Veganism FAQ

I’ve done posts like this before, but as my views on veganism change, so do my answers. I represent just one viewpoint on veganism. I can’t see all sides or all my blind spots. I am hoping this format will make things easier to update as I’m sure I will change in the future. I’m also hoping that these answers will help both non-vegans and vegans alike understand where some vegans are coming from, to  maybe not feel as alone? I’ve been vegan a while and am still learning things myself.

How long have you been vegan?  Hark! The origin story! Since some time in 2015. I don’t have an exact date because I was vegetarian before then (from some time in 2010) and the transition was gradual. I just stopped buying milk and things with eggs for myself. I used up the products that had animal-derived ingredients in them and replaced them with vegan versions as I went along. The transition to vegan and cruelty free makeup was the hardest part for me. Not the food, honestly.

What do you eat every day?  To be honest, I hate cooking and I do not have time for it. I work full-time and have a lot on my plate, so anything that can make my life easier is what I choose. Time is my most valuable thing. Thus, I have a frozen dinner meal at least once a day. It’s usually an Amy’s, Gardein, or Sweet Earth, or Trader Joe’s vegan tikka masala (soooo good). For lunch, I do something light like vegan ramen, vegan chick’n nuggets, a bagel with vegan cream cheese, or some sort of vegan sandwich (PB&Js are vegan!). For dinner, anything goes. I might eat a whole jar of salsa with chips. I might make vegan grilled cheese and heat up tomato soup. It depends on how tired I am. You can see what kind of foods I recommend in my saved stories called “Vegan foods” on my Instagram.

Where do you eat out at?  Sometimes you are on the go and can’t make something at home. I get it. When that happens to me, some of my favorite big chain places and what I order at them are:

  • Olive garden, spaghetti. Hold the salad (they put cheese on it and the croutons are not vegan).  The breadsticks are vegan, though! See more info.
  • Taco Bell. I get the black bean crunch wrap with no cheese, no sour cream and add guac. It’s so good! See more info. 
  • Carl’s Jr. This one is more controversial for me. I do not like their sexualized ads and the fact their CEO clearly supported Trump. However, they have the best vegan burger hands down. I get the Beyond Famous Star with no cheese, no sauce, no mayo. I add ketchup.  My meat-eater friends say it’s better than the meat burger. Costs about $2 extra, though.
  • Red Robin’s in-house vegan burger in the lettuce wrap is really really good but it feels more like a breakfast wrap or salad. I do not like the impossible burger they offer. It’s really basic  and bland.
  • Pizza Hut. Thin crust veggie with no cheese. If you do the limited toppings then I pick tomatoes, onions, and green peppers. My friends have tried this and they couldn’t tell there wasn’t cheese on it.

Isn’t eating out bad for the environment? Doesn’t it support capitalism? Doesn’t this just help the chains make more money to kill more animals? If I’m going to eat out then I’m going to eat vegan food. I believe that my choices are an act of resistance. They are an expression of my ethics. Carol Adams, in her work The Sexual Politics of Meatstates that the very fact you do not eat meat is an act of feminism. Making an outward choice is a performance. It is praxis that goes against the norm and brings attention to an issue. It might not change the world or be the most I could do in that moment, but it is doing something.  It reminds me of religious choices as well — how outward displays and acts are signals to the world of your religious principles. Like a nun wearing a habit, a Sikh wearing a turban, or a Muslim refusing to eat pork (pig), they are outward embodiments of what group you belong to and how you understand the world.

The work of Vegan BatGirl is what I draw on most readily when talking about the government bailouts for animal ag. She’s actually been (from?) to my hometown and done her activism here. Because of her work and others, I have started to question the “you vote with your money” concept. My purchases do not affect supply and demand as much as I thought, because capitalism doesn’t work and the government will still prop up animal ag even though it is failing.

I think buying any food supports capitalism right now, however. Many vegans refuse to go to restaurants if they aren’t vegan restaurants. I get it. And I think supporting vegan-owned things is important. But they probably also shop at grocery stores at times that sell meat and eggs and dairy. Would they just not buy from that grocery store? Walmart sells vegan brands too. I think making veganism accessible to all is also an important step. Just because there is no ethical consumption under capitalism doesn’t excuse you from the choices you do make.

Have you ever accidentally slipped up and eaten animal-derived ingredients or purchased something with them?  Mistakes happen! That doesn’t mean you aren’t vegan. It means you made a mistake. One time I was at work and saw there was granola at the buffet for the breakfast gathering we were attending. After eating it, I realized it tasted too sweet and there was  probably honey in it! I was very sad and upset with myself, because others probably noticed me eating it who knew I was vegan. But I did finish it as not to waste it. Sometimes I buy something new and miss something in the ingredients list, only to double check when I get home because I’ve become paranoid of such things. I typically give it away if I haven’t opened it yet. As you are still learning how to navigate being vegan, you will slip up or not realize something. That’s OK! You’ll pick up what to check for and get a routine down.

It’s for this reason that I might suggest that if you’re just starting out, you might not announce it. So that, if you do make a mistake, you won’t feel as judged.

Why do vegans want their food to look and taste like meat? Um, does your meat actually look like meat? Who put the meat in to funny shapes in the first place? If you like meat so much then why do you cook it? Add seasoning to it? It really seems more like people want their meat to not look or taste like meat!

