The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

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The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by ray245 » 2019-03-27 03:37pm

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... -to-us-all
Nobody was supposed to see Yovana Mendoza eating the fish. The 28-year-old influencer, also known as Rawvana, has amassed more than 3 million followers across YouTube and Instagram by extolling the life-changing properties of a raw vegan diet. She has built a lucrative brand around veganism. But a couple of weeks ago, Mendoza was recorded eating seafood in a video posted by another vlogger. Realising she was being filmed, she tried to hide the fish, but the jig was up. “It was one of the worst days of my life,” Mendoza told the Daily Beast, recounting the ensuing vicious backlash from “vegan YouTube”. “I felt like someone had died.” Well, mate, someone did die. The fish. That’s why the vegans were angry.

Happily, the fish died for a noble cause. As the controversy escalated, Mendoza posted a 33-minute video titled This Is What Is Happening, where she admitted she had stopped being a vegan for health reasons. Her periods had become irregular, and she had been having digestive problems, so she had started eating animal products to see if that helped. In a perfect universe, Mendoza’s digestion would have been of no interest to anybody but herself. But we live in hell; her video has been watched more than 850,000 times, and the postlapsarian drama (dubbed “Fishgate”) has made international news, covered by everyone from the Washington Post to the South China Morning Post.

It’s not difficult to unpack this story’s virality: people love laughing at vegans. But there is a more serious side. Most obviously, it highlights the artifice of the internet: everybody filters their life to some extent, selling a more aspirational version of themselves.

Fishgate is also a worrying reminder that people are increasingly getting health advice from unqualified online influencers. The registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert told the Telegraph that she had seen a rise in clients coming to her clinic with symptoms resulting from poor nutrition and, in severe cases, with eating disorders, having taken the advice of social media stars.

Not only was Mendoza promoting a restrictive diet that was making her sick, she was extolling dangerous practices, such as 25-day water fasts, to her millions of followers. And she is far from the only influencer promoting extreme eating. Jordan Peterson, a prominent psychologist, has been outspoken about his all-beef diet, claiming it cured his depression and his gum disease. (Unfortunately, it hasn’t cured his pseudo-intellectual prattling.)

The internet seems to have ushered in an unhealthy age of food fundamentalism. There are, for example, “bitcoin carnivores”: a small but intense community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts who believe that you should only eat meat and only use bitcoin. The internet’s ad-centric infrastructure has accelerated this march towards food fundamentalism.

Last year, the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci wrote a piece for the New York Times headlined YouTube, the Great Radicalizer, which argued that the video platform was pushing people towards more extreme content because it helped generate clicks. “Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons,” she wrote. “It seems as if you are never ‘hardcore’ enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.”

“You are what you eat,” has never been so true as it is in the digital era. Whether we are vegan or carnivores, it seems that a lot of us are hungry for community, and will go to extreme lengths to find it. Fishgate may seem funny on the surface, but it’s a tiny part of a much larger problem.
Veganism is a personal choice and it has environmental benefits, but at the same time, people absolutely need to seek medical advice and from a dietitian before embarking on whatever diet that is in vogue. At the same time, it is important not to be stake one's own self-identity based on their diet to the extend of causing harm to themselves and to others. The same applies to those peddling carnivore diet.

I don't think vegans have a right to be angry with someone eating fish based on health reasons, but neither should people peddle diets that is harmful to people. Being dogmatic over lifestyle is never ideal, no matter how empowering it may make the person feel.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Jub » 2019-03-27 03:51pm

Mendoza was selling a lie. These food bloggers profit off of the illusion that they live the life they preach, if the only thing that happens to her is that her youtube career is over she'll have gotten off easy.

