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.

Real Vegan Options: Veganism and Social Justice

I believe real vegan options are those that model the vegan ideal of nonexploitation. In this way vegan options are intertwined with social justice. From its beginnings veganism has sought social justice, including an equitable use of the Earth's resources and materials.

I question the validity of promoting processed convenience foods and other consumer goods as increasing vegan options. I question it in part because I see it as the neoliberalization of the movement, but on a more basic level I see it as an invalid model for the vegan ideal. (Read more...)

How PETA Exploits Black Men

The juxtaposition of the lynching of Black men and the slaughter of a bull, from a PETA exhibit in 2005, offends many Black people and anti-racist activists who object to the juxtaposition as dehumanizing and representative of White supremacy. Many of those (mostly White) nonhuman animal advocates who defend the comparison counter that those who object to the exhibit are just being "speciesist."

Class Bias and Nonhuman Animal Advocacy

The following is from "A Discussion with Tom Regan" in Ahimsa Oct/Dec 1987; I think it illustrates the class bias inherent in well-resourced nonhuman animal advocacy:

Tom Regan: People think of activists as antagonists in confrontation, and so on. I think of activists in terms of people with a dollar bill in the wallet; that's the way I think of the real activists.

An activist is anyone who goes into the marketplace with a dollar in hand, who says "I'm going to buy this rather than that because it has something to do with the way that animals are treated."

This would mean that the more disposable income a person has the more potential that person has of being a "real activist." (Read more...)

Transphobia and PETA

In 1992, PETA launched the transphobic "Fur is a Drag" element of its fur campaign. This anti-trans element was added to the PETA campaign just months after it launched the "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" campaign.

In a way, these two elements both represent different sides of the same coin. While the "naked" component of the campaign relies on stereotypes of the White ideal of feminine beauty, the "drag" component relies of stereotypes of trans female/trans feminine people as inherently unattractive. Hence PETA's use of drag queens to mock Star Jones, Anna Wintour, and Joan Rivers for wearing fur. That is, the subtext of PETA campaign is to suggest that Jones, Wintour, and Rivers are ridiculous and ugly for wearing fur by connecting with viewers' transphobic belief that trans feminine expression is ridiculous and ugly.

The PETA webpage promoting activist participation in this element of its campaign combines an anti-trans caricature with a sexist, racist caricature in its title "Draggin' 'Ladies' Prove That There's Nothing Glamorous About Fur," which is a play on the anti-Asian-based epithet "dragon lady." The webpage reads:

Want to help educate people about the cruelty of the fur industry? Put on some pumps and show the world what a fashion faux pas fur really is! Whether you've got a flair for the flamboyant or you're just an up-for-anything activist, staging a "Fur Is a Drag" protest is a terrific way to show people just how ridiculous fur really looks. You can enter a contingent of cross-dressers in a local parade or stage a drag of a demonstration outside a fur retailer. We have everything that you'll need to make your event a raving success. You just need to supply a time, a location—and a few daring drag queens! And remember, a few hours in heels is nothing compared to what animals killed for fur go through, right, guys?

Clearly PETA believes that trans people are "ridiculous." While feminists have long been speaking out against sexism in PETA's use of naked women in its campaigns, the silence regarding its devaluing of trans female/trans feminine people is deafening. This might be related to the virulent transphobia by some feminists (e.g., Carol J. Adams and other Feminists for Animals Rights) who criticize PETA's traditional sexism.

Much like it uses transphobia, PETA started exploiting anti-homeless hate in 1998 by giving fur coats covered in red paint to homeless women. PETA believes that both trans people and homeless people are disgusting and that if people see crossdressers or homeless people wearing fur then they'll think fur is disgusting by association.

The Need to Address Classism at Conferences, Seminars, and Festivals

I know a lot of people get excited about conferences, seminars, and festivals organized around vegetarianism and/or nonhuman animal advocacy. I wish I could get as excited about these events, but I tend to be put off by the ever present class privilege that is built into the vast majority of them. (Read more...)

Nonhuman Animals and Colonialism

I watched Nature's Africa series over the last couple weeks. What interested me in the series was the promise of showing Africa through the eyes of the people who actually live there. In this way, the series consists of eight episodes with each episode covering a different geographical region of Africa through the personal stories of a couple different individuals in each region. While the first seven episodes focused exclusively on the stories of Africans, there was a sudden change up in the first part of the second half of episode eight.

Feminism Beyond Transphobia

I no longer feel that continued education about trans issues within women's communities would change their oppressive behaviors in any significant degree, unless they are actually willing to change. It is not the lack of knowledge or information that keeps oppression going; it is the lack of feminist compassion, conscience and principle that is. -Emi Koyama, "Whose Feminism is it Anyway? The Unspoken Racism of the Trans Inclusion Debate"

When it comes to asking, "What are we going to do about transphobia among feminist-vegetarians/ecofeminists?" Emi Koyama just about sums it up. These are people who currently dominate the feminist discourse on nonhuman animals; as authors, speakers (in some cases very well paid speakers), and academic they have a vested interest in continuing the status quo. (Read more...)

Challenging Feminist Transphobia

White ecofeminism and feminist-vegetarianism is heavily influenced by the reactionary and transphobic writings of some dominant radical culutral feminists. Most notably is Mary Daly and her book Gyn/Ecology, which is filled with transphobia, cissexism, and trans-misogyny directed at transsexual women. A major influence on, as well as of, Daly's transphobia was Janice Raymond, who wrote the transphobic book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Other transphobic influences on feminist-vegetarians/ecofeminists include Robin Morgan and Sheila Jeffreys. (Read more...)

Breeze Harper on Speciesism and Racism

Please listen to Breeze Harper's new podcast on the intersections of racism and speciesism. Breeze reads from "Speciesism: Why We Cannot Fully Eradicate it if We are Unmindful of its Contingency Upon Racism, Racialization, and Normalization of 'Whiteness,'" a chapter she wrote for a new anthology that will be out soon.

Breeze discusses how in the media, "White male youths who kill 'game' animals are heroes. Black male youths who kill a puppy or engage in dogfighting are the anti-hero." She goes on to encourage us to think critically about why that is:

PETA Appropriates 'Vegan' for White Supremacy

Far from promoting the principles of veganism, PETA over and over again promotes oppression and exploitation of human and nonhuman animals. In the past week PETA has appropriated the term "vegan" in support of anti-immigration violence.