The long read: The oh-so-Instagrammable food movement has been thoroughly debunked but it shows no signs of going away. The real question is why we were so desperate to believe it
In the spring of 2014, Jordan Younger noticed that her hair was falling out in clumps. Not cool was her reaction. At the time, Younger, 23, believed herself to be eating the healthiest of all possible diets. She was a gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, grain-free, legume-free, plant-based raw vegan. As The Blonde Vegan, Younger was a wellness blogger in New York City, one of thousands on Instagram (where she had 70,000 followers) rallying under the hashtag #eatclean. Although she had no qualifications as a nutritionist, Younger had sold more than 40,000 copies of her own $25, five-day cleanse programme a formula for an all-raw, plant-based diet majoring on green juice.
But the clean diet that Younger was selling as the route to health was making its creator sick. Far from being super-healthy, she was suffering from a serious eating disorder: orthorexia, an obsession with consuming only foods that are pure and perfect. Youngers raw vegan diet had caused her periods to stop and given her skin an orange tinge from all the sweet potato and carrots she consumed (the only carbohydrates she permitted herself). Eventually, she sought psychological help, and began to slowly widen the repertoire of foods she would allow herself to eat, starting with fish. She recognised that the problem was not her veganism, per se, but the particularly rigid and restrictive diet regime she had imposed on herself.
As Younger slowly recovered from her eating disorder, she faced a new dilemma. What would people think, she agonised, if they knew the Blonde Vegan was eating fish? She levelled with her followers in a blogpost entitled Why Im Transitioning Away from Veganism. Within hours of announcing her new diet, Younger was receiving irate messages from vegans demanding money back from the cleanse programmes and T-shirts they had bought from her site (featuring slogans such as OH KALE YES).
She lost followers by the thousands and received a daily raft of angry messages, including death threats. Some responded to her confession that she was suffering from an eating disorder by accusing her of being a fat piece of lard who didnt have the discipline to be truly clean.
For as long as people have eaten food, there have been diets and quack cures. But previously, these existed, like conspiracy theories, on the fringes of food culture. Clean eating was different, because it established itself as a challenge to mainstream ways of eating, and its wild popularity over the past five years has enabled it to move far beyond the fringes. Powered by social media, it has been more absolutist in its claims and more popular in its reach than any previous school of modern nutrition advice.
At its simplest, clean eating is about ingesting nothing but whole or unprocessed foods (whatever is meant by these deeply ambiguous terms). Some versions of clean eating have been vegan, while others espouse various meats (preferably wild) and something mysteriously called bone broth (stock, to you and me). At first, clean eating sounded modest and even homespun: rather than counting calories, you would eat as many nutritious home-cooked substances as possible.
But it quickly became clear that clean eating was more than a diet; it was a belief system, which propagated the idea that the way most people eat is not simply fattening, but impure. Seemingly out of nowhere, a whole universe of coconut oil, dubious promises and spiralised courgettes has emerged. Back in the distant mists of 2009, James Duigan, owner of The Bodyism gym in London and sometime personal trainer to the model Elle MacPherson, published his first Clean and Lean book. As an early adopter of #eatclean, Duigan notes that he battled with his publisher to include ingredients like kale and quinoa, because no one had ever heard of them. Now quinoa is in every supermarket and kale has become as normal as lettuce. I long for the days when clean eating meant not getting too much down your front, the novelist Susie Boyt joked recently.
Mohamed El Bachiris spouse, Loubna, passed away in a suicide attack in Brussels last& year. He talks with Emma Beddington about his manifesto for peace and raising 3 boys on his own
O n 22 March 2016, Loubna Lafquiri left her house in Molenbeek, Brussels , dropped off her 3 young kids and took the city to neighbouring Schaerbeek, where the 34-year-old worked as a PE instructor. Her spouse, Mohamed, a city chauffeur, had the day of rest and remained at house. If he had actually heard from Loubna and discussing that there had actually been terrorist attacks at the airport and in the city, he was woken later on that early morning by a pal asking. Mohamed visited to his messaging service and saw that Loubna had actually been offline given that 9.10 am. He understood quickly, he states. At 9.11 am, Loubna and 15 other guests were eliminated when suicide bomber Khalid El Bakraoui detonated an explosive gadget as the train they were taking a trip on left Maelbeek city station .
