Veganismus, „Fat-Shaming“ und warum vegan?

„Fat Shaming“

Ich habe neulich einen neuen englischen Begriff gelernt: „fat shaming“ oder auch „body shaming“. „Shaming“ bedeutet in diesem Fall soviel wie jemanden beschämen oder anprangern. „Fat shaming“ ist also nichts anderes als die Diskriminierung und Beleidigung dicker Menschen. Ein tolles neues Wort für etwas also, das es schon sehr lange gibt.

Oft wird diese Diskriminierung unter dem Vorwand der „Gesundheitsvorsorge“ betrieben, wie jetzt auch von der gemeinnützigen us-amerikanischen Ärztegruppe PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). Diese Gruppe ist dafür bekannt, dass sie sich neben Präventivmedizin auch für Veganismus und gegen Tierversuche in der Medizin einsetzt

Die Organisation hat sich schon immer den „Kampf“ gegen das Übergewicht auf die Fahnen geschrieben und propagiert die vegane Lebensweise als Heilmittel gegen Adipositas, Diabetes und vieles mehr, wobei sie sich weitgehend auf die umfassende wissenschaftliche Arbeit ihres Gründers Neal Barnard stützt. Leider scheint man in jüngster Zeit der Meinung zu sein, dass Forschung allein nicht reicht, um Menschen in den USA davon zu überzeugen, Veganer_in zu werden. Nein, ähnlich wie PeTA USA auch setzt man jetzt auf peinliche, diskriminierende und beleidigende Werbeanzeigen und Filme, die eigentlich nur eine einzige Botschaft haben: dicke Menschen leben ungesund und ihre Körper sind unansehnlich, aufgrund ihres Übergewichts kriegen sie sämtliche Zivilisationskrankheiten und belästigen andere (der neueste geschmacklose Werbespot von PCRM). Ach ja, und sie leben nicht vegan.

Um zu vermeiden, dass man sich durch Käsekonsum vom gesellschaftlich anerkannten Normalgewicht entfernt, sich unter den entnervten Blicken seiner Mitreisenden in einen zu kleinen Sitz quetschen muss oder seiner Gesundheit schadet, lautet also die Botschaft von PCRM: „Go vegan and get slim!“ So würde ich zumindest den oben bereits verlinkten Flugzeug-Werbespot interpretieren.

Veganismus und Gesundheit

Ich feiere dieses Monat mein fünfjähriges Vegan- und Blogjubiläum. Ich bin nicht aus gesundheitlichen Gründen dazu übergegangen, nur noch pflanzliche Lebensmittel zu mir zu nehmen, sondern aus ethischen Gründen. Als ich anfing zu bloggen, gab es noch kaum vegane Blogs und auch nur wenige Bücher oder Webseiten, die sich mit den gesundheitlichen Aspekten der veganen Ernährung befassten. (PCRM war damals eine von ihnen. Und ich habe viele hilfreiche Informationen auf ihrer Seite gefunden. Deshalb finde ich ihre Werbekampagnen jetzt umso schlimmer.) Eigentlich habe ich auch die meiste Zeit damit verbracht, Behauptungen zu widerlegen, meine Lebensweise sei ungesund.

Aber irgendwann hat sich was geändert. Und zwar richtig. Angefangen hat alles damit, dass Ärzte wie Joel Fuhrman, Neal Barnard oder T. Colin Campbell (einer der Autoren der China Study) Bücher darüber geschrieben haben, wie man man mit Hilfe einer fast fettfreien, veganen oder überwiegend veganen Ernährung Übergewicht reduzieren und sogar Diabetes II rückgängig machen kann. Ihre Ernährungsvorschriften: ballaststoffreiche planzliche Lebensmittel und dafür keinen Zucker, kein Fett, bei Fuhrman sogar kein Salz. Ihre Zielgruppe waren dabei vor allem Menschen, die aufgrund ihres starken Übergewichts mit erheblichen gesundheitlichen Problemen zu kämpfen hatten und denen „herkömmliche“ Diäten nicht weiterhalfen. Sowohl das Programm von Fuhrman als auch das von Barnard ist also nicht für Menschen ohne solche Gesundheitsprobleme entworfen worden.

