Sexism and domestic violence glorification

My reponse article published on Women24, March 2012 (with their editing). Note that PETA is also racist and ableist but I focused on their sexism here, however their cultural insensitivity is not accidental.

Advertisers usually have certain ethical guidelines, but not for PeTA, as they keep creating controversial ads that get shared virally online. They sometimes use the V-word but their only relationship with vegan organisations is they give them a bad image.

Jessica from the PeTA advert discussed, synopsis in end quote.

T.O.F.U puts it all too mildly. I’d say if PeTA is the perverted sociopath that gives my town a bad name, then Jodi Allemeier (whose article this responds to) is a strange neighbour who enjoys their sick jokes. Being vegan does not automatically cure one from other prejudices based on arbitrary differences; similarly being a feminist often doesn’t challenge other prejudices, and doesn’t erase all the sexist ones.

The advert (synopsis below) starts with Jessica limping on a cold day after, one would guess, being attacked – she looks bruised and seems to have lost her clothes and some of her jacket fastenings (Anyone with a painful neck would close their jacket around it for warmth, she’s holding it with her hand). Domestic violence is hinted at, in jest, and the 32-second clip ends with the implication that her head went through the wall during sex and the intended lack of clarity should raise concerns. A simple web search indicates that anti-violence advocates, feminists, and vegans alike, as well as vegan magazines and non-vegan mainstream harshly criticised PeTA again.

Audience reactions that I observed ranged from disbelief that this is in fact a real advert from an organisation, to disgust mixed with surprise/shock/anger, and profound disgust. At the very least, disapproval was characteristic of every reaction when I questioned a small group of ‘sex-positives’, tantric adepts, BDSM practitioners who had in common the lack of heteronormative prejudice and knowing what PeTA is, although not being familiar with their campaigns. Lili Radloff’s personal twitter reaction, while I’m not condoning it, was not atypical – people who equate PeTA with veganism may well now hate vegans. Prominent voices for animal rights seemed not only worried about this reaction to vegans or their cause as a result of the controversy, but were concerned about the anti-women sentiment itself.

The ad does not refer to consensual BDSM. No one argued that it makes a modern reference to Gorean cults (the good slave-girlfriend with a severely-injured neck goes to buy food; did any advert supporter argue that she is wearing is all that she owns?) but most, and I assumed well over 70%, see the link with abusive relationships, and it certainly makes reference to violence or the criminally abusive parts of some BDSM scenes (whatever those are called). To correct Jodi: sex sells but violence-with-“sex” sells particularly well – ask the mainstream porn industry of which these characters are a by-product. Sex is not something that gets done to a woman (or women – if we consider other BWVAKTBOOM videos where all the women are serious casualties and the men are not injured in any way), which Jodi should know for quoting Les Mitchell on oppression and discourse.

There is Women24’s flavour of mainstream ‘feminism’, Radloff’s falls within the 66% if not the 60% of this poll, and within the 34% lies Jodi’s version – Jessica may well love that Popeye pounds her head into a wall when he ‘knocks the bottom out of her’ (credit to Austin J. Austin for the Popeye phallic-muscle analogy). While it is, Jodi argues, a valid personal view, I doubt it should be aired without stressing on consent and psychological clearances, not when it helps perpetuate myths that easily affect not only her, but other women. Not only women but everyone is affected by the harmful myths we let circulate, men are too.

Furthermore, I asked for reactions of tantric adepts with no historical background in tantra or a related culture, although some were acquainted with Buddhism. In other words, they had a different bias than I, yet they echoed my view that it promotes an anti-tantric sentiment. A woman of colour and a white American male felt it was apt to call it racist for appropriating the word. What is suggested is the very anti-thesis of tantra which in fact, does not require penetrative sex. The mis-use in “tantric pornstar” distorts the traditional meaning to an extent that it erases and replaces it with another. Austin found the use of ‘tantric’ “disrespectful of a culture, ignorant, and focused on one superficial aspect of mainstream media i.e. that tantra is merely something that makes [men able to engage in penetrative sexual activity with women for long periods of time, which is a sexist construct of male sexual prowess]”.

