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V Is For Vitriol: Harper’s Bazaar Dishes on Veganism (And It Don’t Taste Good!)

Published on July 27, 2012 by   ·   106 Comments Pin It
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Too bad a leading women’s magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, took an amazing opportunity to enlighten and educate many of their high-fashion, career savvy, and health conscious readers about the vegan diet, and flushed it down the proverbial toilet! In its August issue (pg. 168), writer Alex Kuczynski skips research and personal testimonies, and chooses instead to play to acrimony amid new mothers, shallow reasoning behind going vegan (skinny celebrities), and then suggests eating a cheeseburger is the answer.

Seasoned fashion writer, Kuczynski, who has written for major fashion mags like Vogue, Lucky and who started her career at The New York Times, uses her sharp pen to shred the good intentions of other women. She offers up stars like Alanis Morissette and Jessica Chastain as the poster ladies of the new dieter “seeking to lose blubber, not save the whales,” the article states. Morissette attributes her “20-pound weight drop to going vegan,” says Harper’s, and Jessica Chastain is quoted as saying, “I used to think about dieting, but I’m vegan now, so it’s not really a problem.”

Los Angeles nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella says, of her vegan clients: “Vanity and weight loss is the number-one thing that’s driving this.”

While losing weight is not an undesirable goal, the story solely focuses on this aspect of the vegan lifestyle, instead of the ethical and life-changing qualities, like harmony with nature, animals, and others. Not to mention abstaining from supporting the factory farming industry. Being vegan has many health benefits, like lower cholesterol, lower cases of heart disease, and casein-free food. Casein is a phosphoprotein found in mammalian milk (80% of the protein in cow’s milk), and a leading cause of cancer, many studies show.

More than anything, it’s the unbalanced tone the writer takes, condescending to new mothers by calling them “yummy mummy” (a slang term used in the United Kingdom to describe young, attractive and wealthy mothers), and playing into typical woman-vs.-woman territory. Claiming that one mother at a recent gathering admitted to being “secretly” vegan for two years, another mother says, “Please… I call that a ham-sandwich-eterian.”  The once “radical lifestyle” is now an irksome “moral high horse,” Harper’s says.

By the end, Kuczynski insinuates that any benefits of a vegan diet are temporary.

“My sister, Carolina, who turned to veganism while recovering from breast cancer, said it made her feel more mellow. After nine months, though, ‘the halo wore off’, she says, and all I wanted was a cheeseburger.”

Have I been reading too much Bust Magazine? Or, is this not an act of passive-aggressive self-congratulation for being part of the mainstream food chain, not to mention an acquittal for their own guilt over fur-laden ads and meat-filled tummies?

What do you think? Read the article below, and tell GGA: Are we overreacting, or was this one very bitter look at an otherwise harmonious lifestyle?

via harpersbazaar.com

To complain or comment to the Harper’s gals, email them their site and tweet at ’em @harpersbazaarus.

Darrah Le Montre is a freelance journalist and consultant, with a focus on sensuality, environmentalism, and fearless women in the media. She appears as a “Woman on the Street” on The Conversation. Her lifestyle writing and celebrity interviews have appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W, among others.  She contributes author and filmmaker interviews to The Rumpus. Darrah’s column for SuicideGirls,“Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina” takes a fresh look at females in America. Twice monthly, Ms. Darrah co-hosts SG Radio on Indie 103.1 FM. She lives in LA with her doggie Oscar Wilde. Subscribe to her blog at darrahdejour.com and friend her on Facebook and Twitter @blyssdarrah

Front story image via Sarah Illenberger

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Readers Comments (106)

  1. James Costa says:

    Another fashion victim to stupidity over sense. What a moron.

  2. Ari says:

    This article is shameful. Sounds like Kuczynski has some issues of her own to work through.

  3. Marissa says:

    Interesting how mainstream magazines seem to hone in on the restrictive aspect of veganism (shocker!) when in reality, people who go vegan and commit to it for ethical and moral reasons see their decision as an expansion in diet and consciousness. Anytime a man goes vegan, the concern is about whether or not he will whittle down into a beanpole (no pun intended). When women go vegan, the focus is on how much weight they lose and how shiny their skin is. Get over yourself, Harper’s.

    PS: Being vegan takes a lot of strength. We rescue animals, hold protests, and make real changes in the world. Let’s see an article on that.

  4. i think you hit the nail on the head with:

    “Have I been reading too much Bust Magazine? Or, is this not an act of passive-aggressive self-congratulation for being part of the mainstream food chain, not to mention an acquittal for their own guilt over fur-laden ads and meat-filled tummies?”

