Anonymous asked: What do you think about claims that veganism is ableist towards people with eating disorders?
[Trigger Warning: Discussion of disordered eating, food issues, discrimination, ableism etc]
I think veganism in and of itself is not necessarily ableist, but its use can be.
When the phrase ‘Go Vegan’ is thrown out without caveats or considerations to disability and illness, it can certainly be a tool of discrimination and oppression, whether the people wielding it realise it or not.
Absolutely, for people with Selective Eating Disorder, or other food-related mental health problems such as Anorexia, keeping up a healthy vegan diet can be extremely difficult, if not totally impossible. This population really shouldn’t be browbeaten or judged for their dietary choices: people should recognize the strength it takes them to eat at all. Also, discussing food and diet in itself can be extremely triggering to people struggling with and recovering from eating disorders so as much as you may want to educate and inform others, this may involve compromising their emotional and mental well-being, which I think we can all agree is no good at all.
If this is something you’re interested in reading further on, Nathan Gilmore, a vegan of colour with cerebral palsy-related learning disability and deafness wrote a very illuminating article here called 'Earning the Right to Be Vegan: On the Intersection of Ableist Privilege and Speciesist Power'. He has some really important points about discrimination towards people with learning disabilities:
Ability prejudice can also play out in the even subtler forms of animal rights activism that demand a intimate familiarity with every single hot topic in the movement, or at least, the ability to show yourself well-versed any of a number of disciplines ranging from law to sociology to ethics. While each of these certainly is germane to the broader issue of animal rights, and can be used with great efficiency, might it not be conceivable that the vegan, who for whatever reason (e.g. disability), honestly and truly cannot engage these issues so deeply might read this demand as a slammed door in the face?
There is a similarly illuminating post on vegansofcolor.
I haven’t touched on class privilege in this post because that’s a whole other kettle of fish, and the theme of this blog in particular is mental illness.
Hope that’s of some help to you!
Edit: A related point just popped into my head, so I thought I’d add it: the majority of psychiatric medications are tested on animals, and many contain lactose. If anyone demands that people give these up, well, I’m sure I don’t need to explain how ableist that is.