Like rape, this ad isn’t about sex. Jodi’s comment “Why is consentual BDSM offensive? Some are offended by gay sex, should all ads showing happy gay couples also be banned?” went unchallenged and I’ll end by saying that I find her analogy offensive, I don’t have to be gay to find that politics of substitution insults my intelligence and hurts people. I support feminism as I support struggles against sexism or any prejudice. There is a pressing need for not only feminism but social and environmental justice, for all. We – men, women and intersex – are a part of this ‘all’.

Synopsis of the ad: “The thirty-two second commercial begins with a head shot of a thin, light-skinned woman with arm-length wavy brown hair and bangs. She is wearing a blue and white plastic neck brace, holding a dark green coat together with one hand. She is almost limping along a sidewalk, towards the camera, with a blank look on her face. A voiceover goes through the commercial**. After four seconds, she winces. After a side-facing close-up shot, the camera pans out to watch Jessica (the character) walking to the left of the frame. She is also wearing black and white sneakers and does not appear to be wearing pants. She carries a plastic bag in her left hand, containing vegetables. She climbs a set of outdoor stairs slowly, her face and movement express pain as she holds onto the railing with her right hand. A lower shot from behind follows, where her pink-and-orange-polka-dotted underpants are the focus of the frame, lit up by the sun which comes in through her legs. For less than a second, there is a flashback to a shot of Jessica with both hands up against a red interior (bedroom) wall, looking over her left shoulder – facial expression suggesting intense penetrative sex with someone behind her. The frame becomes Jessica indoors, having returned from the store (and the hospital?). The walls are blue, yellow and red; the place is furnished and has a sari curtain, picture frames, a chess set, a lamp, etc.

Jessica removes the coat to reveal a light-pink patterned bra. The frame changes to her view: a guy is shown applying white spackle/caulk paste to a (skull-sized) hole in the red wall, that was ostensibly made during the sex act and that caused Jessica’s neck injury. He remarks that she is back. The frame shifts back to Jessica standing in the bedroom doorway, leaning against the right side. Her underwear is inexplicably pulled in between her buttocks on the left side, revealing her most of left buttock. Celery and red peppers are visible in the bag, and there is a yellow elastic bundling the celery (it is printed, and might indicate that it is organic). The light-skinned boyfriend is thin, with short dark hair, and is wearing striped grey and black boxer briefs and eyeglasses. He asks if she is feeling better and she tosses the bag to him abruptly. He catches it and looks down into it. The commercial ends with Jessica looking past the camera at the boyfriend, with a slight smirk on her face.”

**”This is Jessica,” the narrator, Kevin Nealon, says. “She suffers from ‘BWVAKTBOOM,’ ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,’ a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star. For Jessica, it was too late. Go to bwvaktboom.com and learn how to go vegan safely”

I adapted the version Austin kindly wrote for access purpose, original version here

Bees – under a different lens

Bee portraits on flickr

In his first book, Rattling the Cage, [lawyer Steven] Wise completely dismissed the idea that insects might reason. I told him I knew of much evidence that honeybees and other insects reason. He requested references. The evidence I supplied included the following: When a honeybee colony requires a new hive site, honeybee scouts search for a cavity of suitable location, dryness, and size. Each scout evaluates potential sites and reports back, dancing about the site that she most recommends. A honeybee scout may advertise one site over a period of days, but she repeatedly inspects her choice. She also examines sites proposed by others. If a sister’s find proves more desirable than her own, the honeybee stops advocating her original choice and starts dancing in favor of the superior site. In other words, she’s capable of changing her mind and her “vote.” Eventually colony members reach a consensus.

More evidence: Researchers at Princeton University showed some captive honeybees food placed on a boat in the middle of a lake. When the honeybees were released to return to their nearby hive, they communicated the food’s location to their sisters. No bees set out to the food. Then the researchers moved the food to the lake’s far shore. Again they showed the location to captive honeybees. Again the bees flew back to their hive and told their sisters where to find the food. Guess what? This time many other bees promptly set out, flying over the lake to the food. Honeybees have a mental map of their environment. A water location, in the middle of a lake, didn’t make sense. But the new location–on land–was plausible. Honeybees assess the information they receive and believe or disbelieve depending on its plausibility. To his “amazement and horror,” Wise found such evidence compelling. He now credits honeybees with the ability to reason. […]

The ability to reason has survival value for insects just as it does for humans. […]” — Joan Dunayer (Animal Equality)

Language liberation

Liberate your language by Vegina is a great post which focuses on oppressive language use and speciesist ideology. It ties in with the ableist language issues I blogged about last week. By liberating communication, we liberate thinking and the way behaviour plays out, in my view.

