The Vegan Ideal works to cultivate a process by which theory, learning and skills based on the principle of non-exploitation are put into practice.

10,000 for Western Imperialism

Westerners may have physically left their old colonies in Africa and Asia, but they retained them not only as markets but as locales on the ideological map over which they continue to rule morally and intellectually. – Edward Said

On September 3, In Defense of Animals launched an online petition with the aim of gathering 10,000 signatures from people pledging to support a total boycott of the entire country of Korea and all its products until Korea's Animal Protection Law is amended to strengthen the ban on the consumption of dogs and cats. Currently the petition has over 9,000 signatures and is likely to surpass its goal by its seventh day.

In his book Yellow, Frank Wu recommends Asian Americans who are asked "Do Asians eat dogs?" to respond with the question, "What is the point of asking whether I eat dogs?" Building on Wu's recommendation, we might ask, "What is the point of campaigning against dog-eating in Korea?" I'm convinced the answer is that campaigns targeting dog-eating as a cultural practice, including I.D.A.'s anti-Korea campaign, are based on a subtext of Western supremacy, Orientalism and imperialism, as well as speciesism.

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'Pay More': The High Cost of Class Bias in Food Politics

As a poor person who has experienced food insecurity, I find many mainstream writings on food politics hard to accept as creditable. At times I find the professional middle class norms and assumptions agonizing to read. While sometimes writers make trivializing and token references to differences of class, race, sex and citizen status, these superficial acknowledgments are patronizing and tend to marginalize and perpetuate the ways the food system affects the lives of the poor and working class, people of color, women and im/migrants. The fact that these commentators ignore the experience of those of us most oppressed by our food system is too infrequently questioned.

A class-conscious look at the writings of best-selling author Michael Pollen can help illustrate the practical harms that class-biased food advocacy can have on poor and hungry people. Pollan's writings on food politics are rooted in his own privileged position as a professional upper-middle class White man. Much of Pollan's class and race bias is hidden under a voice that depicts his own privileged experience as normal and universal. He thus specifically writes for other class-privileged Whites and it is not much of a surprise that many of his affluent White readers don't question what is oftentimes their own experience as well. (Read more...)

Race, Species and Dehumanization

From the headlines of yesterday's Democracy Now! comes this report of a speciesist and racist "joke" dehumanizing President Obama:

GOP Candidate Jokes About Hunting President Obama

An Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidate is claiming he was only joking when he said he would buy a license to hunt President Obama. At a rally in Twin Falls on Tuesday, Rex Rammell was discussing hunting tags, when an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags." Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those." Rammell says he sees no reason to apologize, because he was joking.

Racist and speciesist New York Post cartoon depicts two cops with guns drawn and a dead chimpanzee with gun shot wounds. One cop is saying: This is not the first time violence against nonhuman animals was employed to communicate a threatening racist message against the president. In February of this year, immediately after a chimpanzee who was being kept as a pet was shot and killed by police, the New York Post published a cartoon depicting the killing with one of the cops saying, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," in direct reference to President Obama.

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The Mobilization Against Fatphobia

The fatphobic billboard reads: Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETAWhat do advocates concerned with obesity, feminists, and progressive vegans, vegetarians and nonhuman animal advocates have in common? These are all people who mobilized over the last week in solidarity with people targeted by a fatphobic billboard ostensibly designed to promote vegetarianism. (Read more...)

School Lunch and Univeral Access to Food

Not only does Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey oppose universal access to healthcare, he also explicitly opposed universal access to food and shelter. As he said last week in his anti-universal healthcare op-ed:

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges.

Yes, how can we say people should have universal access to healthcare and not also food and shelter? Millions of people in the U.S. are hungry or otherwise food insecure and/or homeless or living in substandard housing. So obviously people's needs are not "best provided" by "market exchanges." In fact, far from being "beneficial" the marketplace is inherently oppressive since by design it denies people equitable access to meeting their basic needs. (Read more...)

Questioning Lierre Keith's Transphobia

In reply to a comment I made about Lierre Keith's affiliation with anti-trans politics and opposition to pornography by, for, and of lesbians, "Anonymous" wrote:

Founders of organizations don’t always agree with the policies those organizations come to have.

Can you site anything written by Keith where she expresses views about Trans people?

Do you have any citations of Keith stating that she is opposed to lesbians taking part in consentual BDSM or pornography?