The attacks, where 32 individuals passed away and hundreds were hurt, appeared like a harsh verification of whatever Brussels citizens had actually been informed over the previous 2 years: that the city Molenbeek in specific was a sanctuary for terrorists. It was the conclusion of a series of shocks, from the lethal attack on the Jewish museum in 2014 to the discovery that the Paris terrorists had actually prepared and arranged their atrocities here, 5 days of lockdown in December 2016 when the city authorities thought a lethal attack impended, and the white-knuckle manhunt for Salah Abdeslam , the sole survivor of the Paris terrorist cell, lastly caught in Molenbeek .
An end to abuse, a law against mansplaining, and reparations for two millennia of injustice as a new sci-fi art show imagines a female-led future, we ask comedians, writers, politicians and CEOs for their vision
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are threatening to nuke each other. The UK has had four terror attacks in four months. David Cameron called the EU referendum, lost, resigned, said: Dum de dum de dum, then retreated to his 25,000 sheepskin-insulated manshed at the bottom of his garden to eat artisanal cheese. The man who sold me my bicycle refused to put the basket on it because he thought it was a girls job.
We dont know what the world would look like if women ruled it, but somethings not working at the moment. While we cant say for certain that women would make a better fist of it, or behave any better, what we do know is that when women are in leadership positions, or involved in decision-making, societies work better. There is less violence and instability and more peace.
If women were in charge, I doubt that eight men would have the same wealth as the poorest 50% of the worlds population. Eight! Ive had more people on my trampoline at once. When a group of men whose combined wealth equals that of 3.6 billion people can comfortably frolic together on one trampoline, its time for a leadership change.
If women ruled the world, they would stop being fragile, they would stop being dependent, they would never be the victim, they would never be abused. I want women to be warriors. When women are free and happy, they will know how to rule the world.
Reproductive sexual difference remains the villain of the piece
Supremacy based on gender has never been an attractive idea and patriarchal dystopias are no longer in an imagined future, or long buried past, but part of our present. Patriarchy makes us equal in one way, though: men are as arrested in their development as women. Given the challenges of being in charge, youd think they would be more than happy to hand over the headache and see what difference having women in charge makes.
Tory women prime ministers make no difference, because a system that is fundamentally based on the principle of unequal power relationships cannot, by definition, make us equal. Promoting the F-word without challenging the C-word has never worked: it is not possible to achieve the aims of feminism within the capitalist system. Our feminist foremothers warned us of this. Where weve got to so far is largely based on a limited agenda of establishing so-called womens rights within stunted liberal democracies.
People take hope and even experience some freedom in successfully challenging the pantomime binaries of masculinity and femininity. But reproductive sexual difference remains the villain of the piece. If women are to rule the world and make a difference, we either need to overhaul the social and economic system of reproductive exploitation (on which the system was built), or take control of the re-engineering of human design that is already under way.
We should design a reparations scheme that reorganises parental and family responsibilities in such a way that men have the opportunity to pay women back for the last two millennia the incentive being the universally agreed cultural value that raising families brings joy. The first job of the woman in charge is to liberate the men.
Thered be less violence, wed get things done quicker and we would solve a lot of problems by chatting instead of bombing. We would think rationally. People think: Oh, women cant make decisions when its the time of the month and all that, but I think were very decisive. We dont waste any time and we would do things a lot cleaner and a lot quicker. There would be fewer people dying if women were in charge. Its a fact: men kill more people than women.
Im not a fan of biological determinism, even when its working in womens favour so Im not sure I subscribe to the idea that women are innately caring and collegiate and men thrusting and ambitious. Ive lost track of the number of times Ive watched mothers coo over their daughters cuddling baby dolls, praise them for it, then declare that caring skills are instinctive for girls.
Historically, what weve seen is that when women achieve power in a mans world, they often out-men the men. Margaret Thatcher was famous for rarely promoting other women. She got off on being the only woman in the room and didnt want any competition. Nothing is more depressing than a successful woman who wants to score points for being the only one among the boys reinforcing, rather than challenging, their views of other women.
So if you really wanted to see whether there is a difference in the way women would rule the world, you would have to have either all-female rulers or a critical mass. But, ultimately, Im resistant to the idea of lumping us all together on the basis of gender: what about race, class, sexual orientation? Even men I like are fond of saying women this or women that as if we are all one amorphous mass. Im instinctively resistant to binaries. Hooray for ambiguity, nuance and complexity.