Meiner Meinung nach haben Programme wie die von Barnard oder Fuhrman erheblich dazu beigetragen, dass der Veganismus plötzlich als gesund galt. Und, was natürlich auch hängenblieb war, dass eine pflanzliche Ernährung zur schlanken Linie führt.

Plötzlich wurde also, zuerst in den USA, Veganismus die neue Atkins-Bewegung, also zu einer Mode-Diät. Allerdings nicht nur tierfrei, sondern auch fett- und zuckerfrei sollte die Ernährung schon sein, sonst wirds nix mit der Wunschfigur. Immer mehr Blogs propagieren jetzt statt einer veganen eine „plant based“, also pflanzenbasierte Ernährungsweise, massenhaft werden grüne Smoothies gemixt, Rohkostgerichte zubereitet und Detoxkuren durchgeführt. (Zumindest gegen Grüne Smoothies und Rohkost ist ja erstmal nix zu sagen, ich esse ja auch gerne Salat. Allerdings finde ich es nicht gut, wenn Salatessen zum non plus ultra wird.) Und es wird online darüber berichtet. Genauso wie viele Bloggerinnen (in der Tat, Männer erwischt man nur selten bei der Beichte) plötzlich darüber schreiben, dass sie ein paar Pfunde zu viel haben, sich nicht wohl fühlen, und das trotz Veganismus. Denn Öl und Zucker sind ja leider vegan und vegane Kuchen machen auch nicht schlank.

Was ist hier eigentlich passiert? Sind vegane Blogs die neuen Frauenzeitschriften? Und wieso müssen alle Veganer_innen sich jetzt gesund ernähren?* Und warum müssen sie schlank sein?

Gut. Erstmal müssen Veganer_innen genauso schlank sein wie andere Leute. Schlank sein ist die Norm und das Schönheitsideal. Wer dagegen verstößt, verletzt wichtige gesellschaftliche Normen, denn, so der Soziologe Friedrich Schorb, „Übergewicht widerspricht den Idealen der Leistungsgesellschaft. Dicksein gilt als Symbol für falsche Ernährung, zu wenig Bewegung, Sich-gehen-Lassen, Chips-Fressen, Glotzen, Computerspielen und Auf-der-Couch-Herumhängen.“ Oder anders gesagt, dicke Menschen symbolisieren die Verletzung moralischer Werte. Außerdem hat man ja eine Verpflichtung gegenüber der Gesellschaft und sollte durch seine ungesunde Ernährungsweise nicht zu einer weiteren Explosion der Gesundheitskosten beitragen. Aber leider ist es nicht so einfach. Dick zu sein ist nicht gleichzusetzen mit einem ungesunden Lebensstil. Und ja, es gibt auch dicke Veganer_innen. So what?

Ging es nicht eigentlich um Tierrechte? Und darum, eine weitere Gruppe vor Diskriminierung zu schützen? Wieso sind wir jetzt stattdessen damit beschäftigt, nicht zu „sündigen“ und möglichst keinen Zucker mehr zu uns zu nehmen, die viel zu fettige Pflanzensahne abzulehnen, viel Rohkost zu essen oder darüber zu diskutieren, ob Tofuwürstchen zu viel Salz haben? Warum beklagen Veganer_innen es öffentlich, wenn sie in diesem Punkt nicht einer gesellschaftlichen Norm entsprechen (also dünn sein), wo sie sich doch an anderer Stelle, nämlich indem sie auf Tierprodukte verzichten, gesellschaftlichen Normen bewusst widersetzen? Und warum rennen wir überhaupt immer noch einem Schönheitsideal hinterher, dass, um es auf Englisch auf den Punkt zu bringen, „totally fucked up“ ist?

Warum lebe ich vegan?

In den fünf Jahren, in denen ich mich jetzt mit Veganismus und auch mit Ernährung auseinandergesetzt habe, habe ich vor allem eins gelernt. Was gesund ist, ist nicht immer so einfach herauszufinden. Dünn zu sein bedeutet nicht gleichzeitig, dass man eine gesunden Lebensstil führt. Auf tierisches Eiweiß zu verzichten bedeutet nicht, dass man sich dadurch vor Osteoporose schützt. Vegane Ernährung ist nicht grundsätzlich gesünder als eine Mischkost-Ernährung. Ernährung ist insgesamt ein sehr komplexes Thema und wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse unterliegen manchmal auch Moden oder werden so zurechtgebogen, dass sie zur eigenen Argumetationslinie passen. (Ein gutes Beispiel dafür ist der Umgang mit der China Study in Veganer_innen-Kreisen.) Deshalb verlasse ich persönlich mich bei der Begründung meiner veganen Lebensweise allein auf ethische Argumente. Die halte ich nämlich für einfacher und überzeugender als das Gesundheitsargument.

