Veganism and Anti-Oppression

Keeping in mind the centrality of exploitation to oppression, I think it is important to place the vegan ideal of non-exploitation firmly in the context of anti-oppression organizing.

In 1951, in response to the problem that veganism was thought generally as "matters of inference and personal predilection" the Vegan Society released a statement to "clarify the goal towards which the movement aspires." According to this statement, "The word veganism shall mean the doctrine that [humans] should live without exploiting animals." The statement continued, "veganism is not so much welfare as liberation, for the creatures and for the mind and heart of [humanity]; not so much an effort to make the present relationship bearable, as an uncompromising recognition that because it is in the main one of master and slave, it has to be abolished before something better and finer can be built."

The statement, titled "Veganism Defined," was signed by Leslie Cross, then Vice President of the Vegan Society and one of the original 25 founding members of the vegan movement. Cross and the others in the movement saw veganism as possessing "historical continuity with the movement that set free the human slaves." If we are going to be true to this "historical continuity" then the vegan movement needs to recognize the interlocking oppressions that humans still experience.

Viewing veganism as a broadly anti-oppression movement is not to redefine veganism as something new, but instead to "clarify the goal towards which the movement aspires." How can veganism possess historical continuity with the movement to free enslaved peoples and not, at the same time, be actively anti-racist and anti-colonialist? How can veganism come to an uncompromising recognition that the relationship between human and non-human animals is one of "master and slave" and not recognize that the relationship of Whites and people of color, of the North and the Global South, in which the former benefits and is privileged by the exploitation and oppression of the later, are not also ones of "master and slave"?

In order to be true to the very principles that the vegan ideal is based on we can't separate out human exploitation of other animals as one relationship of exploitation while ignoring all others forms of oppression.

Re: Veganism and Anti-Oppression

"In order to be true to the very principles that the vegan ideal is based on we can't separate out human exploitation of other animals as one relationship of exploitation while ignoring all others forms of oppression."

Right on point, Ida! Brilliant post!
Too bad that the modern "animal movement" doesn't seem to understand this very well.
I look forward to reading more of your work.

Peace,

Lucas