Food and feelings – or, why clean eating and veganism is not the answer

Anita Cassidy

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Most of the vegetarian and vegan cookbooks I’ve read recently include sentences such as: “We instantly felt better” “My skin became so clear and my hair all shiny, I felt amazing”.

This is great! I’m so happy when people find ways of eating and drinking that help them feel good. However, these statements tend to be very sweeping. Adopting and enjoying a certain way of eating doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone nor that you’ll never get ill or feel like staying in bed all day ever again. There’s so little room for nuance, complexity and the reality of ever-changing needs in how those selling certain ways of eating and being in the world are talking, writing and ‘gramming.

The wellness mantra of clean, light, healthy energetic is just capitalism and patriarchy for: straight sized and productive.

Veganism is not a panacea. No diet is. We feel how we feel. Yes, I agree that some foods and ways of eating can help some of us feel better in our bodies but they will not make us feel great all of the time. Actual medical and biological issues aside, there is no answer to feeling bad other than just, well, feeling bad.

There’s also the issue of living within the structures of 2020. White supremacism, sexism, homophobia, rampant capitalism, entrenched patriarchy being just a few of the most problematic structures. The systems sucks far too hard for far too many and so it will feel bad most of the time especially if you’re not fitting into your allotted space and walking down your socially idealised and normalised path.

How we feel and are in the world is complex and ever shifting. Unfortunately, this message is not very ‘grammable and so it tends to get lost under the sheer weight of the shiny food and wellness scrolling.

As David says in Appetite – feeling shitty won’t kill you but the shit you do to stop feeling shitty just might. Tuning into what you eat that feels good in your body is a great idea, relaxing about how and what we eat can also be helpful. Strain and anxiety will not help you feel good. Putting extra pressure on yourself will not help you feel good. Learning to deal creatively and patiently with difficult feels and difficult days, or even weeks, will.




BBC Reel video short on polyamory / non-monogamy

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