Saturday, November 13, 2010

Who says vegans can't be fat?

Let's debunk a stereotype today. Not all vegans are pencil-thin; they do not subsist only on beans and rice; they are not all card-carrying progressives( that in itself is a topic for another day.) You want proof? Just look at me.

The fact is, I love food and I eat too much of it. That is the bottom line. That and the cold hard fact that I don't exercise enough. However or whatever you eat, it all boils down to intake and output. Calories consumed verses calories burned. Not hard to understand and yet perceptions of what vegans are supposed to look like still dictate the odd looks I get on the occasions when I reveal I am a vegan. The surprise in the eyes is brief but I always catch it.

Once when we were discussing this at work, my boss asked me why Alec Baldwin is so fat if he is vegan. At least he had the sense not to ask why I was overweight (incidentally I do not believe Mr. Baldwin is vegan; I read an interview with him a few months ago during which he was eating salmon.) Is it really so hard to grasp that if you eat an entire Tofurkey pizza in one sitting you will gain weight just as if you had eaten at Papa John's?

In 2010 vegans have a smorgasbord of goodies to indulge in. As a new vegan, I reveled in all the choices I have out there, from local places such as Sticky Fingers bakery, to mail order shops like Pangea or Vegan Essentials. Okay, I confess to going a little crazy, ordering and sampling everything under the sun. Have you tried pumpkin marshmallows from Sweet and Sara? If you have, then you see how easy it is to go a little sweet crazy.

So moderation is long overdue in my case. Also I need to look at food as a necessary means of existence, not just a means of consolation during times of high stress and/or depression. This is sadly a common perception of food for vegans and non-vegans alike. How we use food is as important as how we acquire and process it. Even vegan food can be used as a weapon of self-destruction. Sooner or later I need to say no to Emily's Desserts and resist the urge to order chocolatey Little Devils from Sticky Fingers. I like defying stereotypes as much as the next person, but not at the risk of my health. In the long run, what omnivore is going to take a pudgy vegan seriously anyway? THAT is really the question to be considered.

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