Would you stop eating cheese if a billboard linked it to disgusting fatness? An organization of vegan doctors and nutritionists thinks so, as they’ve ordered up several billboards in the Albany area that do just that. As you can see, one billboard features a picture of an obese man’s stomach alongside the caption “your abs on cheese,” while another shows an overweight woman’s thigh “on cheese.” The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: fat-shaming you to better health!
While it’s true that over-consumption of saturated fat has been linked to certain maladies like heart disease and diabetes, that’s not what these billboards are saying. They are saying “ew, fat people are gross! Don’t eat cheese or you’ll be fat, too!” How many times do I have to state that you cannot shame someone for the good of their health, because mental health is a component of health, too?
Vegan organizations seriously need to quit it with this shit. How long will it take for them to realize this is completely counterproductive to our goals? They may think the ends justify the means (the ends being saving animals’ lives), but I’m not convinced these means further our ends at all. All these types of ads ever seem to do is alienate people from the cause, especially those people most likely to be receptive to an animal rights message. Progressives, hippies, and other sensitive individuals are the most likely groups of people to care about animals, but the least likely to appreciate the message that fat people are big, gross monsters. If you can’t pretend you don’t hate fat people because it’s the decent thing to do, pretend you don’t hate fat people for the animals.
Not to mention, veganism is hardly a magic bullet where weight is concerned. There are plenty of vegans who struggle with their weight, and conversely, many skinny people who eat cheese. I had a jiggly little tummy pouch before I went vegan, and you can bet I still have one now. If it were up to me, animal rights campaigns would focus on the very real suffering caused by meat and dairy production as well as the proven health benefits of the diet, without getting nasty about the way people look. Not to mention, “because I want to make my naturally large body small” is a much shakier reason to go vegan than “because I think it’s the right thing to do,” and probably results in a decent portion of the drop-off rate. (See also: Skinny Bitch.)