*Ja, ich übertreibe. Jede_r sollte sich gesund ernähren. Vitamin B12 nehmen zum Beispiel. Was ich eigentlich meine ist, dass die Definition, was gesund ist, gelegentlich merkwürdig erscheint, wenn man zum Beispiel Fett und Zucker ganz aus dem Speiseplan streicht oder eben nur noch Rohkost ist. Es gibt meines Wissens keine überzeugenden wissenschaftlichen Belege dafür, dass solche Diäten wirklich etwas zur Gesundheit beitragen. Ich halte es da lieber mit dem alten „alles in Maßen“.

34 Comments

  • […] In this column, I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers questions around, well … why they cook! If you don’t already know about these noteworthy bloggers, you’ll be introduced to some great ones and, if you are already fans, you’ll learn something new about them here! This week, I’m excited to feature Dresden-based Constanze Reichardt of Seitan Is My Motor, who is an immensely talented baker, food photographer and ethical vegan. […]

  • happy gf
    5 Jahren ago

    I am not a vegetarian or vegan but I eat a lot of raw vegan food because they are quick portable interesting (kale chips anyone?) Usually tasty, And best of all good for you! I welcome it even it is becoming more of a fad.

  • Victoria
    5 Jahren ago

    Thank you for writing this! I am a „fat vegan“ who went vegan and has stayed vegan for ethical reasons and this new veganism just for health craze has almost made me feel bad for being vegan and overweight. Thanks for reminding me that that’s not what veganism should be about, it is a compassionate lifestyle. And that’s what makes a lifetime vegan, not someone who is just chasing the new healthy diet craze.

    • Mihl
      5 Jahren ago

      That is great to hear, Victoria!

  • Elizabeth TresCosas
    5 Jahren ago

    1,000 times yes! I agree with everything you wrote! Thank you for writing this it found me at the right time.

  • Vyk
    5 Jahren ago

    Here here! :)

  • Karen Lothrop
    5 Jahren ago

    It isn’t just vegans with the gluten free fat free sugar free.I was on an Indian site and someone was ripping her a new one for frying wanted her to redo the recipe baked. I wanted to write do it yourself!my friends are not vegan they are obsessed with no this no that.Yet they drink with no worry LOL! What makes me always stressed out is my doctor. my cholesterol is too high and you weigh too much.I did lose 25 lbs and i was starving and gained it back.I am a size 14-16.So I won’t spend 10 extra years in the nursing home GOOD!It used to stress me out that i was the fattest one in Yoga class but I kept going. I have read when you become a vegetarian the weight falls off. Mine loves me and is sticking around.My boys have always been heavy and the parents of kids were meaner than the kids. People made remarks at restaurants like you are never supposed to eat.I have lived with fat shaming from teachers parents. they have an elitist attitude they do everything right we have failed. I see them at drive thru’s and eating hot pockets.they think they have the right and obligation to say do you know you are fat? well no I didn’t thanks for waking me up butt head.

  • Gill Lee
    6 Jahren ago

    ps. It is interesting as you say that people think veganism is also very unhealthy. People keep telling me that I will be „missing something“ in my diet. Hmmm I seem to remember 39 years ago when I became a vegetarian that people told me I would either die, become anemic or my bones would become brittle. I think people just don’t like anything that’s not what they consider normal! Now vegetarianism is considered completely normal. May be if we give veganism another 20 years or so it will be accepted as just another way of eating.