Having women in power makes a real difference. As the number of woman MPs has increased in the Commons, weve seen major steps forward in tackling gender discrimination. Women leaders in business make a difference too: helping firms embrace modern ideas like flexible working and job sharing.
Green politics has a history of woman leaders, from the inspirational Petra Kelly in Germany, to Vandata Shiva. Im proud to be part of a movement thats had women at the top table. Of course, having female leaders isnt an end in itself. Its part of a broad movement that sees women taking their rightful place as equals at every level in society.
It is often the unseen women, the executives, who have an opportunity to mobilise and encourage other women. Four inspirations from my own career: Clare Hollingworth, the woman who got the scoop of the century about the outbreak of the second world war. I met her when I was deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph, and she assumed I was the editors secretary, which amused me. She was a woman of her time, a pioneer rather than a reformer. Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times reporter, was sisterly as well as brave. Genevieve Cooper was deputy editor of the Evening Standard when I joined. I was a 24-year-old single mother and my male boss asked me how I could guarantee that a baby would not interfere with my work. I was so fearful that, when my small son was in hospital, I commuted between his ward and work, inventing excuses to leave the office rather than admit that I had a seriously ill child. Genevieve rescued me. At the Guardian, the late Georgina Henry showed that you could have vision and authority without losing your humanity. She was a top-notch female boss.
Oppression will not cease to exist simply because a woman is in charge
June Eric-Udorie, editor of intersectional feminism anthology to be published by Virago UK and Penguin US in 2018
If you run in feminist circles, youre bound to have heard someone declare: Wouldnt the world just be better if more women were in charge? What runs through my mind when I hear this is: Which women? Are we talking about black women, disabled women, trans women? Are we thinking about the women who lie on the margins and the intersections of the feminist movement, or do we just expect them to continue to have little to no power?
The inevitable reality is that the women most likely to have power in a female-run world will be white, middle class, cis, able-bodied and heterosexual. Power structures and other forms of oppression will not cease to exist simply because a woman is in charge. History will remind us of the ways in which white women have exploited and benefited from the oppression of their non-white female counterparts. Taking a closer look at so called feminist victories such as the birth of the contraceptive pill or the suffrage movement will reveal pandemic racism, classism, and other forms of subjugation and oppression.
We need to do away with romanticising matriarchal power and dominance and instead question the ways we can change the problematic and dangerous power structures that operate within society today.
In the peace movement, women are not interested in power over others
Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The peace movement is the place to find powerful women. But theyre not interested in power over others. Instead, they are empowering, inspiring by example, breaking down barriers to thinking, and taking action. Theyre uncompromising, but in a good way. My role models are Pat Arrowsmith, organiser of the first Aldermaston March, who was imprisoned many times for anti-nuclear actions; and Helen John, one of the Greenham Women and an activist at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire. The earth shakes when such women move into action!
The long read: They pick up the dead and wounded from burning buildings, terrorist attacks and gun battles. And they get paid 1 a day
The impact of the explosion sent Muhammad Safdar flying backwards. He looked up from where he had landed and saw that the windows of his parked ambulance had shattered. As he tried to pick himself back up, fellow volunteer drivers working for the Edhi ambulance service gathered around him; it looked as if Safdar was bleeding. But he had not suffered any external injuries. Human flesh got stuck to me, he recalls now, as we sit in the ambulance control centre in downtown Karachi. My friends were checking me for injuries, but it was pieces of other people. I was trembling hard and I couldnt hear my own voice when I spoke. It sounded juddering. I could only hear whistles.
It was 5 February 2010 and Safdar had already dealt with the fallout of one explosion that day: an hour before, a motorbike laden with explosives had slammed into a bus carrying Shia Muslims to a religious procession. Safdar had raced to the scene to load the dead and injured into his ambulance and take them to the nearby Jinnah hospital. With more than people 30 injured and 12 dead, the emergency room was in a state of chaos, filled with crying and screaming as doctors struggled to cope. He was still inside the hospital when the second bomb exploded just outside the entrance.
Safdar did not realise until later that he had suffered head injuries. At the time, he followed his first instinct, which was to get up and continue to help. A further 13 people were dead, with scores more injured. Everything was a mess, there was blood everywhere, he remembers.
The hospital entrance was badly damaged and there were fears of a third bomb. Ambulance drivers took those with the worst wounds to other nearby hospitals for treatment. Three ambulances were destroyed in the explosion, so they worked with what they had.
