Hello love and welcome to my space! It’s Friday so it’s time for another celebration. Shamelessly Fabulous Friday was born out of my desire to share and celebrate folks that inspire me, uplift me and add a little sunshine to my day in the hopes that they do the same for you!
Today I am sharing and celebrating Zipporah creatress of Zipporah The Vegan! I found Zipporah’s Instagram page a few months ago and have been inspired every since. I love the way Zipporah shares ideas about veganism from every angle, from accessibility to calling out problematic vegans in the most loving and compassionate way. Let’s just say, Zipporah keeps it real!
One thing I appreciate about Zipporah is that her activism reaches far beyond veganism, including dismantling diet culture, navigation veganism through an eating disorder and so much more!
I sat down and had a lovely Soulversation with Zipporah and here’s what she had to say:
I like to start with the obligatory but not to be rushed over, how are you?
It’s going well. It’s a good slow morning. I got an article out which is really exciting. It’s a good day.
I saw that, so you’re going to be talking about intuitive eating. That’s my jam. I didn’t even know what it was called.
It’s a pretty whitewashed term basically just to tell people to eat normally. It’s really good to go through the different pillars and put words to the practice especially in a world that is so fatphobic and centered around diet culture.
Can you share your vegan journey with us?
It was actually quite a long process/journey because I had an eating disorder. The food aspect of it took a lot of time. I did a few food swaps over a long period of time. It started when I was in high school. I saw this video called ‘Meet your Meat’ and I was 13, at the time living at home so it was not feasible for me, but I knew that veganism is the end goal. I can’t contribute to this knowing what happens, it did not sit well with me. I showed a few of my peers and they felt it was wrong but not enough to want to change. So that was pretty interesting to me because I was like, how can we witness this violence and this harm and be like, ‘i don’t want to change’ and not even change over night, just eventually.
As I progressed on my journey in terms of learning other forms of oppression and learning about other forms of social justice, especially as it pertains to blackness and anti-black racism. It got to a point where I was like, I can’t say that I’m against violence and harm, while actively participating in this system. I had already done a few of the dietary changes over a few years. I was super intentional about it. I knew that I did not want to be a part of that system.
It was a little hard, especially having an eating disorder, people in that community see veganism as a restriction and that’s why I like to talk about the other side of things and how eating plant based can actually help you with your eating disorder. Once I went vegan, it opened up a whole different world. I was actually able to treat myself more compassion because I was showing other individuals compassion because I’m not eating them. It made me realize I didn’t have to engage in these really destructive patterns. My moods were elevated as well because the food that you eat actually does affect your hormones. Once I became vegan I knew I had to advocate and help other people who are on similar journeys see “the light” if you will. Of course I’m not trying push this on everyone because having an eating disorder can complicate the food aspect of veganism. I just want people to know that it’s not restrictive at all and the possibilities are endless.
What is one thing you wish you knew before going vegan?
How easy and fuss free it is.
When did you discover that you had an eating disorder?
From a very young age, it’s rooted in a lot of fatphobia. From the ages of 8 to 9 I was like ‘oh I’m big, I have to lose weight’ so I started dieting very young. So young, I didn’t clock a lot of the things that I was doing as disordered eating patterns. I was restricting throughout the day and then at night I would binge on food because I hadn’t eaten all day and I wasn’t eating what I actually wanted to eat. I wasn’t a fat kid but was definitely bigger than my peers so just eating in public was something I would never do. I tried to limit that as much as possible. My relationship with food was really fucked.
As I was learning about how to go vegan and having that as my objective, I had to find ways to veganize my binges. That was a coping strategy, I wasn’t getting to the root of the eating disorder, I was just telling myself if I wanna binge, I can. And then i was like, if you have to do this but you’re not able to rectify bingeing and that cycle, then maybe that’s a problem. Then I learned about it and knew that I definitely had a binge eating disorder. Being from a Caribbean household, we don’t really talk about those things, those things are not discussed. Unless you’re anorexic or bulimic, bingeing is not something, its just like ‘oh you’re greedy’ kind of thing. Most people that have an eating disorder have binge eating disorder, its the most common eating disorder in the community but you only hear about anorexic people or bulimic individuals who are also very slim. You can be anorexic and not necessarily be super thin and that something that’s not really seen in the community.
I’m unlearning a lot of things and being patient with myself. Now I just don’t feel the need to get into that cycle anymore because there are no foods that I’m like, ‘you can’t have this’. Intuitive eating was really key because it’s not centered around restriction or any particular limitation. Its like, if I can have it anytime then why am i obsessing over it. It’s been really key to me getting over my eating disorder.
When would you say that you recognized diet culture for what it is and when do you think you feel like you broke away from it and started speaking about it?
About 3 years ago, a little after I’d gone vegan.I noticed it because I was following an account that was showing what a skinny vegan would eat vs what a fit vegan would eat, it was so problematic. I started purging social media accounts that were not aligned with what I was trying to unlearn. There are accounts that promote meal prepping, which is not inherently tied to diet culture but when you’re in a position where every meal you eat has been weighed and every macro has been counted that’s sketch. That’s not how your body is designed to live. Its okay to do it for a week just to see what you eat in an average week to see where you’re lacking in terms of nutrients. It was to the point where I was following people that were doing this every single Sunday. I had to unfollow because it was reinforcing this idea that you have to eat in this restrictive manner.