[…] it is impossible to discuss speciesist language without also discussing racist and sexist language, as they are all interlinked by a prevailing structure of inequality that operates within most institutions, belief systems, governments, and cultures globally.

Vegina

If you missed my last guest blog on Viva La Vegan, here it is! 

————

Through slang terms, idioms, insults, and standardized grammatical constructs, language reflects current social inequalities. It is packed with the vestiges of a culture’s history of domination, exploitation, and discrimination. In this way, language not only reflects inequality but also has the potential to oppress. In using problematic language, we reinscribe abuses and inequalities. However, by simply not using such language, we can free our own words of exploitation, forcing others to confront these issues when they hear us speak.

In this post I will focus on how language oppresses (and how we can liberate that language) as it applies to nonhuman animals and speciesist ideology. Importantly though, as I will describe below, it is impossible to discuss speciesist language without also discussing racist and sexist language, as they are all interlinked by a prevailing…

View original post 2,823 more words

269 tattoo campaigner says humans don’t need rights

I got invited to an event by a friend on Facebook, and cringed at the term ‘disable’ used as follows:

We are not interested in popularist Kony-style campaigns – this event is about committing yourself for life to actions that disable the animal holocaust.

It was a worldwide tattoo event “in solidarity” with an activist who got branded with hot iron. I tried wading through the long description (which began with biblical quotes) and didn’t see a link 5 long paragraphs down to the 269life site. I thought I’d click on one of seemingly many FB friends’ profiles at some less busy point in my life to learn more. I found nothing at all browsing a few ‘269’ profile photos for captions or comments. The intent to find more info about the event or the movement before I get into any potential debate over ableist language is not because the background is relevant, all vegans are more or less familiar with speciesist language, but because people tend to detract from criticism instead of taking it constructively.

There are many suitable and inoffensive words one could use such as ‘end’ or ‘dismantle’ the animal holocaust, it is all the more strange to use ‘disable’ as holocaust automatically makes one think of the 200,000-250,000 disabled victims of the Holocaust. The movement is trying to get people to make the link between the Holocaust and the massacre of animals on a larger scale. Many Jews prefer the term Shoah because ‘holocaust’ comes from the Greek word holókauston – an animal sacrifice offered to a god in which the whole animal (olos) is completely burnt (kaustos). The term was, in English, for massacres where many lives are lost. Whether or not the 269 campaign wishes to oppress the disabled, disability also affects non-humans. In the industrial complex of their massacre, they’re probably the first to be killed, to forego the expense of dealing with an injured animal whose life has no value, whether farm animal or race horse, or pet. To ‘disable’ in the animal exploiting industry very much means to ‘end’ or to’destroy’. Our speciesist culture constructed our language – so why refuse to change it?

Not a likely sight. In industries, the pig would be dead as soon as it finds itself diseased or unable to stand in a crate or on a farm. Image source: Barbara McClure.

It’s a very simple procedure to edit Facebook events, I gave them options on their event page (which has been deleted). Vegans surely want animal exploitation to end not ‘be redefined’. As anyone, I’m making assumptions on what they ideally mean. Here are synonyms from freedictionary.com which has a longer list but these sum it up:

alter, change, modify – cause to change; make different…
lay up – disable or confine, as with an illness…
nobble – disable by drugging; “nobble the race horses”
pinion – cut the wings off (of birds)

restrain, confine , […]

I used the interwebs which is ‘free’ and straight-forward, I don’t have another dictionary and even 2nd language English speakers, like me, often use the online dictionaries out of convenience. I left two of the above decriptions’ full versions so you’d see how it’s also clearly speciesist to use the oppressive term, in case they wish to pinion or nobble the animal massacre. Likewise, it is ableist to mean ‘destroy the capacities’ or whatever they mean because ableism is ignored by most, and ableism hurts.