  5. Blythe says:

    Unfortunately, it appears we can’t expect much in terms of depth from a (predominantly) fashion magazine — former NY Times writer or not.

    I myself am not a vegan. However, I appreciate your thoughtful articulation and informed opinion. Please keep up the good work, Darrah.

  6. Nikki says:

    August’s Marie Claire also disses veganism in the article, “The Vegan Myth”. Says many people go vegan so they can feel less guilty about eating junk food. The article is very slanted and poorly done. Get a clue, people!

  7. irene says:

    The Vanity Fair article is not only insultingly dismissive of what is a conscious health choice for many, it is also pretty obviously biased towards the writer’s personal issues around food. Anyways, I’d rather be a naturally healthy, slim and youthful vegan than a heavily Botoxed, artery-clogged fashion writer any day. Does that sound rude? Well, it’s no ruder than reducing an entire moral and health movement to “vegan vanity”.

  8. There was a similar disturbing article in the August issue of Marie Claire called “The Vegan Myth” which is also quite disturbing!!!

  9. Bobbie M. says:

    Hey, Marie Claire and Harper’s, why you be hatin’? I suppose for every trend, there’s the inevitable backlash. Way to be predictable.

    I’ve been vegan for over 20 years and my “halo” is still intact. Kale still tastes great and I have absolutely no desire to eat a cheeseburger, ever. And no, it’s not about weight loss, as if there’s anything wrong with that, it’s about concern for my health, the environment, and the animals, as if there’s anything wrong with that.

    Not sure why “eating decently”, as G. B. Shaw put it, riles some people up so much.

  10. Michelle says:

    This Harper’s publication is a judgemental article from a misinformed, narrow-minded perspective. Perhaps the author should have expanded her circle of interviews to include some vegan-and-happy women who love not only their waistlines, but also their clear consciences.

  11. Suasoria says:

    I think you’re overreacting somewhat. Here’s why:

    There are many reasons to go vegan. Health, weight loss, and vanity are some of them. However these reasons tend not to keep people vegan, as the article rightfully points out. The same ego mindset that wants self-improvement also wants self-gratification.

    The internets are full of this celeb or that athlete “going vegan” (adopting a plant-based diet) for often shallow, self-serving reasons, not animal ethics. Every time we get excited about a celebrity joining our team, we reinforce this idea. And then Natalie Portman starts snarfing down non-vegan cupcakes or some starlet tweets about the purebred puppy she just bought.

    But when people go vegan for ethical reasons, out of a positive interest in animals and a desire to actively help animals, they overwhelmingly seem to stick to it. You can’t unlearn what you’ve learned. Yes there are occasionally ethical vegans who cave in and decide that they’re no longer as interested in animal ethics as they are in eating cheese pizza. (But were they really all that committed to begin with?)

    So I think as vegans we need to take some responsibility for compromising our message in support of this fad of self-serving “vegan diets.” At the same time I think we need to be clear – as the article also rightfully points out – that vegans do not see animals as objects to be used for our pleasure or convenience and means not just diet but no leather/feathers/fur, keeping our homes and bodies cruelty-free, skipping the zoo/circus/sea park/latest blockbuster movie with animal actors, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, I also cheer for people who go plant-based, and animals win too; I just think we could be more conscientious about whether it’s moving the ball forward or not.

  12. Dennis Carlson says:

    This piece is not only silly, it’s inaccurate. Veganism is clearly a healthy choice. At 49, I weigh the same as I did in college, my cholesterol is under 120, my blood pressure is low (despite hypertension in my family) and I am healthy and fit.

  13. Krissy says:

    Sponsored by The American Meat Institute ™. Its an advertisement.

  14. Katya says:

    What a wasted opportunity to SAVE lives. Ignorant, indifferent “journalists” are terrifying.

  15. Corinne says:

    I am fairly new to the vegan world, having only converted several months ago. I find the article vague at best, lacking a main idea or even a thoughtful discussion on any aspect of being vegan. I guess my expectations weren’t set all that high for a publication that can tell me ‘how to kiss’, ‘how to look younger’ or where I can get details on ‘the 2-week diet’ and ‘getting sexy hair’.

  16. Alissa says:

    I had the same reaction. Her article disservices a good cause. To say that veganism is just an excuse to calorie restrict is absurd. Animals, people, planet-all benefit from a vegan diet.

  17. Alissa says:

    It’s funny because I had fuddled with the notion of writing a piece called “Veganism and the Illusion of Vanity,” which would discuss how men seem to make for better advocates since our society assumes women dietarily restrict out of insecurity. Men who take care of themselves, have strict diet and exercise, or love animals are praised.

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