Stop shaming people for their diets

Illustration by Ed Appleby

Illustration by Ed Appleby

Don’t make other’s food choices your business

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor

People are diverse in their diet choices, perhaps now more than ever before. Food allergies, religious beliefs, and concern for the environment or animal welfare all play a part in what we choose to eat. Particularly in urban areas, increased choice in groceries and restaurants has made it easier than ever to follow a diet different from the cultural norm.

Almost as common as alternative diets are the stigmas and jokes that go along with them. Anyone who eats differently can tell you stories of people failing to understand, judging, or joking about their food choices. Extremely smug meat-eaters mock vegetarians and vegans about their personal convictions.

Many diets are based on moral beliefs. But it’s not just a concern for animal welfare, Muslims, Jews, and some Christians all have dietary restrictions based on their religious teachings. Questioning what someone else eats and challenging their moral values is not likely to end well for either of you. Criticizing a deeply-held personal belief is very, very unlikely to change someone’s mind, and makes you look intolerant.

It has always blown my mind that anyone would care about what others eat. Many of these critics also suddenly become nutritional experts, and start questioning how someone gets all their protein. They may also fail to understand the concept of adapting to modern society, saying things like “If we aren’t meant to eat animals, then why are they made of meat?” (Humans are also edible and made of meat, but cannibalism is generally discouraged in most places today.)

Although many question someone’s diet solely because they’re smug about their own personal choices, some do it out of genuine concern for the person’s health. This still stems from a place of ignorance, as a variety of diets can be healthy or unhealthy. Some meat-eaters eat incredibly nutritious, balanced meals that follow the recommended food pyramid. Some vegans eat incredibly unhealthy food full of preservatives and fats. Junk food and unhealthy meals are not limited to one type of diet. It is personally insulting someone when you question their diet, because you are suggesting they are not capable of making healthy choices for their own body.

Nutritionists—people with actual education about food—are divided on certain diets, particularly newer concepts that have been recently introduced. The gluten-free trend continues to be debated. Nevertheless, it is agreed that trying a certain diet rarely hurts the body, as long as one continues to get their nutrients from other sources.

Regardless of the actual validity of anyone’s diet, it is none of your business. Food choices are very personal and an essential part of everyone’s identity. Diets vary widely for cultural, religious, moral, and health reasons. Questioning what someone eats will not lead to them making different choices, nor will it make you look good in any way. Simply put: don’t do it.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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