I’m the only one I’m seeing thus far criticising ableist language that I’ve come across in the last week, maybe it’s to do with the percentage of disabled people and allies in the movement. Maybe you put them off with all your ableist language and inability to listen to other perspectives when criticised, Movement. If we want to afford animals the same respect we afford humans, how can we refuse to respect humans and perpetuate oppression?

On the campaign itself: Firstly I would never go google/YT something about someone’s tattoo. Even if a tattoo cost near to nothing, to donate to/wards a calf sanctuary or if the intent is to promote the 269 movement’s words, to collectively buy stickers/buttons from their webshop (scratch that idea and please read comments for the latest – they are proudly and deliberately misanthropist) could’ve been an option.

901536_494729150575266_1332591593_o

Update after trying to bring up word-usage with the organiser/s and getting insulted today, 10 days later, I realised that the event isn’t over, it’s rolling on to December then to January. Instead of discussing this or dismissing what I’m saying respectfully (NB no one replied to my older post or edited the event description in 10 days), Sasha-Vegan Cannibal (AKA Sasha Boojor) first had a laugh and engaged only with a Skye Hollywood in the thread, mostly speaking about me in 3rd person:

“rolling on the floor atm … this is too much!!! fucking animals are been raped and butchered alive and shes complaining about some shit like that!!! just get lost pls
i dare her to go on a human anti rape event and post some stupid shit like that! i dare her! the nerve on her! unreal!”

I wouldn’t ever think that ‘fucking’ is a suitable adjectives for tortured animals, unless the person saying it has Tourette’s maybe… He then finally addressed me (I don’t know about what exactly):

“nope none for self involved speciesist scum such as your self […] saw old on the brink of death mothers which can hardly stand or even hold thyre heads up to look at me as i was passing by… so ye i could give 2 shits about this stupid shit you preaching”

His only responses (now deleted but you’ll find plenty of similar examples on their page at every hint of critical thinking) of ridicule followed by violent (verbal) opposition is something all vegans are familiar with in 2012, we’ve all watched Earthlings or have at least heard of Schopenhauer’s 3 stages of truth-processing and most vegan advocates have experienced this first-hand on trying to confront someone on their speciesist lifestyle or simply when being confronted, ridiculed or attacked because someone feels threatened by one’s mere vegan existence.

To someone on their event asking questions because she was in two minds and had restrictions about wearing visible ink at her job, Ashley Vegan-YogaGeek added something about avoiding overthinking: ‘Don’t think, just do.’ (which is probably the full Nike slogan too!), so I have to wonder, what is this, a cult?

Answer: Very possibly! I doubt most even read this (although linked in the very same thread of our discussion) because Ashley just said to Sasha “pls End this convo. It’s bringing bad energy […] Enough low frequency chat, let’s raise the earths vibration right now.”

Sadly, events like 269life’s are at the forefront of the ‘movement’.

November 1st is….

the first day of the month through which I’ll continue a series on the blog against all oppressive ‘isms’. I hope it’ll be a great World Vegan Day for everyone. Be all the vegan you can be, or go as vegan as possible. You could tell someone it’s vegan day, use it as a pretext to share vegan stuff, read vegan stuff, or  consider going vegan this vegan month.

This video, since not many have seen the entry where I posted it before, is suitable for all ages.

I don’t have a printer but there are resources online either way (that said I’m not sure I want to receive free pamphlets from an org in the US that is disconnected from our realities but print something off a blog which inspires you, or a quote from Al Ma’arri or Pythagoras alongside a definition of ‘vegan’), or one can do a simple handmade B&W pamphlet once in a while (make copies perhaps). Offer a pamphlet to someone on the bus, in the supermarket, a pamphlet in your bag can give you superpowers if you are shy or social-phobic. There are circumstances where it’s acceptable/ fine to speak to a stranger, folks would start convos with me often in front of the tofu section of the supermarket or if they looked into my basket, it’s easy for me to ask someone if they’re vegan or new to veganism when they want tofu advice. One could also leave pamphlets in one’s library with permission. One is free to leave a free bookmark to the next person/s who’d borrow a book one has returned (I will try this when I have a library I can access again and I mean in a disabled access sort of way).

Any other ideas? Have you tried any of the above and wish to share your experiences or any advice with us?