  • Gill Lee
    6 Jahren ago

    Mihl, thanks for this, I completely agree with you. My choice (and my husband’s) to be vegan is completely about animal treatment, nothing to do with health. I’m a FAT vegan and I have to say I put on 1/2 a stone (3.5kg) when I became vegan because the food was so damned good. (In fact a lot of it was to do with your fabulous ice cream recipes.) I’ve lost a bit of it since but you can definitely be an unhealthy vegan! I blame Bill Clinton and his steamed vegetable and raw fruit vegan diet, he lost so much weight everyone thinks that’s what it’s all about. I love FAT GAY VEGAN’s web page, the man knows who to enjoy his food. I’m not saying you should go out there to be deliberately unhealthy and there are various reasons for being vegan but it’s definitely not about being healthy to the exclusion of all else. You can be an unhealthy vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. I do love my vegetables and fruit though and I’m not advocating deliberate unhealthiness but I don’t think veganism should be lumped in with fad weightloss diets. Thanks again for the post and the great recipes.

  • Angela
    6 Jahren ago

    sing it, baby! totally agree with you. oh, and i read most of this post while eating chocolate-covered raisins. DEAL WITH IT. ;)

  • Rachel
    6 Jahren ago

    This post seems like two different posts that have stuck together. I’m all for the end of body shaming, and no one should feel guilty about their choice to eat whatever they like. But you lost me with ”it makes me sad when people who seem to be perfectly healthy post “healthy” cookie recipes or apologize for posting those that aren’t “quite that healthy” and swear they almost never eat sugar.” I don’t get your point – people should eat what they want, as long as the line between healthy and unhealthy foods is black and white? I don’t see the connection between the condemnation of fat shaming and your implication that we shouldn’t post healthier versions of recipes if we so choose. Trying to be better to one’s body in small ways, like choosing to eat whole grains or alternative sugars, is not necessarily correlated with hating one’s body, nor is it opposed to ethical veganism. Personally, I am a chunky vegan who loves to eat. I became vegan for ethical reasons, and many of the things I do to be healthier, including eating whole grains (even in cookies) and less processed sugar, I also do because they are better for the earth and/or the animals. While I appreciate the sentiment behind this post, I find the logic flawed and the tone offputting. There are many paths to an ethical life.

    • 6 Jahren ago

      I really don’t see Mihl’s post implying we shouldn’t post healthy recipes, just that we shouldn’t feel guilt-tripped into doing so.

    • Mihl
      6 Jahren ago

      Rachel, you are right, this post is a little too complex and I should probably have splitted it into several parts. That’s why I chose to split it in several parts and used headings. English is not my mother tongue and sometimes it’s hard to say exactly what you want to say in a foreign language.
      My point is not to tell people they shouldn’t eat healthful. I just think it’s sad and not right if people apologize for not always making the healthiest food choices. People shouldn’t feel guilty and beat themselves up over it. In the sentence you quoted I tried to say that there’s nothing wrong with eating unhealthy food once in a while, especially if you have no health problems to begin with. Sorry if my wording was not clear.

  • andreadevon
    6 Jahren ago

    This is a great post! Very passionate and interesting; Choosing Raw did a great post a few months ago about the intersection of beauty and veganism in response to a photo of a ‚pretty‘ meat-eater and a ‚less pretty‘ vegan health advocate. It pairs nicely with your great response to this shift in blog writing- which I have been witness to also. I’m personally pretty exhausted with the vegan fashionista thing happening, which does indeed make many blogs seem like women’s mags. I look forward to many more awesome posts like this!

  • 6 Jahren ago

    thank you for this open & honest post mihl. i agree with you on so many fronts. have you considered sharing this with JL’s blog stop chasing skinny? i think it would be a great fit.

  • 6 Jahren ago

    This is one of my favourite blog posts ever. Thanks!

  • 6 Jahren ago

    Love love love.

    I did a gluten/sugar free thing for lent for a few years in the interest of simplified eating (I tend to get depressed in the winter and into food ruts and it helped me to think, get creative in the kitchen, learn more about xgfx eating, etc.). I didn’t do it this year in part because I was doing P90X and a lot of my protein was coming from seitan and vegan jerky, but also because I didn’t want anyone to mistakenly think I was doing a ‚cleanse‘ or anything of the sort.

  • 6 Jahren ago

    Great post, thank you. Sometimes I despair at the fixation some vegans have on seeing how much sugar/fat/gluten/cooked food they can cut out in the pursuit of being thin and detoxed. For me veganism is about ethics, animals don’t care how much gluten I eat!

