The other day in a haze of procrastination, I stumbled upon the YouTube account of infamous vegan ‘Freelee the Banana Girl’. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she’s a blogger of sorts who advocates a vegan, plant based diet. Her YouTube account, which boasts a following of over 450k subscribers, features videos of her scrutinizing the diets of various celebrities and public figures, and it’s the person she’s most recently attacked that has gained her quite a bit of attention.
Yes, last week she called out super vlogger, Zoella, naming her a hypocrite (because she eats meat, but loves her dog) and stating that she’s preventing fellow YouTuber and boyfriend, Pointlessblog, or Alfie, from pursuing the vegan lifestyle she reckons he so desperately wants. A huge claim for someone who is not close to either of the pair.
It’s not just Zoella and Alfie who have fallen victim to this vegan critic; Freelee’s videos frequently feature her passing judgement on a number of celebrities, from Cara Delevingne, to Rihanna and even Harry Styles. In these videos, the vegan blogger guesses the weight and height of her subject in order to work out their BMI and then ticks off all the bad things they consume, from the mild meat and dairy products to the extreme class A drugs such as cocaine. After enlightening herself with this information, she then advises them to go vegan or (in her favorite catchphrase) ‘carb the fuck up’.
If you can’t tell from my rather sarcastic tone, I don’t have much time for Freelee. Don’t get me wrong, I completely admire those who eat a vegan diet, I know how healthy and beneficial it can be. I’m also glad there are people who are passionate about animal rights. But what I do have a problem with is someone trying to force their diet choice upon others, and shaming them for not following it. What Freelee doesn’t seem to take into account as she shouts about her vegan lifestyle, is that not everyone is able to make such a switch. There are a whole myriad of factors that come into it, most notably cost. Someone living with a single parent on less than £16,000 isn’t really going to be able to make the jump to a vegan diet (or at least not a very healthy or fulfilling one). Dairy and meat substitutes are often vastly more expensive than their real counterparts, and for a parent working full time, trying to make different dinners for two separate diets is going to be a pretty stressful task. Health is also a pretty big factor, someone recovering from an eating disorder, for example, might struggle to do this properly on just a plant based diet.
We have the freedom to choose what we do and do not eat. Just as someone has the choice to not eat any animal products, someone else also has the choice to eat them. Being passionate about your lifestyle choice is great and telling others about the benefits is okay, but shaming others for not eating the same, criticising them because eat meat is not okay, especially when you know nothing about their personal circumstances.