Should vegans procreate? – unknown author

This (original article republished here) needs to be shared but got reported as spam in a vegan forum. I shared it without any issues, and weeks later, today I noticed the post missing and I can’t post the link at all, seeing warnings about it being blocked by Facebook. I’m republishing it to be able to share and because it doesn’t seem to come up in searches online. I’ve been discussing the topic on and offline for about 5 years or ever since I interacted with other vegans. It seems they, childfree or not, of various generations, had not read this or heard of such views before, even if some of them held similar views. This speaks volumes on the societal bias that exists against the questioning of procreation. I think Al Ma’arri was only translated or at least published online last year, though this selection of poems is translated year 2000 CE. An ethical vegan p’haps decades before 1057 CE, blind Syrian poet Al Ma’arri, expressed himself on the cruelty of human procreation (anti-natalism, basically), from a personal POV. He was also for social justice. 2017 edit: For whatever reason he still gets erased by vegans. I hate how Marcus, a stranger to me, keeps linking to my blog and now I feel like I need to respond to the new context. So, I’ll add that Casey Taft erases Al Ma’arri, Cathars and a whole history as well as the concept itself. A-N has been popularised in academia by a racist, sexist, zionist piece of trash. I would add other isms but then proof won’t be in available publications. This BV debate hasn’t even gone there but it seems to about white anti-natalism (Malthusian, hipster, white childfreedom) is a problem to white veganism. My take is: both should be frozen in liquid nitrogen and smashed, or rot ASAP along with their proponents (2-in-1 linked).

CN: wrong use of ‘colonise’, single-issue vegan focus.

Still, the following is compulsory reflexion if you’re a settler or live on unceded territories.

Disclaimer: I don’t endorse the Vegan Society UK, it does troubling endorsements of long-term oppressive NGOs in Southern Africa. The article, not I, linked to VSocUK.

The article (Feb 4, 1998 on the Internet Archive): Should Vegans Procreate?

It sparked the start of a long running debate through the letters column in “The Vegan.”

I believe that the most neglected issue in the animal rights cause is that of population growth, and I propose to put forward what my husband and I feel to be the most important reasons why a vegan, as a representative of the most mindful and unselfish movement dedicated to creating a kinder and fairer world, should not give birth, or be responsible for the birth of a child. 

First, and foremost, no-one would dare deny that this planet is groaning under the weight of humans. The world’s urban population alone has tripled since 1950. The environmental costs of hazardous industrial technologies resulting from this huge population are mounting and there are fears that the damage may be irreversible. By the end of the century, with a population of six billion, half the world will be living in urban areas. All this means social troubles such as higher crime rates, ill health, frustration, and a lack of dignity and personal freedom which is entirely due to overcrowding – not to mention increasing unemployment and the monstrous march of concrete across precious open spaces. In the first three months of last year alone, 43,900 new homes were built. Some on the dwellings of wild animals such as badgers and foxes, some on land which could be producing crops, some on beauty spots, some simply where wild flowers have colonized a bomb-site (hiding yet another example of human insanity).

All of us will, inevitably, see a piece of land we knew go from green to grey. I remember a place where once I listened to skylarks and ate wild blackberries. Now it is fenced off, ugly and sterile. Is that what we want to see happening everywhere? Any casual glance at old photographs of familiar places will show the horrific changes caused directly, and only by, the increase in population – making wildlife poorer and the developers richer. Why is that sleepy sepia village nestling down a hedge-lined lane among huge oak trees now a massive noisy town full of roads, factories and tower blocks? Once land has been built on it is almost impossible for the ground to be fertile again for growing cereals, vegetables etc. So where do all you parents and future parents think you and your children’s food will come from? From abroad? Remember, they too are increasing their population at a faster rate than you are, and they all have to live somewhere. It’s not always someone else’s fault.

