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.
The Mad Men star on the sexual politics behind the years greatest TELEVISION program and its spooky parallels with the Trump age
We reside in a various time than we resided in a year back, states Elisabeth Moss . And I want we were sitting here discussing this dystopian imaginary world, and how pleased we are that were not because, since we have a female president. I want that were the discussion.
Instead, we are being in the library of a London hotel, and I am revealing the star who, previously, has actually been best understood for playing Peggy Olson , the secretary who smashed though the glass ceiling of the marketing market to end up being an extremely appreciated copywriter a meme that completely encapsulates the gigantic leap in reverse that half the population has actually suffered in the previous 12 months.
Under the caption 2016, the split-screen programs Peggy sashaying down the passage at McCann Erickson for the last time, tones on, cigarette in mouth, the embodiment of emancipated womanhood. Beside it, below 2017, it reveals Moss in her most current on-screen version, outfitted in an archaic-looking blood-red bathrobe and white, winged bonnet.
As Offred, the lead character in The Handmaids Tale, 34-year-old Moss has actually considerably abandoned her renowned Mad Men character of 7 years. And while there countless components adding to the febrile enjoyment about the brand-new series, the craze is, in big part, thanks to the political context where it is being taken in providing it a genuinely chilling level of prescience.
There are styles that we believed were going to matter, like genital mutilation, human trafficking, kid trafficking, increasing rates of infertility, international warming, states Moss, who is likewise a manufacturer on the program. Then, in my nation, things got really, really pertinent, much closer to house than we might have ever prepared for. She leans forward throughout the plump red couch we are sharing. Which is something that we do not take any delight from.