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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Broomstick » 2019-03-27 05:42pm

I think if Mendoza said "hey, I've been having health problems so I went to a doctor and this is what the doctor recommended, that I occasionally eat fish or other animal origin food" people would not have been so very angry. That would have been honest. Instead, she lied, continuing to claim she was a raw vegan. Of course, then she wouldn't be a raw vegan anymore and might have lost some of her audience - oh, no! But at least she'd be able to claim honesty so when she went on to her next whatever occupation she'd at least have that.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by ray245 » 2019-03-27 05:55pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-03-27 05:42pm
I think if Mendoza said "hey, I've been having health problems so I went to a doctor and this is what the doctor recommended, that I occasionally eat fish or other animal origin food" people would not have been so very angry. That would have been honest. Instead, she lied, continuing to claim she was a raw vegan. Of course, then she wouldn't be a raw vegan anymore and might have lost some of her audience - oh, no! But at least she'd be able to claim honesty so when she went on to her next whatever occupation she'd at least have that.
The problem is some of the people are more annoyed with her eating the fish than being dishonest.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Jub » 2019-03-27 06:21pm

ray245 wrote:
2019-03-27 05:55pm
The problem is some of the people are more annoyed with her eating the fish than being dishonest.
It's almost like when you cultivate a community of nutjobs, and that's what raw vegans are, some of them will prove to be diehards... This is an entirely predictable thing that she should have seen coming.

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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-03-28 06:36am

Capitalistic idiocy. Idiots fighting other idiots to make profit for their masters.

People forgot about the fact balanced diets include proteins, people believe in whatever new fad capitalists throw out to make a quick buck (veganism for the well-off! Carnivorism for the well-off! Soylent (not green yet - lol), and mindless “consumers” rush to buy.

They deserve this if they live by the values of our sick system.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by B5B7 » 2019-03-28 07:25am

Well it is good that she wasn't so fanatic as to continue to engage in a vegan diet when her health was at risk. However, she engaged in deception by not admitting it, and she also perpetuated a dangerous belief by continuing to push "pure" veganism to her followers (an excessive number of people).
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by ray245 » 2019-03-28 07:51am

K. A. Pital wrote:
2019-03-28 06:36am
Capitalistic idiocy. Idiots fighting other idiots to make profit for their masters.

People forgot about the fact balanced diets include proteins, people believe in whatever new fad capitalists throw out to make a quick buck (veganism for the well-off! Carnivorism for the well-off! Soylent (not green yet - lol), and mindless “consumers” rush to buy.

They deserve this if they live by the values of our sick system.
It's not just about capitalism. People who are socialists can also buy into pure veganism about how it's less capitalistic and environmental friendly.

It's more of a urbanism issue, in which the easy availability of food makes it easy for people to treat food as a lifestyle choice rather than a matter of necessity.

The fact that people are willing to go to lengths to spread the value of their dietary choice even without getting paid or expecting to be paid, but make it entirely about morality is the far bigger problem than complaining about capitalism.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-03-28 08:06am

How does this invalidate the fact that people who fall prey to marketing are deserving the consequences for making their decisions beholden to marketing and not to the objective conditions? Person tries “trendy”, person ruins own health; gets mocked in the end by fad followers.

All of it is a consequence of the idiocy of the rich. Their own satisfaction is taking on more and more grotesque forms, fads and fashions the like.

So people aggressively react to someone not acting fully in accordance with the fad.

I bet that this is in no way related to the fact that under capitalism, self-expression is a function of your consumption: you can drink elite whiskies or elite wines (buy them!), you can be a fan of one or other football club (buy memorabilia!), you can be a vegan, carnivorist, or a goo eating techbro (buy bio, buy meat, buy soylent), and so on and so forth. Stupid. Dehumanizing.

I am not a vegan, or whatever, but even if I was, first and foremost I am a human. Other habits which I have do not define me; my humanity does.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by ray245 » 2019-03-28 08:16am

K. A. Pital wrote:
2019-03-28 08:06am
How does this invalidate the fact that people who fall prey to marketing are deserving the consequences for making their decisions beholden to marketing and not to the objective conditions? Person tries “trendy”, person ruins own health; gets mocked in the end by fad followers.

All of it is a consequence of the idiocy of the rich. Their own satisfaction is taking on more and more grotesque forms, fads and fashions the like.

So people aggressively react to someone not acting fully in accordance with the fad.


The issue why people are outraged isn't just because they were lied to, but how they make it into an issue about animal rights, and thus morality.

I bet that this is in no way related to the fact that under capitalism, self-expression is a function of your consumption: you can drink elite whiskies or elite wines (buy them!), you can be a fan of one or other football club (buy memorabilia!), you can be a vegan, carnivorist, or a goo eating techbro (buy bio, buy meat, buy soylent), and so on and so forth. Stupid. Dehumanizing.