No Guarantee
Secondly, you may use the argument that you will bring your children up to be vegans, so what does it matter, but can you honestly guarantee that any child raised as a vegan will become or remain a vegan adult? Of course, I agree that teaching a child the correct way to relate to other living creatures is essential, but one can argue the morality of imposing our own thoughts onto another’s personality. I certainly deplore the indoctrination of religion and other damaging influences such as racism and sexism, but one does not own a child, and whatever control we have over its actions cannot be permanent.
_______________________________________
A lot of people would re-home a
dog with more care than
they plan the future of a baby
_______________________________________

The pressures on a child to explore a different way of living as it grows older will be enormous; mixing as it has to with adults and peers who are at best unsympathetic. A vegan child could well be subjected to ridicule and isolation; its parents having thrown it into a mental battlefield at a time when fast food chains beckon with appealing advertising, bright colours, gifts and an atmosphere of cheerful ‘normality’. Is it fair to inflict all this on a being just because you want a baby?

Anyway, why should a vegan parent assume that his or her ethical doctrine will be continued by their children? The vast majority of vegans were brought up to wear leather and eat meat and dairy products. Will a lot of vegan children be as quick to reject our vegan lifestyle as we were to reject that of our parents?

If bringing up a child to be vegan is your only hope of gaining a convert, it’s a very expensive way of doing so. Those fifty odd thousands of pounds could, I feel, be put to better use in either campaigning, or put into practical help for animals such as supporting or running shelters and sanctuaries. In a nutshell, why create need when so much already exists?

Furthermore, a lot of people would rehome a dog with more care than they plan the future of a baby. Humans of all ages need space, clean air, safety and a decent education – to say nothing of an environment which is both emotionally and financially secure. As parents, can any of you promise all or even any of these things during the childhood of your offspring?

To be even more purist, is it really possible to raise a child as a true vegan? Medical complications must be considered, such as vaccinations and hospital treatment. When alternative medicine cannot allay a certain complaint, no-one can honestly disagree that less ethical assistance must be sought if the life or health of the child is at risk.

A basic right?
Many will of course argue that it is the basic urge of a human being, like other creatures, to proliferate. A vegan who is vehemently against the breeding of all domestic animals may fiercely defend his or her personal right, as they see it, to multiply their own chromosomes. But believing you have a right doesn’t make it ethically right. The farmer believes he has the right to manipulate other beings for profit; others believe it is their right to exploit living beings for food, clothing, science, amusement etc. Is it not the duty of a civilized, enlightened person to examine all aspects of their nature and ask themselves whether such so-called ‘rights’ are simply self-serving? A child does not ‘need’ to be born. It is the need of its parents which is gratified.
_______________________________________
A child does not ‘need’ to be
born. It is the need of its
parents which is gratified
_______________________________________

Our greater priority must surely be to the welfare of the Earth. We chose not to walk with the crowd when we first refused the easy, familiar and more socially acceptable path and became vegan. Procreation, the most fundamental impulse, must also be considered an indulgence of the ego.

Space for compassion
Do I want the human race to die out? Sometimes a lot of us do, if only in a momentary state of desperation when faced with the mindless cruelty perpetrated by humans upon each other and other animals. But no, I feel humans do in fact have an awful lot of good to contribute if they so choose. Among all animals, humans have the greatest capacity for compassion, the highest and possibly most human ethic. But as any wise gardener knows, a tray crammed with as many seeds as possible does not grow the best plants. Yet far fewer seeds, each receiving an adequate amount of room, water, heat and light produce healthier and stronger seedlings. So it is with human beings. In the right conditions, when every child is given the attention it deserves, only then will it reach its full potential. The huge population and subsequent overcrowding denies practically all children (except those of the very wealthy) the optimum conditions for growing a powerful sense of moral spirituality. Given the social conditions a lot of youngsters grow up in, it’s not surprising so few of them can spare little pity for their fellows let alone animals. It needs a kinder climate in which to cultivate the higher feelings of pity and compassion and not the cut-and-thrust way of life in the overcrowded concrete jungle. When children by their very numbers, feel they have little sense of personal worth, they are unlikely to extend value to other remote creatures that they seldom see except as portions wrapped in cellophane on supermarket shelves.

The problem has gone beyond the old argument that a family of two children is only replacing the parents. Too many people are too greedy or ignorant to restrict their family size. If we want to see a reduction in overcrowding, then it is we who must take responsibility for positive action. Adoption is possible for those whose genuine love of children outweighs biological links with them. I and my husband have proved it can and does work.
_______________________________________
If you as a vegan choose
to give birth to a child and it
later turns out to be a meat
eater, it renders you own
personal commitment
completely invalid
_______________________________________

It must be said that if you, as a vegan, choose to give birth to a child and it later turns out to be a meat eater, it renders your own personal commitment completely invalid.