If any of this is true it would quite ironic. Keith was banned from an extended stay meditation retreat in the 1990s because she is a Lesbian.

This is a good question. Where are Keith's politics when it comes to trans people, or lesbians taking part in consensual BDSM or pornography? (Read more...)

PETA Celebrates Trans-Misogyny

Back in October I posted about PETA's transphobic "Fur is a Drag" campaign. Since 1992, this anti-transgender component has played a supporting role in PETA's larger campaign that presumably opposes the fur industry. That was, until now.

This Friday, PETA is relaunching the "Fur is a Drag" campaign in an all-out, star-studded celebration of trans-misogyny. According to MTV.co.uk blogger Dael P., "The London party will feature a parody of a fur runway show, cross-dressing models will be sporting fur clothing that will be accessorised with paint and animal traps."

Don't deceive yourself into thinking this is a harmless joke or witty play on words. In truth, this campaign is both hateful and malicious.

As Vanessa pointed out on The Colonic blog:

In this context, fur is a "drag"--meaning it is bad, and a bloodied cross-dresser is somehow supposed to be quirky or funny. This is all in advertisement for a fashion show where cross-dressers will cat walk fur coats with fake blood. The cat walk is just a cruel play on the walk of shame, cloaked by humor and couture no less. Look, it's a tranny! Everyone laugh.

Least we forget, it's worth recalling the high-rate of "trans-bashing" — that is, physical, sexual, and verbal violence targeting transgender people, especially those of us on the feminine spectrum.

A high proportion of trans female and trans feminine people are physically and sexually attacked each year, and many are killed. Additionally, verbal harassment and abuse is an everyday occurrence experienced by most trans people. And this doesn't even include the systemic and institutionalized violence of poverty, housing and employment discrimination, denial of health and medical care, and so on.

The "Fur is a Drag" campaign is part of this continuum of violence and oppression against tansgender people. It is a mistake to view the appropriation of the term "drag" as a cute or silly pun. The assumed "joke" is deeply transphobic, and is just as oppressive as any White supremacist, misogynist, or homophobic so-called "joke." (Of course, PETA does also use White supremacy, misogyny, and homophobia in its campaigns.) In this context, "Fur is a Drag" is akin to PETA having a campaign titled "Fur is Gay." Obviously, the latter campaign presents being gay as objectionable and, likewise, the existing campaign presents being trans as objectionable.

In its campaign, PETA uses "drag" as a weapon that specifically marks trans female/trans feminine people as acceptable targets of violence. In other words, the campaign is based on trans-misogyny. This is evident in PETA campaign materials which mark cross-dressers and other trans female/trans feminine people as "ridiculous" and "ugly." So the entire basis for the "Fur is a Drag" campaign is drawn from, and perpetuates, the belief that trans female/trans feminine people an inherently repulsive and inferior class of people, and therefore suitable for oppression.

With its party, PETA bridges the continuum of verbal and physical anti-trans violence by going from the derogatory use of the term "drag" to portraying cross-dressing models as valid targets of physical violence by covering them with blood-like red paint and traps created to main and kill.

Far from fostering any sort of compassion for either transgender people or nonhuman animals, PETA's campaign and party uses, as oppose to challenges, the exploitation of other animals as an excuse to revel in the oppression of transgender people.

The Intertwined Exploitation of Turkeys and Humans

Tomorrow, when family gather all across the United States at dinner tables with a roasted carcasses as the centerpiece it's not just the turkeys whose exploitation they'll be benefiting from. After all, these birds don't just fall out of the sky wrapped in plastic with their heads, feet, feathers, and guts removed – the latter, of course, being placed in a small bag and shoved back inside – it takes the labor of some of the most exploited humans in the U.S. to make all that happen.

Dietary Speciesism: Putting Oppression on the Menu

The exploitation of other animals for the human diet works to structure a human-supremacist society that is bolstered by dietary speciesism. Since other animals are exploited in large part by humans for diet, dietary speciesism plays a central role in promoting human supremacy in general. That is, as long as we're eating other animals we're benefiting materially and psychologically from their exploitation. As a result of these material and psychological gains we're less likely to challenge the system of human supremacy.

'Food for People, Not for Profit'

The slogan "Food for People, Not for Profit" sums up the philosophy behind a movement for food justice where the production of food is done ethically and its consumption is considered a collective right. In the late 1960s and 1970s, a number of vegetarian, natural, and whole foods cooperatives and collectives where founded on this principle. (Read more...)