I am not a vegan, or whatever, but even if I was, first and foremost I am a human. Other habits which I have do not define me; my humanity does.
I will argue this is more of a product of recent Internet culture and the increased importance of people's self-identity. The internet enables people to find like-minded individuals and mutually reinforce a particular worldview. For many people, their humanity is defined by their habits. People are encouraged to be fundamentalistic in their habits, preferences and etc.

That can happen to any society once they are tightly interconnected.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-03-28 08:22am

“People are encouraged to be fundamentalistic in their habits”, yes. But encouraged by what? ;)

When I have no material gain from a fad or fashion, I am likely to avoid tons of aggressive marketing that proves “people consuming X are righteous/superior/woke/more human”, because there is no point in it. But if I can profit from a subculture, I sure will make investments and try to make it a fundamentalist one to have a captive market.

Are people really tightly interconnected? Or is it actually loose, no-obligations connections, like the online ones, which foster this? I don’t think if I have 1k followers, it actually means 1k people who can help me or even 1k people who would like to have any personal relationship with me, be it acquaintances, friends or whatever.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by ray245 » 2019-03-28 09:30am

K. A. Pital wrote:
2019-03-28 08:22am
“People are encouraged to be fundamentalistic in their habits”, yes. But encouraged by what? ;)

When I have no material gain from a fad or fashion, I am likely to avoid tons of aggressive marketing that proves “people consuming X are righteous/superior/woke/more human”, because there is no point in it. But if I can profit from a subculture, I sure will make investments and try to make it a fundamentalist one to have a captive market.


But we get that anyway with religions and ideas? It's the same for people who believe in socialism? You believe your view is righteous and will defend it to death but the alternative is seen as immoral?
Are people really tightly interconnected? Or is it actually loose, no-obligations connections, like the online ones, which foster this? I don’t think if I have 1k followers, it actually means 1k people who can help me or even 1k people who would like to have any personal relationship with me, be it acquaintances, friends or whatever.
People are more likely to end up in echo-chambers which reinforce their viewpoints.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Zixinus » 2019-04-11 12:57pm

I would like to leave this here:



Capitalism isn't the problem, or rather, not the key problem. The key problem is how foods are designed and how. In most industrialized places, healthiness is seen as an aspirational ambition and turned into a premium that is attempted to be sold rather than a natural part of food culture.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Straha » 2019-04-11 01:59pm

Zixinus wrote:
2019-04-11 12:57pm

Capitalism isn't the problem, or rather, not the key problem. The key problem is how foods are designed and how. In most industrialized places, healthiness is seen as an aspirational ambition and turned into a premium that is attempted to be sold rather than a natural part of food culture.
"Capitalism isn't the problem. The problem is merely how systems of profit can be constructed through the commodification of ideals and the creation of artificial scarcity for corporate gain."

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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Zixinus » 2019-04-11 03:56pm

Straha wrote:
2019-04-11 01:59pm
Zixinus wrote:
2019-04-11 12:57pm

Capitalism isn't the problem, or rather, not the key problem. The key problem is how foods are designed and how. In most industrialized places, healthiness is seen as an aspirational ambition and turned into a premium that is attempted to be sold rather than a natural part of food culture.
"Capitalism isn't the problem. The problem is merely how systems of profit can be constructed through the commodification of ideals and the creation of artificial scarcity for corporate gain."

Buddy...
Watch the video. Japan is a capitalist country and can still has a food culture that does not consider healthiness as an extra service. Capitalism is just as willing to sell traditional foods that are (relatively) much more healthy. The reason they still exists and stay competitive is simply food culture and preference for traditional foods. You can find capitalist vending machines selling pre-bottled capitalists black teas.

The problem with capitalist lens is that everything stems from class warfare even when it isn't class warfare, and thus everything evil is always, always, always going to the capitalist's fault.

I am not saying that consumerism, globalization, the power of multinational corporations, the nature of processed foods aren't involved in creating the unhealthy food culture that is prevalent in the western world today. But simply saying "it's all capitalism's fault!" isn't a really useful answer when there is a capitalist country that does not have this problem.
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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Straha » 2019-04-11 06:53pm

But simply saying "it's all capitalism's fault!" isn't a really useful answer when there is a capitalist country that does not have this problem.
"Saying smoking causes cancer isn't really a useful answer when there are people who smoke who don't have this problem."