  • 6 Jahren ago

    Thank you so much for this post, Mihl. I became vegan for health reasons, but animal rights followed IMMEDIATELY. In my view, how can you become vegan and NOT become invested in protecting and loving animals? For me, they go hand in hand.

    I almost never share links on other peoples‘ comments, but I did write about this, too, and had really similar thoughts: http://www.choosingraw.com/when-promoting-a-vegan-diet-turns-into-body-shaming-2/

    I appreciate your activism, and your honesty.

    • Mihl
      6 Jahren ago

      Thank you, Gena! I read your post before and really liked it. I should have linked to it myself.

      • 6 Jahren ago

        No no! I wouldn’t want to even give people the chance to click away from your smart, excellent words. But I’m glad to share here. Thanks for having read mine, too. I adore your blog, which I’ve been reading since before I went fully vegan :)

  • 6 Jahren ago

    I went vegan over a decade ago, for ethical reasons. I went vegetarian over 30 years ago for ethical reasons. I also live in the Bible Belt. In the Midwest. In a place where you may be a „communist“ or UnAmerican or UnChristian or Satan for not supporting the meat and dairy industry. I also live in a place where the majority of people are suffering from issues due to meat & dairy & overeating the wrong kinds of foods. I think it is a travesty that women feel like they have to „miss out“ on good food or count calories or all the BS that these „diet“ places sell them. I live where WW rules and most people gain the weight back & pay out the ass and still don’t get to where they want to be. I also embrace all reasons people want to eat less meat. It is MUCH easier to make the connection with animals once you are NOT eating them, for whatever reason. I have nothing at all against vegan junk food (except I kind of wish there was less packaging) or any style of vegan diet, I also have nothing against people eating unprocessed plant foods to gain health & a better weight. It also takes an army. So it is wonderful to have the cupcake vegans, the cookie vegans, the gluten free vegans, the salt free vegans (there are scads of regular people out there trying to quit salt because their docs said so-how awesome if they can find vegan recipes to help them), republican vegans, green vegans, blah blah blah blah. I guess I just generally appreciate the complete diversity within the eating more plants movement (because lots of people are trying to eat less meat & dairy and are not „vegan“ in diet or lifestyle yet) and I don’t think that focusing on healthy food is hurting those people baking vegan pies. In the Bible Belt, in general, even people who RISK THEIR LIVES TO SAVE DOGS, will fight you tooth & nail about eating deer, pigs, & cows. There are SO many who will not see the connection, yet the SAME people constantly are trying to eat better, lose weight, or get off meds. So while I personally went vegan and veggie from about 3rd grade (I am 40 now), I don’t live in a place like San Fran or Berkeley where everyone has advanced degrees, ponders the ethical side of eating other animals, or even believes in global warming. Actually, a fair amount of people in my area do NOT even believe in climate change. Often they hate B. Obama, hate Muslims, hate gays, and anything else that isn’t in their „world“. And these types of people are coming to plant based diets (not giving up the leather or fur yet) because of movies like Forks Over Knives and because of health issues. So I just want to fckn embrace everyone who is trying to encourage veganism in any way/shape/form in any place in the world. Because I can tell you that in general, even the biggest „animal lovers“ the ones who plaster stuff about animal cruelty ALL over their FB pages, STILL saturate their „Pinterest“ boards with pulled pork, chicken, and whey shake powders. And while I never give up hope, it’s a tough sell. All I try to do is be a happy vegan, a good person, and don’t push it (in person).

  • 6 Jahren ago

    Couldn’t agree more. Thanks.

  • 6 Jahren ago

    So well-said, Mihl. Thank you for this post.

  • kravensw@aut.ac.nz
    6 Jahren ago

    Great post. I am a fat, fit vegan! Overweight, but I lift weights, run (half marathons even),go to spin classes and swim. I do more exercise than many ‚thin‘ people I know. I don’t get sick much, and when I do rest not antibiotics gets me better. Fat, but reasonably healthy.
    And I eat the stuff that just over 10 years ago people thought was weird (you know nuts, seeds, tofu, beans and fresh fruit and vegetables). Turns out that we were right all along.
    I really like the sentiment about compassion, not just for animals, but for ourselves and fellow human beings.