Finally, what has this world that is so far from being ideal to offer the child you say you love and yet launch into its cold and cruel embrace? The only fact a parent can guarantee his or her child is death. Happiness and fulfilment are rare commodities, and rarer still in the person who has had to recognize the world they were brought into for what it is. One day the vegan parent will have to destroy any vestige of innocence in their son or daughter by explaining the horrors of factory farming and vivisection. We love to see lambs playing in a field, to watch them frisk and delight in the weeks of tender youth. But it is a poignant scene as we contemplate their future, the transience of their joy.

Naturally we, as vegans, although we take great pleasure in the sight of gentle and beautiful farm animals, would far rather they did not exist at all. Vegans have enough love to desire their loved-ones not to feel the pains of this world. Surely they should love their own flesh and blood enough to give up the personal desire for a baby when they have come to realize what the effects of their causes are doing to the Earth?

Please visit The Vegan Society, U.K.

Injustice anywhere…

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality.

Veganism is in truth an affirmation that where love is, exploitation vanishes. It possesses historical continuity with the movement that set free the human slaves. […] veganism is itself a principle, from which certain practices logically flow. ~ Leslie Cross (Vice Pres, Vegan Society, 1951)

I don’t know anything about Leslie Cross or the context of the latter quote so it’s worth pointing out that Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks and many abolitionists were vegetarians. Angela Davis is vegan, Alice Walker agrees with the ethics (in a foreword to a book) but isn’t vegan.

The first vegan cookbook written about was No Animal Food by Rupert H. Wheldon in 1910. In 1912 a plant-based diet was suggested as the proper vegetarian diet by the editor of the Journal of the Vegetarian Society in Manchester after a debate between readers – s/he deemed the reasons for milk and egg consumption unsatisfactory. The focus changed to Henry Salt’s emphasis on animal rights later. The ethics predates it by centuries or decades, but as I’m pointing out documentation is vital in writing history. I only recently realised that “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. Veganism seeks to exclude anything that entails the exploitation and use of animals as far as possible, thus implies no use of meat, milk, fish, eggs, honey, leather, silk, wool, zoos, circuses, horse-riding, etc.

I follow a strict vegan diet in spite of multiple food allergies but one who cannot comply to the same for health reasons, or income, or who dumpster-dives (freegans),  is vegan. There are freegans who are strict vegans and one for instance who looks for freshly dumped egg and dairy products for his friends or relatives who were going to buy these products anyway. Do bear in mind that the latter products are priced low with the aid of government subsidies and although they are perishables, energy-wasting methods are used to make their distribution easy (and their waste just as). With our diversity and differing circumstances in mind…

I define ‘veganism’ as the willingness to do the least harm possible on any group/page I’ve created because in a few words, it encompasses all the above as well as this quote from (Sarah Woodcock’s) Vegans Unite Against ALL Oppression: “We can’t effectively battle speciesism with other forms of oppression. Tolerating any form of oppression means tolerating every form of oppression.” I’m not linking to vegan abolitionist pages anymore. Gary Francione is very far from being representative of all vegans and his brand is problematic from the use of the word ‘abolitionist’. That a Francionite runs the above page doesn’t eclipse the privilege and isms he doesn’t accept criticism about.

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 and also not to engage in oppression olympics.

Compassion is not a requirement for morality. Since I have none, I favour logic, logic does not change with emotional states. If one wishes to be part of an ethical movement, one has accepted being 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.

It would be dishonest, to say the least, 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 like very simple maths. Erasing my reality and experience means wanting a white supremacist or privileged vegan movement.

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.

There are many individual vegans and activists who are outspoken against many forms of oppression, and this movement has some more great quotes from prominent historical figures you may recognise that promoted connectionism. Veganism, as it ought to be, is not limited to the above. Some of those whose voices should matter may not be in a position to be seen or heard. It took me a long time to start blogging and it’s not only time-consuming, I now have to organise internet access for it.

How we wish we had answers to questions that generations after generations ask :
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