on veg* and privilege

cross-posted from tumblr.

nb: Will use Veg* as a catch-all term for meatless diets.

I am so sick of hearing this: VEG* IS A CHOICE IF YOU HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO CHOOSE IT.

And to this Thursday says fuck off.

firstly, Otherising! being a vegetarian has never accorded me any benefits in any system. it makes society difficult to navigate because eating together is such a large part of the cultures I grew up in; limitations on my diet are the subject of hurtful ridicule and endless ostracization (I was even going to write about it for Potluck but never got around to it). and don’t think I don’t face problems here in the UK, i have to check & double check during outings or worse, eat beforehand to make sure I’m provided for because we’re going out of our way and you can’t complain about it, you know?

secondly, context matters! for me at least, being desi & vegetarian is a class thing: it’s economically more prudent to be growing plant products & consuming those rather than expending the energy and effort to maintain livestock. & there are often weird subsidies courtesy of the Government which makes a veg* diet a much more viable idea. which is not to say there aren’t other factors influencing either my dietary choices or that of other desis — it’s important to consider this issue of class when you realise that when there is a large percentage of the population at economic disadvantage, eating meat is very much a privilege! (psst, talk to doctors who have told my father to change his diet because omg lack of protein EAT MEAT!!)

thirdly, erasure! the veg* that you see is packaged all nicely by teh companies & marketed to upperclass / upper middle class fauxgressives. if they have adopted this lifestyle it is not because of me or other people outside the target group who are veg*. in fact, we are often punished because our meatless diet does not fit the one that is ~ethical~ by mainstream ang moh standards. & worse so when our food identities are more complicated than just veg*. if they wave their privilege all over the place and you notice that (which you often do because ignoring them is impossible), it erases our lived reality, k? stop it.

lastly, veg* diets are not for everyone! please stop demonising people who eat meat. there’s all sorts of health conditions or personal choices that would turn a person away from veg* diets, and this definitely intersects with constructions of race and religious background. food identity is bloody complicated & meat-eaters are not automatically people who are horrid animal-haters out to destroy the world! for the love of God! i am not involved on this vegvangelical (o hai nice word) front because as you can glean from this post, i clearly don’t identify with it.

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