Writing 101: You Are What You Eat
Instructor: Haleema Welji
I grew up with all the typical prejudices against veganism, but quickly changed my opinion and adopted a vegan diet after learning about the environmental impact of industrial animal agriculture and sympathizing with certain aspects of animal ethics. As I became deeply passionate about veganism as a healthy, environmentally conscious, and ethical lifestyle, I encouraged my friends and family to eat more plant based.
For nearly two years before the beginning of quarantine in March 2020, I had largely ignored the aspects of veganism that push so many people away from the diet: privilege, elitism, and the overall feeling that vegans think they’re better than you. With the extra time and extra impetus of the BLM protests, I went down an internet hole to understand the intersections of privilege, racism, and diet elitism. I realized that it was not so much the food that posed a problem, it was the insensitive culture of veganism. When the time came to examine a food justice issue for my big paper in Dr. Welji’s Writing 101 class, You Are What You Eat, the topic I wanted to explore came naturally to me: the problematic ideas perpetuated by vegan restaurants, specifically in Los Angeles. In researching and writing this paper, I questioned my own privileges and pushiness with my diet and confronted the many reasons why veganism remains so problematic as a diet and lifestyle. Even though the topic is quite niche, I hope my paper raises general awareness about diet elitism and encourages readers to question the way restaurants promote diet culture.
I would like to thank Dr. Welji for encouraging me to dive deeper into a topic I’m passionate about and for guiding me throughout the writing process. I would also like to thank Sheryl and all the members of the Deliberations Editorial Board who gave me feedback that helped me find the nuance in my argument about veganism.