“Oh God, are you one of those rabbits?”
I heard this said to me and quickly responded, “No!” and grabbed a piece of banana bread. But as I thought upon the moment later, why would I be so quick to deflect a healthy diet such as veganism and be ashamed of my eating habits?
In a day and age of millions of diets and restrictions, food and dietary choices are judged more than ever. While most focus on others judging our bodies and our other life choices, judgment of food choices is not often spoken about — even though it occurs daily.
Throughout the past couple of years I have tried almost every diet there is. But what matters is that it is my choice. When people ask what the best diet is, or what is healthiest, or even whether or not to be gluten-free, you are inviting others opinions on something that you should base solely on your own body. While to some extent, research and science can be great informative sources to discover what works best for your lifestyle, outside of informing, people should not comment on each other’s habits.
When someone gives veganism, vegetarianism or simply eating healthy a bad connotation like asking if I am “one of those rabbits,” it is shaming a lifestyle that may be the best way for my body to run and makes me feel best. On the flip side, shaming someone for enjoying pizza or indulging in ice cream by saying something like, “you’re going to eat that?” is just as destructive because you are taking away someone’s ability to choose what is best for their life and happiness by imposing your judgment and criticism. What works for one person will not work for everyone.
From another aspect, judging how much or how little someone eats is also not okay. If one truly listens to their body, at one meal they might eat huge amounts and at another they might eat small amounts. They could need snacks every hour one day and 2 large meals another. This flexibility in number, size, quality and content of meals is dependent on a person’s unique life and what they do in it. *The only time when there is an exception is if the habit is immediately detrimental to their health like skipping meals and other signs of eating disorders, in which help should be sought.*
By keeping our opinions to ourselves, we free others to explore options to find what suits their body’s needs best and let them live free of shame. Feeling like others are judging you for what you eat makes you feel guilty and shameful. It was ridiculous that I was feeling these emotions for trying to eat things that were good for my body! Just because you find it hard to eat healthy or couldn’t imagine ever eating a vegan or plant-based diet doesn’t mean you should shame others when they eat that way. Celebrate all diets and lifestyles and support everyone in their life decisions! Whether it be diet, exercise, lifestyle, career, sexuality, fashion — you name it. Let everyone have the freedom to choose and not be ashamed of their choices and we will all live happier lives.
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