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.

For Global Justice Against Global Warming

In Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning, George Monbiot makes the case for how the United Kingdom can cut its greenhouse gases by 90 percent. Heat has been published in several editions suggesting that the strategy for cutting greenhouse gases can be applied to other capitalist countries in the Global North. In the book, Monbiot seeks to prove that the capitalist North can hold onto its privilege while "joining what must become the world's most powerful political movement."

After giving a speech on climate change, Monbiot was asked, "When you get your 80 per cent cut, what will this country look like?" To which, another member of the audience answered, "A very poor third-world country." So in the book, Monbiot sets out to show that a 90 percent cut doesn't mean we have to "ditch the comforts ... which I – like all middle-class people in the rich world – now take for granted" (i.e., privileges of racism, classism, colonialism and empire). Read more...

Is it Safe to Come Out?

Chris from Deep Roots makes some critical comments about the Coming Out For Animals call for papers, including some discussion of my thoughts on "animal activists" promoting police violence more than being targeted by it. Chris suggests I might have misunderstood the context of the questions being asked in a call for papers. I also got an anonymous hate comment that more aggressively insists that the misunderstanding was intentional. Chris says that the context might have been that in terms of "activist groups" "animal activists" "bear the brunt" of police violence. (Read more...)

Alliance Building and Militarism

A popular slogan from the peace movement of the 1960s, "War is not healthy for children and other living things" sets a foundation for alliance and movement building.

In her essay, "The Color of Violence" in The Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
(South End Press, 2006), Haunani-Kay Trask makes the connections between racism, colonialism, and militarism and the effect these intersecting oppressions have on the health of Native Hawaiians. (Read more...)

Asking the Right Questions

A call for papers has been sent out by folks "looking to anthologize the voices of queers involved in animal liberation." I think it would be wonderful to see more interaction between queer theory and veganism. But some of the questions suggested as topics for this book really bothered me, specifically:

Why do queer activists in Uganda but animal activists in the USA bear the brunt of police suppression in their respective countries? Are they similarly subversive of "cultural" practices that turn out to be critical to the maintenance of state power?

(Read more...)

The Personal is Political

Veganism is a good example of how consciousness-raising about our everyday actions is important to challenging the structure of oppression and exploitation. Veganism takes everyday "personal" actions (e.g., eating, dressing, and recreating) and calls out the political dimensions of these actions. It reveals how eating, wearing, and otherwise using nonhuman animals is not a mere "personal" act, but a dimension of exploitation and human privilege. It makes a connection between the personal action and the political structure of our society. (Read more...)

Veganism and Creating a Shift in Power

Today, Frances Moore Lappé was interviewed on Democracy Now! about her new book Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity & Courage in a World Gone Mad. I recommend checking out the interview; a lot of the things that Lappé talks about are relevant to veganism.

Lappé discusses how the global food crisis is ideological and how this ideology has lead us to "accept a power-centralizing, power-concentrating economy" against our "food-sharing instinct." She also talks about models throughout the world where people are ending hunger, and the shift from things that make us dependent to the empowerment of ourselves and community. (Read more...)

Pet Ownership and Police Violence

On the LA Eastside blog, Browne Molyneux posted about the "Symbolic Gestures of Nothingness" made by a PETA volunteer who targets working class people of color in downtown LA's Fashion District for illegal animal sales. In her post, Molyneux makes two points: 1) targeting "illegal" pet sales doesn't challenge pet ownership; and 2) targeting people of color working on the street perpetuates racism and classism.

Recalling Missed Connections

About six years ago I co-organized a panel discussion on the connections between domestic violence, child abuse, and animal cruelty. The panel featured a professor of psychology distinguished for his work on the subject; an executive director of an ecofeminist and animal defense organization who founded a program addressing the issue being discussed; and a staff member of the area YWCA (where the discussion was held) who worked on domestic violence issues.

At the time I thought this panel discussion was "progressive" in addressing the interconnections of violence against women, children, and other animals. In hindsight, I realize the panel lacked a real commitment to anti-oppression, social change, or a true intersectional approach. There are many things that are problematic with the discussion's framework. (Read more...)

Animal Protection and White Supremacy

Maybe you've heard about Brigitte Bardot's anti-Muslims comments? People are debating whether the comments are racist, or sincerely based on animal protection. And there's some justified anger on the Vegans of Color blog.

I think the comments fall into what Edward Said calls "the Orienalist description of the Islamic world." In "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy" from Color of Violence (South End Press, 2005), Andrea Smith explains that, "The logic of Orientalism marks certain peoples or nations as inferior and as posing a constant threat to the well-being of empire," and, I would add, the nation-state. So the comments are definitely racist in that they up hold the Orientalist pillar of white supremacy described by Smith. (Read more...)

Vision of a Plant-Based Food System

Previously, I posted about the aims of the Movement for Compassionate Living:
  1. To spread the vegan message and promote simple living and self-reliance as a remedy against the exploitation of humans, animals and the Earth.
  2. To promote the use of trees and vegan-organic farming to meet the needs of society for food and natural resources.
  3. To promote a land-based society where as much of our food and resources as possible are produced locally.