all were at one point), the idea that unhealthy food, namely those that are not organic, locally harvested, low sodium, and all around “responsible” is bad. And for a lot of people this can be another barrier for accessing the resources they have to have. Talking about ableism in relation to food justice is an incredibly intersecting.
People with different dis/abilities generally get paid differently than those without. This can including invisible disabilities. Those with disabilities may or may not require more costly expenses like medication, special care, transport, etc. These costs are covered differently by the government and insurance companies, this results in those who have to choose between food/food quality and expenses. Generally food quality goes down.
With certain medication people can require a certain amount calories per meal/day.
For people with difficulty with movement, having food that is low barrier, easy to prepare and accessible is vital for both time and emotional confidence.
So for a lot of people not eating not eating “conventional” foods results in people eating alternative foods, and generally this food is not grown locally, ie. coconut oil product, or quinoa.
Both these foods have really specific things that make them complex to eat ethically.
First off, coconut oil. It’s incredibly labour intensive, and the work of even getting to the coconuts is dangerous, so is therefore generally left to people who are most in need of work. In different parts of the world child labour is used (but hey, don’t feel left out, Canada does this too), and are grown in tropical climates (ie not BC). So when we buy coconuts, with the combined ethics of picking, manufacturing, and transport, is it really better?
Secondly, quinoa. Quinoa, historically has a very mixed past, pre colonization, quinoa held a high status and was regarded highly by most cultures that grew it. Post colonization, this superfood was then deemed as “poor” food, people who could not afford meats and other more expensive foods still had access to this food that was highly nutritious and accessible.
Now with the sudden craze of the holy quinoa, prices have tripled since 2006 due to the increase of interest in this food to “foodies” and optional dieters. Quoting the Bolivian economist Daysi Muñoz: “As the price has risen quinoa is consumed less and less in Bolivia. It’s worth more to them [the producers] to sell it or trade it for pasta and rice. As a result, they’re not eating it any more.” So for these people this means that since the price of this food has risen, it’s had the effects of gentrification on the food market. The least privileged can no longer access this grain anymore. Historically, this food hold so much cultural significance, us taking that from those who need it for the survival of themselves but also their culture living in a colonial world.
This is not okay and it’s important to know how our food is getting to our tables, and whose tables we’re taking the food from. Especially if we have the privilege of a choice.
I want to make this clear, I wrote this not to shame people’s choices.
I wrote this to have people reflect on their mouths, on both what is going in them and what’s coming out. No one is superior to another (except we’re all superior to Trump), but recognizing that there is room to improve oneself. But that’s not by demoralizing/demonizing another’s actions (once again, unless it’s Trump’s actions).
Your crusade to a better you is for you and you alone, but while we’re on this crusade, we need to be careful of the things we condemn, these thing may be another’s next level of a better self. You‘re self worth is not tied to another persons. Do you know why? Because you are you, and your choices are yours.
Note: The image used is not our property, nor do we know the owner, we do know however it is designed specially for eating ramen noodles. It was originally found on: dontpaniconline.com/magazine/festivals/spork-the-next-generation