Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On 'hefty herbivores' and other such fabled creatures.....


I finally did it.

I went to the gym this evening on my way home from work. For the first time this year.

And it was tough. I really felt it and wondered, for the umpteenth time, how the hell it is that I am still so fat?

I have been vegan now for 15 months and I haven't really lost any weight. Now, I should say up front that weight loss and health reasons are not why I went vegan. Not in the least. I made the change from my previously largely omni diet when I discovered the truth about the animals - how they live and how they die, and I could bear no further part of that.

However, whenever I catch myself thinking of 'vegans' in the abstract, perhaps of the stereotype, I think of slender willowy types with glossy shiny hair, perfect teeth and toned bodies.

I do not, in short, think of me.

OK, so I am rational. I am perectly able to see that it took 30+ years for me to get to this state and it's going to take a while to put things right. But I can't help but feel discouraged and disappointed because I have the impression - right or wrong - that the vegan diet is naturally healthier, lower in all of the bad things and higher in the good ones. Is more sustaining, nutrient-dense and calorie-poor and that a healthier body is an inevitable by-product of a healthier way of eating.

And no, it's not a case that I 'cheat' from time to time, secretly gorging on hot dogs and cheese pizza. Because I do not. I would as soon snack on a hot dog as I would on my own dog. To me, the hot dog is not food; it is the desperate remains of a once beautiful, intelligent, sensitive creature whose desire to live matched my own. The cheese on the pizza is little more to me than the product of a grief-stricken mother whose baby has been stolen from her. So, no, I do not 'cheat'; I have no interest in those things.

But the question persists: am I the only fat vegan out there? Am I the exception that proves the rule when it comes to plant-based nutrition? We are so bombarded by images of svelte gorgeous vegan women and I am beginning to question the underlying assumption that veganism = slenderness. (There are, after all, svelte and gorgeous meat-eaters out there, folks who wouldn't know a snowpea if they tripped over it on the way to the steakhouse.)

So, in tandem with committing *once again* (sigh) to regular stops at the gym on the way home, I am launching a study: where are the 'hefty herbivores'? the 'portly-plant eaters'? the 'vegans of size'? Am I in a club of one?? Or are there kindred souls out there, sheltering behind their autographed copies of Skinny Bitch?

Watch this (somewhat substantial) space...

...oh, and Stay Vegan, Friends.


Anonymous said...

Hey there Amanda

well yes I am (thanks to you) a vegan since April of last year when I came across the 'pond' to stay with you. I followed your advice and embraced the vegan 'diet' for health reasons, being diabetic, it has reduced my blood sugar level to almost normal (even for someone who is not diabetic) and also I have lost almost 1 stone and a half, (that is 21 lbs)..................the practise nurse at my doctor's surgery is very pleased with me and also interested in the book I brought back with me regarding eating my way out of diabetes, by Dr Neil Barnard, so much so that she bought a copy for the practise, can't say fairer than that.
Of course being an animal lover I have looked into the way they are 'farmed' and killed, in order to be present on our dinner plates, and have been horrified at the practises employed. I am 70 years old this year and am so glad that I have become VEGAN, but to answer the main question in you blog, I am still overweight according to the average, but I do feel much healthier than I used to, and really who says thin is better than fat if you feel OK, its all in the mind and how you feel about yourself really, being happy with yourself is the most important thing, so say self love, but I think it is about respect for yourself and what you truly are that matters..........
Anyway thanks for what you did for me last year in changing my way of life.........
Much love Cybermomma

Poookie said...

Your post made me want to delurk.

Only Fat Vegan??? I felt the same way when I started. Not a tattoo or piercing on me. Not a punk. Very pale. Not at all a Skinny Bitch. But I started looking at all the blogs with Google Reader and I discovered we are all unique.

Nope, you certainly are not alone. I'm a whopper, and if you look on the blogosphere, there is one or two blogs that are titled things Chubby or Pleasantly Plump Vegan... Pictures of plus sized vegans abound. Heck, even Oprah tried it for a month.

We didn't get overweight overnight. We certainly don't eat as much cholesterol as omni's. It's easier to get our veggies with our lifestyle. We get healthier each day eating vegan, and I feel karma makes me happier and more grateful and satisfied with my life, so I eat less from depression or control issues.

Bottom line, calories consumed must be less than calories burned. Vegan doesn't always mean healthy. After all, PETA's accidentally vegan website of common foods list all Duncan Hines mixes, Top Ramen, and Fritos as vegan, but you won't lose any weight on a diet of them.

Keep it up. After a few months of stumbling around, I finally found a good balance of things to keep me satisfied and suddenly the weight came off and I'm down from 250 pounds last year to 210 this year. But I nearly gave up several times in that journey.

Blogs like yours continue to inspire me.

Anonymous said...

girl, i'm so glad i'm reading about someone who's vegan and not a skinny bitch. i can relate to everything you said after being apart of this world myself for about the same amount of time.

right now i'm a size 14, and the thought of that still isn't as overpowering as the thought of eating some vegan donuts. i suppose in any life, it's a matter of balance.

well anyway, you go girl. people like you make realize i'm not alone.

Sara said...

The first year I was vegan, I didn't lose any weight either. I knew I was considered overweight by all government standards (who isn't these days of any normal size). My second year, I didn't lose any weight. Like you, I didn't get into it to lose weight. One things is that I feel healthier eating vegan than I ever did as an omni. And while some may consider me thin (I'm 5'3" and 130 lbs), compared to the 'typical' stereotype vegan..I'm certainly nowhere near it. My sister, who's been vegan just as long as I have (3+ years) has also not lost much weight..although now that she's graduated grad school and her stress is less, she's eating better and now dropping some pounds - but she's always ranged in at 5'3" and about 145 lbs. All her bloodwork (and mine) is healthy, so we don't worry about the weight. We work-out and eat healthy. Sure, the occasional indulgence in the vegan cookie or cupcake, but that's the key..occasional. A vegan diet rich in vegan chocolate cake and french fries does not drop the pounds. A vegan diet high in pasta with little veg does not drop the pounds. A vegan diet high in calories (regardless of their origin) without any caloric burn...won't drop the weight. So if you feel healthy, and try to let go of the stress of losing weight..odds are you'll lose it without realizing. Stress hormones can block cellular metabolism, thus effing up the weight loss.. Keep up the healthy consumption and working out, and before you know it - your body will be the sveltest it can be and that's all we can hope for and love.

Zucchini Breath said...


I would like to tell you that it's processed foods that make you fat.

I am a wholefood vegan and I have lost 57 lbs since june.

I'm still chubby at 160 lbs but not since i quit eating gluten, corn syrup and other additive laden foods the pounds are leaving. On a jet plane.