  • panda cookie
    6 Jahren ago

    Yes yes.

  • 6 Jahren ago

    good post! i wrote an article about being a vegan at any size for my current zine. i was tired of this new trend of promoting veganisim as a miracle diet by a lot of people who have never dieted in their life!

  • 6 Jahren ago

    Right on! I’m all for trying every vegan morsel of goodness being cooked, baked, grilled, etc. We’re constantly bombarded with posts to cut down on oil and sugar. I love dessert and will never pass up good vegan dessert.
    Cheers!

  • 6 Jahren ago

    I relate so strongly with what you’re saying here. I went vegan for ethical reasons, first and foremost, and the health aspects still aren’t something that I’m really all that concerned about. I like delicious vegan food, and I’m not going to apologise for it.
    I have been absolutely heartbroken to see an organization I once respected stoop so low as to insult people and hurt people into changing to a diet that I’ve otherwise found peaceful and ethical. I’m tired of the fatphobia I see (from PCRM/PETA/other vegans), but I especially hate it when it is used to guilt people into hating themselves just a little bit more in the name of veganism. No thank you.

    But thank you for this post. <3

  • Kim
    6 Jahren ago

    Although I just decided to try the sugar-free thing for a month just to see whether or nor it offers any health benefits, I didn’t go vegan for health reasons or to lose weight. In fact, I gained 20pounds within only a few months of living on a vegan diet, so „weight“ wasn’t high on my agenda. I made the change because of ethical reasons. And environmental reasons.

    By and by, I became a fan of healthy eating. Obviously, health & veganism don’t need to go together, but I like finding „healthy“ vegan recipes because both are important to me. I personally believe that striving for a healthy body (weight only being a part of this) is a good thing. I believe that a sound mind benefits from a healthy body and vice versa. But this is my personal belief. Who am I to say it’s the truth?

    That being said, what I think is that people lost touch with what they are eating, regardless of their diet. I’d like to see cooking classes back in school. Obviously, the curriculum shouldn’t be „How to lose weight with home cooking“ but simply to learn how to roast broccoli and what kind of nutrition it contains. Only when you know what you eat can you make informed choices about what you put into your body. And then it’s up to the individual to set their own priorities, find their own balance in tune with their own body. What works for one person doesn’t have to work for another. We are all responsible individuals. Other people may evaluate things differently than we do; they choose differently for different reasons. We have to respect that.1

    _____
    1 I was tempted to say: „When it’s by choice and not by lack of information, we have to respect that.“ But isn’t that patronising? Isn’t lack of information in many (most?) cases also a choice? After all, it’s all out there, if you want to find it. Oh dear…

  • 6 Jahren ago

    Fantastic post! Could not agree more. I’ve noticed this shift as well and I hate that I’ve even felt guilty for using sugar/white flour/fat. These things are after all, still vegan.

    (Although, I must confess that I do actually like counting calories which I explain here: http://maplespice-eats.blogspot.com/p/calories.html ;-))

    I’ll still happily have sugar laden vegan cake for breakfast or something deep fried if I fancy it now and again. Moderation is absolutely key.

    Excellently written piece!

  • 6 Jahren ago

    What a great post, Mihl. I couldn’t agree more–it does seem as if vegan blogs are „the new women’s magazines“! For me, cutting out the sugar was a necessity–I was never so sick in my life as I was when my candida spiralled out of control. Eating low glycemic has been a lifesaver for me. I also believe in whole foods in general–I think foods that are not processed (or minimally processed) are simply better for our bodies and health. I have nothing against conventional treats with sugar, flour, shortening, etc–in fact, my hubby eats that way all the time–for those whose bodies can tolerate it (and if they don’t have an addiction to sugar like I do). I think the problem in North America, though, is that far too many of us have very unhealthy relationships with our food. Sadly, years of abusing white sugar, white flour, processed fats, and so on have created a situation where many people are risking their health and longevity if they continue to eat that way. But most things–even high fat, high sugar, high flour foods–are fine in moderation.

  • unwesen
    6 Jahren ago

    Hear, hear!

    IMHO „vegan for slimming reasons“ and „vegan for health reasons“ are two entirely different pairs of shoe. I can support the second, while the first leaves be a bit disappointed.