Prompted by a fellow vegan’s comment on the social media vegan group for our city – it started this revelation on what people perceive as a vegan “body.”
The short story is this vegan was at a store perusing the section containing the usual vegan food suspects – Tofurkey, Kite Hill, Tree Line, Miyoko’s etc. Another woman – a tall, fashion model type female customer came up to the same area. As often happens, a conversation began that started with the tall model type saying to the vegan “Oh, you’re vegetarian? “The vegan replied, “Vegan, actually.” Response “Wow? How do you manage to keep all that weight on?” My friend responded politely, “Just lucky, I guess.”
She is a very healthy and active female. 5’9” and 165 lbs. She will admit to eating vegan junk food and transitional foods too much just as I do. The whole conversation really motivated me to ask the question what is a standard vegan body? The answer – there isn’t a standard nor should there be. The perception that all vegans are rail thin is just a myth and should remain one. Will a vegan lifestyle help shed some pounds? Absolutely yes. Will it make you feel amazing, energetic and often reduce or eliminate certain physical ailments or conditions and feel better than you have ever felt before? It is true. Will a vegan lifestyle reduce sentient being suffering and slaughter as well as enhance and revitalize the natural environment? That’s a scientific fact! What it is not guaranteed to do is make you thin or whatever society deems thin. Veganism is not about a diet that you will become lean and “perfect” body-wise.
We should strive to eat more whole foods, less Ben and Jerry’s nondairy Caramel Brittle ice cream. That is the starting point but the overwhelming majority of vegans I know are advocates of the animals that are abused, housed in CAFO for a short, horrid existence that ends in the slaughterhouse. That’s our focus; stop the abuse of all sentient beings in all industries, end the servitude of animals to mankind’s whims and reduce the carbon footprint each of us makes upon this one and only earth by refusing to eat, drink, wear or buy any item that is in any related to this abuse. The focus is not on fitting into size 2 designer jeans. If that is a by-product of the vegan “diet” for some then hurrah but people’s body types are genetic for the most part. Admittedly, I began the vegan journey to lose weight – full disclosure I was up to almost 240 lbs. at 5’9” – I was the poster child of every diet that all I did was yo-yo up and down. The idea of eating whole foods without calorie or point counting sounded too good to be true but in about 10 months I had lost 70 lbs. but moreover I felt amazing. It was rapidly into that first year that my focus was more on the animals than on “dieting.”
I am sure people have looked at this strong, wide hipped and shouldered body and thought – she’s a vegan?! My bone structure is not going to be changed nor will the amount of muscle I have developed over the years.
What are vegans? To quote Aristotle “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
We are whole food eaters, we are whole world lovers of animals and nature, we are wholly embracing of each person seeking a kinder and gentler world and we are wholly individuals who possess different corporeal structures. Our body parts are just that – lesser parts of the larger equation.
I am an advocate of healthy bodies and yes, there is such a thing as morbidly obese but I think that is rare in someone who subscribes to a vegan lifestyle that isn’t predicated on the vegan flavors of Coke, Oreos and Lay’s. Eat well, cook as much as you can, walk, ride a bike, go to the gym or practice yoga because those are wonderful for your heart, muscles and mind. Embrace your vibe, feel your energy for you, not to achieve some mythic vegan body for the masses – do “you” and never apologize for your beliefs or your body type.
Hold fast to your veganism but hold very loosely to what omnivores believe a vegan should look like – just remember that many people believe vegans eat nothing but twigs and berries – the concept of a delicious vegan mac and cheese is as unbelievable to them as a “husky” vegan.
Veronica S, Stephens, VLCE
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