If you're going to say that this isn't capitalism's fault you either: A. need to win that this is an unintended part of a larger process that's beneficial (that is this may be bad but on the whole Capitalism Good, probably with a Capitalist Growth resolves these problems long-term claim) or B. you need to offer an alternative root cause for this problem besides commodification and profit incentive.

Given that you have already, quite succinctly, identified that commodification and profit incentive are the driving forces behind this I'm not sure how you can do either thing without blatantly contradicting yourself.

Now, if you want to say that there are other contributing factors that drive this and Capitalism operates as a medium for those factors in ways that shape how commodification works, that's both fair and not wrong. But there's no escaping the fact that capitalism should be shouldering a good chunk of the blame here.
"My annoyance is exacerbated by the fact that the suffering I am witnessing now cannot exist on its own, it has to fall into the hierarchy of a “lesser animal suffering.” In the made-for-TV reality of American culture, the only acceptable genocide is historical. It’s comforting—it’s over. Twenty million murdered humans deserve to be more than a reference point. I am annoyed that I don’t have more power in communicating what I’ve seen apart from stuttering: “It’s like the Holocaust” " - Susan Coe

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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Vendetta » 2019-04-18 08:11am

ray245 wrote:
2019-03-28 09:30am
K. A. Pital wrote:
2019-03-28 08:22am
“People are encouraged to be fundamentalistic in their habits”, yes. But encouraged by what? ;)

When I have no material gain from a fad or fashion, I am likely to avoid tons of aggressive marketing that proves “people consuming X are righteous/superior/woke/more human”, because there is no point in it. But if I can profit from a subculture, I sure will make investments and try to make it a fundamentalist one to have a captive market.


But we get that anyway with religions and ideas? It's the same for people who believe in socialism? You believe your view is righteous and will defend it to death but the alternative is seen as immoral?
It's not really a case of morality.

When you build your identity, or part of it, around things you consume, your identity and behaviours are subject to control by the people who produce and control that thing. The thing they advertise as aspirational become your aspiration, people who use products from their competitiors become your competitors. (I bet you know someone who has really strong opinions on what phone you should be using, because we all do).

And all of this, is, of course, highly beneficial to the capital entities that control and profit from those consumables. People who hold forth about why this phone or that is better in their normal social setting are free advertising, they'll voluntarily consume and reproduce the marketing position in much greater detail than a brief advert ever could and expose it to others.

And people who make video blogs about their vegan lifestyle act as advertising for the industry that produces vegan foods (which is a billion dollar industry).
The fact that people are willing to go to lengths to spread the value of their dietary choice even without getting paid or expecting to be paid, but make it entirely about morality is the far bigger problem than complaining about capitalism.
The fact that people are willing to go to these lengths over a mode of consumption is a feature of capitalism. It's something that has been deliberately built by capital.
I will argue this is more of a product of recent Internet culture and the increased importance of people's self-identity. The internet enables people to find like-minded individuals and mutually reinforce a particular worldview. For many people, their humanity is defined by their habits. People are encouraged to be fundamentalistic in their habits, preferences and etc.
Not really. The attempt to cultivate identity through consumption has been the central thrust of advertising at least for the twentieth century (Tobacco advertising and car advertising are particularly strong expressions of it).

The Internet just gives another infection vector and especially a way for the competitive elements of cultivated identity (console wars, phone wars, "more vegan than thou" youtube beef) to be expressed.

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Re: The furore over the fish-eating vegan influencer is a warning to us all

Post by Broomstick » 2019-04-18 09:12am

Vendetta wrote:
2019-04-18 08:11am
Not really. The attempt to cultivate identity through consumption has been the central thrust of advertising at least for the twentieth century (Tobacco advertising and car advertising are particularly strong expressions of it).
Oh, earlier than that - in the early to mid 19th Century abolitionists used to avoid sugar and there were even brands that they were "cruelty-free" and made without slave labor. You weren't a real abolitionist unless you voted with your dollars and your diet.
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