Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

As anyone who has taken on a vegan diet will tell you, people can say the funniest things. A few months ago, I was celebrating my birthday with a few friends at a local watering hole. A friend of mine brought a date with him, a woman new to the city who I will gently describe as someone who perhaps… was in a bit of a crabby mood that evening. At least I would hope this was the case. 

Anyway, as the cocktails flowed over the course of the evening, I overheard the aforementioned sourpuss telling another reveler that she had just visited a vegan restaurant in St. Catharines. My ears perked up immediately, “Oh really? What’s it called – I’m vegan. I always love to try new vegan restaurants.” 

There seems to be something about my personality that makes people feel they can be completely honest with me. After looking me up and down, she tersely noted: “You’re vegan? I would have thought you’d be skinnier.” 

Perhaps feeling a bit tethered by the woman’s out-of-fricking-nowhere volley, or being off my game as I was likely in the throes of the birthday blues, I could only slide out a plaintive “oh.” 

To which my dear friend Patty deadpanned in response, “Yes, Lindsay. You're the fattest vegan ever. I mean, look at you, you're what -- a size 8? Disgusting.”

And we retreated in screeching giggles. Like I said, the drinks were flowing. 

I bring this exchange up not to talk about women’s tendency to eviscerate one another for kicks. There’s a topmost consonant in the alphabet right at the beginning of a word ofen used for the sort of woman who behaves as such, but us sisters often deem it the more elegant term of relational aggression. At least in public. No, I wanted to illustrate a troubling cultural accessory to veganism in the past few years as it has received more mainstream attention. Not to mention the fact that one of the first questions I am often asked by women about my veganism is if I did so to lose weight.  (This is a family show, so I’ll keep mum on some of the fun I have responding that one.)

I’ve written elsewhere on this site about some upsetting studies undertaken suggesting that youth, mainly young women with eating disorders, often adopt vegetarianism as something of a dodge for controlled, harmful food restrictions. Though much of this has been overstated by some, such behaviour exists and is worth noting.  

I can see why this may be the case. The Skinny Bitch Diet book has sold in the millions, promising lifelong leanness if you ditch meat and dairy. This week, Glee star Lea Michele is making headlines after her talking about how her adopting veganism helped her lose weight. I don’t imagine I have to remind you of Glee’s demographic stronghold: teenage girls. Things such as the diets employed by their favoured starlets aren’t outside of their radar. 

Michele is not the first of those in the spotlight to broadcast veganism as a fix for weight loss. Several celebutantes and mainstream media personalities have gone this route: Oprah, Beyonce, Demi Moore -- the list goes on. 

Truth be told, since I went vegan in early 2009, I would venture to say I’ve lost about ten pounds.  However, I also started long-distance running around about the same time, so I imagine it’s a combination of both. My lineage, teeming with people with big bums and hips and large men most at home on a football field, has decreed I will never be skinny. Nor do I feel I should have to be, for a multitude of reasons. Besides, when you can make stuff like this and this, one can really fill out a pair of jeans awful quick, vegan or not. 

Though a leaner body mass is a commonality in many vegans, I feel it appropriate that I reiterate why this blog exists: to consider a more healthful diet that treads a bit lighter on the environment and our bodies, and to take a more humane gaze at our relationship with animals. Okay? Okay. 

I’ll be forced to sit on anyone who says otherwise. 

Questions? Comments? Lucrative book-deal offer with a substantial non-recoupable advance? Email Lindsay at ‘mslindsayhutton’ at the all-powerful gmail dot com!