Ableism In The Vegan Community

Author: A privileged vegan

Hey everyone! Today’s video is going to be about the rampant ableism that is in the vegan movement. Before I begin this video, I want to say that I am a non-disabled person who does not have a mental or physical disability, and is not impacted by ableism, other then well, benefiting from structural ableism which is a privilege so huge yet so invisible that I never even started to question it until about a year ago. So what I say should never speak over the experience of a disabled person, and please please correct me if I make any mistakes regarding how I explained ideas or worded things. I have been wanting to make this video for ages, but there is so much to say on this topic that I never quite knew where to begin. For a long time, I thought I needed to make a video about, you know, “what is ableism 101” video” so that people would understand the gravity of it and be more receptive to why we shouldn’t use ableist language and why vegans need to check their abled privilege urgently. But that always made the videos scripts super long and complicated and yeah I wasn’t able to figure out how to do it. So I’ve decided I’m not going to spend 10 minutes explain what ableism is and why it is serious and why you should care about it and educate yourself, because you just should because you want to be a decent and compassionate human being, and you know, ableism kills other people. Luckily, a long list of amazing people who’s voice is way more important then mine because they are actually disabled have already done this work on youtube so I’ve created a playlist of my favorite videos on this topic which I will link down below so you should go and watch that all the way through.

So I’m just going to talk about some of the most glaring examples of ableism I’ve seen in the vegan community and then briefly talk about the ways that help stop perpetuating ableism. I was guilty of many of these when I first became, because these are such widespread beliefs in the mainstream vegan movement. That unless you consciously oppose them, you will inevitably become even more of an ableist that our ableist society has already conditioned you to be— when you go vegan. That is the sad reality we’re dealing with. Now, this is youtube, and I don’t want to ignore the elephant in the room, even though I want to stay broad. The “carb the fuck up” trend has been very harmful in reinforcing ableism than “carbing the fuck up”.

Luckily, that seems to be subsiding a lot these days, but carbing the fuck up was literally used to legitimate every ableist belief in the book: First and foremost, it took the stigmatization of mental illness to a whole new level and really spread misinformation. Most notably, that illnesses like eating disorders and depression 1) a choice, and 2) caused by not getting sugar carbs to your brain. Durianrider and so many others that follow in his footsteps portray mentally disabled people as people who are victimizing themselves, that are flakey, and weak, When in actuality, disabled people need to work twice as hard and be twice as strong as able people to move about and function in this ableist society, that treats them as less-than and inflicts violence on them. There is so much pseudoscience circulating in the vegan community, and this extends far beyond the Fully Raw or RT4 youtube scene, that vegan diets will cure all diseases regardless of what your doctor tells you. A lot of it is not backed up by scientific evidence, and a lot of the people saying it aren’t qualified to give it. If you are someone who doesn’t know anything about science like me, beyond having seen Forks over knives and heard about the China Study, I would recommend sticking to the broad generalization that eating fruits and veggies is good for you, and that plant based diets can be very healthy. Like, that’s really the extent of the health advice I feel comfortable giving at this point.

Also pushed by the CTFU trend is the belief that exercises will cure mental illness. I remember seing so many instances where people were legitimately upset about something, most often because they spoke out against a diet, or an approach, or an instance of abuse and high carb vegans genuinely responding that if they rode their bike more they would their brain function differently and they wouldn’t be so “crazy”. Like really? what about people who can’t ever ride their bike up a hill, is that segment of the population just doomed to always have their brain function improperly, and according to who’s standards? the belief that food can always replace medicine. Um no, some people need medication to survive, and telling them to get off off their medication— has potentially life threatening consequences.

Ableism In The Vegan Community

Also, people don’t need to be at the point where they are on the verge of life and death to take medication. Sometimes, it is to improve their quality of life, and overcome things like chronic pain, insomnia, PTSD, anxiety. Literally it’s none of your fucking business. Also vegans should be sensitive to people with PTSD or anxiety. There are many emotionally abusive triggering advocacy tactics that vegans use, that alienate people with a history of trauma or oppression. Examples include invoking graphic imagery or lynchings, rape, and murder and shoving it in people’s face if they haven’t asked you. You have no idea what that person’s past is, by doing this you are further alienating from the movement people who are already marginalized.

Another one that I’ve noticed is that vegans should procreate, because they are superiorly intelligent, moral, healthy, rational people. Like, that is straight up eugenics I don’t think I need to go into it too much. But all of this is made even worst by the fact the vegan community constantly uses and tokenizes disabled people to promote their cause and actually benefits off of the structural ableism it is reinforcing. Vegan companies profit off of the stigmatization autistic people and fat people. I’ve also noticed a huge trend the “harden the fuck up” rhetoric, of using disabled people as “inspiration porn”. A woman who is disabled recently told me that: “people with disabilities are underrepresented in the media and when they are on television it's usually for 'inspiration porn' - inspirational is something that a lot of people with disabilities dislike to be called.” Oftentimes, the most visible ways we see disabled people is on memes or mentioned in motivational quotes to basically say “if they can do it, so can you!” I mean you got to admit there’s something seriously ironic about durianrider repeatedly saying you can cure any illness by just “riding harder” but then having 10 different videos up on his channels of people with no arms or legs, to legitimate his horrible ableist harden the fuck up bullshit. Lastly I want to talk about what you can do and what we can do to help stop this.

First, I’d strongly advise you to not do any of the things I’ve mentioned above. There are so many wonderful and kind ways to promote veganism that don’t involve ableism. Also stop using ableist language, that contributes to the stigmatization of mental and physical disabilities, and perpetuate a negative and disempowering view of disabled people. For more information on ableist language, please check out the articles and videos linked in the description box. Also, I would urge you to not talk about things that you might not be qualified to talk about in terms of medicine and not spread pseudoscience. Don’t give unsolicited advice to disabled people and that goes beyond veganism, but that’s just a general statement. I think that the most important thing for me when learning about ableism has been to rewire my brain to understand that having a disability is only a dimension of difference and not a defect. So with that understanding, that it is our ableist system stigmatizes and ranks certain kinds of bodily and neurological variations.

That disabled people don’t need to be fixed, but are rather a natural and valuable form of human diversity. So that’s it for today’s video. I’d love to hear your thoughts down below. Have you noticed ableism in the vegan community and have you personally experienced ableism in the vegan community? I will see you tomorrow with another video. Bye!.

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