Do Vegan Fad Diets Cheapen the Vegan Lifestyle?
As a health and fitness blogger, a lot of the bloggers I interact with are foodies. Foodie is a broad term, but in its most general sense, it is people that really, really like food- either making it, eating it, or any combination of the two. A smaller subset is the Health Foodie niche: people interested in health, longevity, sustainability and often organic and local aspects of food and farming.
Vegans and vegetarians are a natural part of the foodie world, as they follow a strict diet (diet in the literal sense as in whatever they choose to eat) that many people don’t understand or are intrigued by. Vegetarians stay away from meat products, either for health reasons, such as allergies or the belief that meat is harmful to the body, or for moral reasons, such as animal rights and not wanting to support the inhumane treatment of livestock. Vegans hold much of the same principles as truths, but they stay away from all animal by products, which includes milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs. This often extends past food into other areas of life, such as refusing to use leather products or support companies that they believe to treat the environment or animals cruelly. This is why veganism and vegetarianism is often called a lifestyle instead of a diet- its not just about food.
Of course, taking an emotional issue like this and trying to examine the motivation behind someone’s lifestyle is not going to leave everyone feeling represented. I have to say these are not the only reasons one would become vegan/vegetarian, and not all are as strict as others in their practices.
As with anything that has to do with food, there is a big, wide gray area as to what is considered healthy, when hobby turns into obsession, and, of course, weight loss. Recently, through out the blogosphere, I have seen many people that use veganism and vegetarianism as a diet- a way to restrict food groups under the socially acceptable blanket term of a vegan and vegetarian diet.
This isn’t to say that they are engaging in dangerous behaviors or are exhibiting signs of an eating disorder, but many liken the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle to a way to eat only fruits and vegetables to lose weight. While they may be eating like a vegan or vegetarian, is it right to label their eating as such? For the vegan and vegetarian lifestylers, not eating certain foods is a way of showing their beliefs- can it still be called such if one is adopting the actions for different motives all together?
Many also straddle the middle, dabbling in meat or dairy restriction just to see if they can do it, or if they will make them feel healthier. Some claim to be “flexitarians” where they only eat meat occasionally, because they like it too much. I think this term is unnecessary because, by definition, you are an omnivore, who doesn’t eat meat very often.
We can all argue until we are blue in the face about whether veganism and vegetarianism is actually healthier for you, but does picking and choosing parts of a lifestyle that suit your needs and then wearing the label, cheapen the values that those living the actual lifestyle hold so dear?
What do you think? Do half-hearted vegans and vegetarians dilute the name down to nothing more than a fad diet?