In terms of checking my friends, it pops up in really mundane ways, one of my friends was like, I just really need to lose this quarantine weight’. I had to stop her and say, ‘girl I love you but you we’re not going to talk about this in this way. I’d rather talk about how we’re feeling and what we’re up to but I don’t need to know how you plan on losing weight. She respected it but it was a little abrupt. She then asked why I didn’t want to discuss it and I told her that I’m unlearning diet culture and the way in which you are talking about your body does not sit well with me and I don’t think that losing weight should be at the center of our conversations or our relationships.
I did a nutrition certificate and I got to know a little bit more about how the food aspect and all of these different things that we take for granted in terms of the fit bits and all of the other things that we think we can adopt in order to regulate our weight.
Unlearning diet culture was checking my social media, checking my friends and checking myself and my thoughts. I had to get rid of some of my old clothes because I was having them there in my closet like, maybe i’ll get into that one day. You have to be okay with where you are right now and you shouldn’t hold on to clothes that require you lose a significant amount of weight for you to get into. That’s not healthy. Its a really long process.
What are some steps that you think would help folks with intuitive eating?
Doing research! Nutrition is such an interesting imperfect science and companies know this so they profit off of the ambiguity of things. They can sell you so many different things and unless you’ve done some research, you’re going to be swayed any which way. One key thing is to watch different documentaries on plant based nutrition, read the books and check out some articles because it’s so easy for, especially meat and dairy companies, to promote the idea that you need need to eat these products. All of the principals for intuitive eating can be found online and definitely following like minded people. Surrounding yourself with that energy is so useful.
Let’s talk about your Patreon?
For now its blog posts and recipes. I was posting a lot on my personal blog zipporahthevegan.com but I talk about a few topics that are not taboo but I want to be able to talk about white people and racism without the gaze of someone being like, ‘oh what do you mean by this or that not nice, you can’t say that’, I want to protect my energy. Having it on Patreon allows me to actually speak my mind and the people who are there, want to be there. It’s nice to have a space where I can be myself.
What is keeping you grounded these days?
My night routine. It’s a nice wind down.
What is the book that has had the greatest impact on your life?
Race, Gender and Class by Angela Davis. I read a few of her books prior that talk about the intersections of blackness and feminism and the study of Misogynoir but I found that book just went just so deep and uprooted the history of racism, classism and sexism. You really got to see how black women as well as black fems are treated. There is a long history of us being subjected to different forms of oppression. She highlights it in a way that makes in apparent the way that oppression thrives is that it gives everyone a piece of the pie. For instance, if you look at black men, you’re a masc presenting person in a very patriarchal world, so you do have that privilege as a man and it gives you the incentive to hold on to that privilege and gate-keep things with black women especially because you’re reaping the benefits of being a man in this society. As opposed to recognizing, I’m also facing oppression on the flip side because of me being black and I could use that and connect with black fems and other black people and if we were to get together and denounce this,the benefits would be greater for all of us.
Who inspires you?
My dad. He was like a super pro black, unapologetic ‘with the shits’ kinda guy. I try to follow his lead. When I first went vegan I was very militant, like ‘there’s no excuse now I see the light’ kind of thing. He was like, people are not going to remember what you tell them, their going to remember the way you made them feel. So I was like maybe I should try to be a little nicer, a little more compassionate. He told me, you can’t ask people to be compassionate without showing those very people compassion. What I really loved about my dad is that he was able to take constructive criticism about his own beliefs. He was really someone that walked the talk.
What is one simple thing that brings you joy?
Coffee, a nice cup of black coffee in the morning. Clean sheets.
What are your favorite self care practices?
My night routine.
What is one song that you hear and immediately need to move your body?
What are you grateful for?
Everything. I’m in a good place mentally financially. I have really good people in my corner. I’m surrounded by really good people! I have a lot to be grateful for.
What gives you hope for the future ?
I’m so not hopeful for the future especially with everything going on with the pandemic and people still consuming animals despite the fact that the pandemic is intricately linked to our relationship with the natural world and our overuse of antibiotics. And people are like “wear a mask” and I’m like maybe we should question the way we interact with the natural world. But no one wants to hear that.
This is going to be the beginning of the end. I’m just happy that I’m here and I have access to food, the food that i wanna cook. I’m happy that i can listen to my music and that I’m alive, and I’m just gonna have a good time but as for the future, I am petrified.
What is something a lot of people don’t know about you?
I hate following recipes. Like hate hate. I try to support black creatives as much as possible but I just detest following rules
What are your words to live by, or your motto?
Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter – always helps me center my well-being and ensure that my priorities are in line
Who do you think would fit into Shamelessly Fabulous Fridays?
Where can we find you?
Instagram: Zipporah The Vegan
TikTok: Zipporah The Vegan
Blog: Zipporah The Vegan
Patreon: Zipporah The Vegan
I had too much fun sharing and celebrating Zipporah today! Definitely check her out! Thanks so much for coming to space and until next time, Stay Fabulous, xo