I was at a family function recently at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Yarra River. The Studley Park Boathouse overlooks the river, nestled among gum trees, alive with ducks and geese, kayakers and rowers . In the evening you can watch the flying foxes take experimental dive bombs from the gums, and then return to their perches and wrap themselves up in in their wings.
It was a set menu, and it all started with the seemingly innocuous words, ‘I’ll have the tart, thanks’.
I had committed a grave sin: I had ordered a vegan main. I made no declaration of animals’ rights, of carbon footprint or land or water usage. No lecture about attempting to reach energy equality in a world where most middle-class Westerners consume 11MJ or more, and most people in developing countries live on 2MJ or less. All I had said was that I would like to eat the food labelled on the menu as ‘onion tart’.
Someone asked if I was going vegan, I answered honestly, and I spent the next five minutes listening to lectures about how soy will give me breast cancer; how even if I lived in the forest and ate only carrots I grew myself I would never be perfect; how veganism was unnatural and I would never get enough protein. Ahh, family gatherings. Sustaining the world’s alcohol industry since at least the 1950s .
That’s when I decided to embark upon my new diet, which I have dubbed ‘Screw You, it’s Not Chocolate Cake’ (syincc for short).
My partner has been on this diet for several years, and he swears by it. In a society filled with ridiculous magazines about how to get ripped, along with fat shaming, diet shaming, fitbits and physically improbable aspirations like ‘the thigh gap’, it seems like the only sane dietary approach left.
Comments on my diet are nothing new to me – nor are comments on my body. Having been overweight for about 12 years, I have been treated to comments like:
‘You’ll never lose weight if you drink Coke.’
‘You’ll never lose weight if you eat fruit.’
‘You’ll never lose weight if you eat [carrots, capsicum, bread, grapes….].’
And my personal favourite (drum roll, please):
'You should be a plus-size model.’
I chose to take the last one as a compliment on my assuredly stunning Rubenesque beauty. The former were rather confusing, as I had never expressed to any of these individuals a desire to reduce my body mass .
features of the syincc diet
The ‘Screw You, it’s Not Chocolate Cake’ diet comes with many new and exciting features:
Comments on your body and on your diet are very intrusive. Unless the source is:
- a close friend or loved one and
- expressing concern at your drinking/overeating/undereating/smoking or drug habits, and
- expressing a desire to support you through whatever stressful situation is causing your habits,
Some may question the relevance of veganism to the ‘Screw You, it’s Not Chocolate Cake’ diet. But to me they are pretty much under the same umbrella. If you want to eat plants, there is absolutely, totally, nothing wrong with that, and whether or not your soy latte is going to enlarge and en-cancer your breasts can stay between you and your GP or dietitian . Same goes for any other diet you choose. Your body, your rules.
optional add ons
What if, radically, we decided to let others eat whatever they please? What if we decided that bodies are all awesome, given their really awesome and amazing abilities ? What if we told people to fuck off when they intruded upon our bodies and our diets – the same way we would if they touched our bellies randomly in public?
What if – shock horror – we focused on the emotional reasons that cause people to eat what they do, and not on the eating itself? I think that this new focus would quickly interrupt the impulse to comment on acquaintances’ diets, or to comment on others’ diets in public. Asking someone how they’re feeling is for a close friend and a private one-on-one.
coming up next
Next week, we discuss the diet’s second phase, entitled ‘Screw You, I Love Chocolate Cake’.