The ethics in other cultures predates veganism by centuries , Benjamin Zephaniah spoke about Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri, a blind Syrian philosopher and poet who spoke against the use of animals, animal products and honey, before 1057 CE. His poem is the earliest record of ethical veganism, by any name (none back then). The word ‘al-maarrist’ was coined by me in 2014, this short BBC radio essay gives an overview of what survived of Abul ‘Ala Al-Ma’arri’s poems. Logical conclusion: he would oppose any mistreatment of human or animal. What they keep saying veganism should be, right, forgetting its roots.
In Eurocentric history, only in 1912 was a plant-based diet suggested as the proper vegetarian diet by the editor of the Journal of the Vegetarian Society in Manchester after a debate between readers – they deemed the reasons for milk and egg consumption unsatisfactory. The focus changed to Henry Salt’s emphasis on animal rights later. The word ‘vegan’ was coined by Dorothy (Morgan-)Watson in the 1940s. Her husband Donald Watson founded the first Vegan Society with Elsie Shrigley in London, in 1944. I wonder what social class they were and why Salt was reportedly ignored until Gandhi visited the Vegan Soc and he paid attention to Salt’s views. I’m writing from memory, wasted so many years in the movement, I hope it was of some use. GANDHI IS TRASH!
Gandhi could also not be plant-based in spite of his pretentions. I have none and I follow a strict plant-based diet in spite of (? – that’s what others say) multiple food allergies, but one who cannot comply to the same because of health, or income, or who dumpster-dives (freegans), is vegan imo. There are freegans who are strict vegans, like a Pole, for instance, who looks for freshly dumped egg and dairy products for his friends or family who were going to buy these products anyway. Bear in mind that the latter products are priced low with the aid of government subsidies everywhere and although they are perishables, energy-wasting methods are used to make their distribution easy (and their waste just as). At times, for money laundering and extravagant weddings.
With our diversity and differing circumstances in mind…
I defined ‘veganism’ as the willingness to do the least harm possible because in a few words, it encompasses all the above as well as other forms of oppression. It’s been maybe 10 years or less. [I was wrong, it seems. I now distance myself from the vegan movement and any admin responsibility is a real chore.]
Speciesism is the arbitrary discrimination against, abuse and murder of other species; while it is comparable to any other arbitrary discrimination, abuse and murder, it is important to prioritise respect for oppressed groups consistently. [I’ve lost hope]
Compassion is not a requirement for morality. Since I have none, I favour respect, that and logic does not change with emotional states (towards the calf/towards the cat). If one wishes to be part of an ethical movement, one has accepted taking part of rational discussion. Those who oppress humans and persist to do so, denying or enjoying the harm they cause, or refusing to see it as harm, while calling themselves ‘vegan’
– harm the movement. I experience discrimination as a direct result of that in my communities, I call myself vegan and I may not get to explain that I do not mean white supremacist or privileged. I shouldn’t have to. There are other fine two-syllable words like ‘plant-based’ to denote herbivore; the term ‘anti-speciesist’ can be used in all languages. are common. It would be dishonest for an animal-rightist to pretend that it harms the movement for others to discuss ignored forms of oppression, or to explain how harmful inter-human oppression is. I’m oppressed and if I’m less so, it frees up my time and spoons to do something for them, it’s good for animals too. That’s simple maths. Erasing my reality and experience means wanting a white supremacist or privileged vegan movement (Remember that veganism didn’t come from white supremacy (nor did my own veganism) but factory farming and fur farming did, so obviously a lot more activism needs to happen in some regions, maybe white people need to shut up and do that)
If we advocate to give animals the same respect as we give humans, then encouraging the indifference to, absence of or dilution of equal rights, or of respect, among human does a dis-service to animal advocacy. [edit who cares, in the entire vegan movement?]
many individual vegans who are outspoken against many forms of oppression. and more
Veganism, as it ought to be, exist in, within, alongside Afrofuturism? Will it always be linked to anti-Black Gandhi? Some of those whose voices should matter may not be in a position to be seen or heard. Why do we see only privileged desi vegans peddling misinformation? Where are the indigenous (Adivasi), Dalit-Bahujan when there are 12%-15% veg in India?