Is Vegan-Bashing Misogynistic?

The other day, my roommate and I were sitting in the car, talking, when the subject of veganism popped up. This isn't a rare occurrence when we get together because of my self-labeled vegan lifestyle and his openness and participation in the vegan lifestyle since living together. We were discussing how annoying it is when vegans police other vegans. Although I consider myself a vegan and will proclaim myself as such, I don't necessarily follow strict dieting rules, as I know this can often be a slippery slope down a path of unhealthy relationships with food for many people. At least I know for myself, if I start restricting what foods I can and cannot eat, a vicious cycle of restriction and shame/guilt can ensue if I accidently or purposefully don't follow those strict eating guidelines... yikes. However, some people retain strong relationships with their food just by being a whole-hearted vegan through and through. And if that works for them, more power to ya! The problem I find is that sometimes these "hardcore" vegans don't like it when people like me decide to claim veganism, when in reality I'm eating eggs when I go out for breakfast every few weeks and eat that piece of pizza someone offers me at a party. For them, perhaps it's insulting that I get to indulge every now and then while still being a vegan, and they don't allow themselves to do so. But here's one thing I want everyone to understand: there are so many different ways to be a vegan, and all of them help the environment and lessen animal suffering to certain degrees. Check out this great article from Namely Marly, which I think accurately outlines different forms of veganism. 

Now here is where our conversation got interesting: my roommate mentioned that it's funny how a large majority of vegans are women, and men tend to be the minority. Think about it for a second; how many vegans do you know, and how many are women versus men? And it's ironic because our society likes to make vegans the butt of the joke these days. Hmmm... are you starting to catch on? We realized that using "veganism" as the scapegoat for making fun of someone's eating habits pulls the attention away from the observation that A LOT of vegans also happen to be women. Maybe making fun of vegans is just another form of misogyny hiding within the realm of diet. Historically, men have loved to criticize women for what foods they are and aren't putting inside their bodies, and sometimes to the point of controlling what foods women can cook and eat. Women on the other hand also like to berate other women for eating unhealthily, because it makes them feel better about their own, healthier food choices. Uh-oh. So while we love to rag on vegans (myself included!) because it's easier to submit to the seemingly harmless jokes than fight against them, are we actually just submitting to yet another form of misogyny in today's society? 

Check out this article by Bitch Media, where author Kjerstin Johnson discusses the gendered language often surrounding veganism and it's association with being a feminized diet choice. Even the way veganism is marketed can be extremely misogynistic and gendered in a way that shouldn't be acceptable. Having to appeal to men shouldn't mean marketing and language techniques like feminizing meat so that men won't want to eat it in fear they'll be labeled "pussies." Why would what you choose to put in your own body be something that is either "masculine" or "feminine" anyway? It doesn't make much sense to me, and I hope it doesn't to you, either. 

Bottom line: don't patrol what other people eat, and as long as they are healthy and happy, it's none of your business. Taking part in vegan-shaming whether you're inside the community or commenting from the outside-in, is still misogynistic, and maybe it's time to re-evaluate why we might be harassing the vegan lifestyle in the first place. 

[Photos Courtesy of Namely MarlyBitch Media, and Pinterest