Relationships with food are tricky at all times of year, but this is especially the case in January. From the pressures of new year resolutions to weight-loss goals and fitness challenges, January highlights the swing from decadent December eating to body-shaming that’s associated with “getting in shape.” Or, in the words of a recent article by Zoe Fenson: “January is the month of body shaming. I’m tuning out.”
In recent years, January has also been fashioned as “Veganuary,” which has tied vegan eating with the body-shaming, fat phobia, and the weight loss goals of January. This conflation marginalizes bodies not associated with the “mythical norm,” centers whiteness in veganism, and undercuts the potential of veganism to counter injustice. (And let me add that of the many reasons I’m vegan, weight loss hasn’t and won’t make the list.)
So, this January—within this messy context—let’s talk about our relationships with food.
Upcoming Webinar: A Conversation about Our Relationships with Food
Next week (January 28th) I’m offering a new webinar: “A Conversation about Our Relationships with Food.”
The goal is to use contemplative practices and freewriting to ground and guide a conversation about our relationships with food. During the hour-long webinar, we’ll prioritize storytelling, reflect on lived experiences, and set intentions.
Instead of providing answers, we’ll together explore a series of questions:
- How do we describe and understand our relationships with food?
- What relationships do we each want to cultivate? And why?
- What brings us closer to “right relationship” with food and all that food is connected with, including humans, non-human animals, and the earth?
- What relationships support “everyday living for justice”?
What Guides This Conversation about Food?
Though many sources are influencing my thinking and desire for this conversation, here are three key influences:
1. I feel especially energized by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, which shares the idea of the honorable harvest as a form of ethical reciprocity. Here’s an introduction to the honorable harvest explained by Kimmerer:
2. I continue to learn from books like Veganism of Color: Decentering Whiteness in Human and NonHuman Liberation (edited by Julia Feliz Brueck) and Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society (edited by A. Breeze Harper) and from films like The Invisible Vegan (directed by Jasmine and Kenny Leyva). Check out this trailer for the film, which gets into historical, social, cultural, economic, and structural issues around eating:
3. My own relationship with food includes struggles with sugar, work with naturopaths and acupunturists, and coming to veganism through ecofeminism and antiracism. My values for eating include countering perfectionism, relating with food as nourishment, and inquiring into my body’s signals with greater curiosity and mindfulness.
This work, therefore, involves interrupting internalized sexism and whiteness. And it means that relationships with food are also about embodied experiences in the world, constructed through settler-colonialism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and interlocking oppressions.
How Will I Keep Exploring My Relationship with Food?
Beyond this webinar, I’m planning to read the book Racial Ecologies (edited by LeiLani Nishime and Kim Hester Williams); to learn more about the history and continued harms of sugar; and to invest in daily practices like drinking veggie broth and composting—practices likely to support a more life-giving relationship with food.
I’ll keep asking the questions that guide the upcoming webinar toward working to establish a more honest, ethical, and consistent relationship with food. Knowing that it’s not possible to eliminate harm, I’m asking: “How can I minimize harm in this moment, with each food choice?”
And, truly, I’d love to be in conversation with you about our relationships with food and how eating can interrupt injustice and instead be part of everyday living for justice.
This post is written by Beth Godbee, Ph.D. for Heart-Head-Hands.com. For related posts, you might be interested in the series “why vegan?” and in simple vegan + gluten-free recipes. You can also register for the webinar here.
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