Across the crowds of casualties, Safdar kept his eyes on his boss, Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of the service, who was sitting inside one of his own ambulances. As the head of a huge charitable organisation offering services to the poor, Edhi made a point of remaining at the frontline of rescue work. He had been collecting the dead and injured alongside his staff. Safdar ran over to him. I came to pick him up in case of a third blast, but he said, I am not going. Wherever I am, there isnt a blast, so I am not moving. Safdar continued to haul bodies to ambulances parked outside. Amid the dirt and blood, he spotted something suspicious: a very clean-looking motorbike in the car park with a TV set strapped to the back. Safdar ran back to Edhi to tell him what he had seen. Edhi alerted police and stayed put as experts defused what turned out to be a third bomb.
In 13 years as an Edhi ambulance driver, Safdar has lost count of the rescue jobs he has done. He has entered burning buildings, dived into water after shipwrecks, retrieved survivors after terror attacks and industrial accidents, and navigated running gun battles.
Sporting red T-shirts emblazoned with bold white letters reading EDHI, these workers are a familiar sight at Pakistans all-too-common disaster scenes. Here in Karachi, a megalopolis of around 20 million people, there is no state ambulance service.
Karachi has suffered through decades of violence. Ethnic tensions have been simmering since the 1950s, ramping up as conflict and natural disasters elsewhere in Pakistan pushed more and more people into the city. For years, gang war raged in the slum of Lyari, and as terrorism increased in Pakistan in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks and the declaration of the war on terror,Karachi became a key militant operating ground. Since 2014, a crackdown led by the army has brought a semblance of calm, but violence still simmers below the surface.
Safdar, in his rudimentary ambulance, has been at the frontline of the shifting conflicts consuming his city, placing himself at huge personal risk for very little money.
Safdar first stumbled into the Edhi Foundations main office in 2003, shouting that his brother had waited too long for an ambulance. Safdar was around 22 years old (it is common in Pakistan for people to be unsure of their exact birth date), and his brother Adil was roughly 20. The ambulance driver on duty, Muhammad Liaqat, remembers, Our reaction was not to reply in any aggressive way. He has a very good heart, but he is hot-headed.
Adil had contracted polio as an infant, and the disease still endemic in Pakistan left him disabled. He needed a series of painful leg operations. With no car and limited funds, the family relied on the Edhi ambulances.
Despite Safdars anger, he was impressed by the operation. I saw other people waiting at the hospital for hours for transportation, he recalls. Edhi Sahib [a term of respect] alone was trying to help. Safdar had dreamed of joining the army, but needed to stay at home because of Adils illness. So, he got a driving licence and joined the ambulance service. Now he creates trouble for us every day, says Liaqat.
On his first day,Safdar went with another driver to collect one of the unclaimed bodies frequently found on the streets of Karachi. He couldnt look. The other driver slapped him in the face. What do you think this is? he said. Its a human being. What are you? A human being. Why are you behaving like this? Safdar picked up the corpse.
It takes time to get used to this work, he says. A lot of people leave after a week or so as they cant take it. They have fear in them.
Safdar is a thin man with a meticulously stylish haircut, equally quick to laugh as to fly into a rage. His boss, Anwar Kazmi, ironically introduces him to newcomers as our most polite driver. Safdar constantly chews a betel nut derivative, which has a stimulant effect a common habit among drivers in Pakistan. He is outspoken and talks a million miles a minute, his rapid hand movements expressing a range of emotions. He refuses to enter a government hospital where the boss was once rude to him. But he cannot stand to see suffering, sometimes getting in trouble for using his siren for non-emergency call-outs, and stopping to help if he spots anyone injured or lost on the road.
His usual base is the Edhi ambulance services main control centre in Kharadar in Karachis bustling old town. The office is open to the street, with a kiosk at the front for donations.
In a city where media companies and hospitals have armed guards, this accessibility is unusual. Inside, drivers sit and chat in between shifts, the overhead fan whirring and causing the dim electric light to flicker over their faces. Their standard work shifts are 18, 24 or 36 hours. At night, some nap on their stretchers. High up on a wall, stuck to peeling paintwork, are photographs of eight drivers killed in service. The bosses sit in this room too, behind two large desks. Kazmi, the general manager and spokesman, is always stationed at the right-hand desk, two phones and a mobile in front of him.