Do you eat honey? No. Honey bees aren’t native to where I live, actually, and I think we should stop farming them. They are struggling to thrive here anyways, and they are competition for native pollinators. 

You can learn more here too.  Beyond this, it is wrong to take something (honey) that isn’t yours and the way some farmers cultivate bees is by clipping the wings of the queen and crushing the drones to get the sperm (graphic video of practice here).

Is veganism cruelty free? Living on the planet isn’t cruelty free, first of all. Even walking on grass as the potential to hurt a plant or insect. It’s about being less cruel. It’s about doing the least amount of damage you can. Not the max.

But don’t plants feel pain?  Why do vegans care about one lifeform’s pain but not the other? This is the wrong question and framework. Plants may feel pain, but do they care about it? There is a difference between feeling something and understanding what that means. However, I also believe questions like this lead into “Peter Singer territory,” which is risky to enter into. You have to be careful about intention and show care. In the past I have brought up the fact that many humans with little to no brain activity on life support still react to stimuli but might not react based on want or need. Am I comparing them to plants, then? This could be seen as setting up a framework of those who are more “killable.” It should not be about what/who is killable and what/who is not, but about what/who is suffering from the choices we make. I recommend this video for more context and Sunaura Taylor’s work:

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Taylor’s book. 

The talk of “vegetative states” also makes me consider this question: “If meat-eaters* think they are being fair by eating indiscriminately, then why don’t they also eat humans?” Since they so clearly think that vegans are hypocritical for eating only one type of thing that “feels,” I think it is more hypocritical that they eat everything except one thing. That “thing” being humans. And pets, maybe.  A lot of the taboo of eating humans is actually very colonial/Western. Many indigenous cultures still do consume humans as part of traditional practices. I find this a more interesting way to point out their own biases and hypocrisies in food.

Instead of the “stranded on a desert island” scenario that is often referenced/brought up to put a vegan in a situation where they have to make a choice against veganism, I like to bring up what I call “the Donner Party scenario” and give my stance. I myself would not feel any qualms in eating a human if I had to to survive and there was nothing else to eat (notice I did not say kill a human). But that is not the scenario we are in. That is not what we are living. For those of us who do not have to choose meat (human or animal), why would we?

*here I mean a capitalist consumer type of meat-eater, not those practicing indigenous traditions

Are your pets vegan? No. I only have cats who are picky eaters. I would like to be able to buy them lab-grown meat though in the future, though!

Would you eat lab-grown meat? Maybe? Depends on if it tastes better than the plant-based meat. How affordable it was.

Do you use the word “Carnism” like some vegans do? There has been some pushback on accepting the word carnism, which was popularized by this book by Melanie Joy, I believe (?). The pushback, I believe, comes from POC communities and allies who do not want to pressure indigenous communities, etc. into a label that does not accurately represent those communities. I think Joy was the first to use the word in psychological terms (?), but I do not think she actually invented the word and I don’t think a word has to have a single definition in all contexts. Yet the focus does seem to attack her and her points at times, which undermines what she was trying to say.  But do I think that everyone who still eats meat is a carnist? I think that is where some pushback lies. However, I still find it a helpful word to describe certain situations. Is the dominate culture carnist? I think that to say so is glossing over things because it is supposedly the opposite of veganism at points, under certain definitions. And if I, a vegan, know I am vegan, I think that most non-vegans don’t realize they’re carnists. A lot until recently didn’t even know about veganism as an option. They might define themselves as non-vegans, but carnism is not likely a word they would own. They don’t delight in eating meat the way some others might or the way vegans delight in veganism. Food is just food to them and they have never been confronted with alternatives. However, I do think many in the dominate culture are so anti-vegan and pro-meat that carnists as a label does fit and they would not even mind it — they’d embrace it even. I think of Arby’s ads that say “We have the meat” or “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner.” These are so overt in suppressing vegs ideals that I think carnism works. Their stance is not in-between or neutral, just like veganism is viewed as not neutral. Many of these ads even mock vegans, creating an opposing stance to veganism, not just an uniformed one. So, yes, I believe that points of our culture like that are carnist. I believe people who are so anti-vegetable and pro-killing for meat are carnists. I am reminded of this quote from the article “An already alienated animality: Frankenstein as a Gothic narrative of carnivorism” by Jackson Petsche, which muddies the waters more because I so agree with it in parts (but is the word “carnivorism” fair when humans here are not carnivores in the biological sense of eating raw meat, but instead carnists for choosing to do so and having to cook it? This is an instance where the newer word might have fit better in the context) :

In rejecting the food ‘of man’, the monster rejects the system of carnivorism, and this refusal to eat animal flesh contributes to his alienation. Martin argues that, like capitalism, carnivorism constructs subjectivity: ‘carnivorism not only runs very deep into subjectivity formation, it runs so deep that it comes close to assuming the character of an absolute presupposition’. (30) By stating ‘[m]y food is not that of man’, the monster explicitly underscores his alienation from human social relations: he does not participate in what constitutes the normative model of the human subject–the eating of nonhuman animals. The monster would appear to recognise that his vegetarianism precludes him from attaining human subjectivity when he paradoxically asserts to Victor, ‘The picture I present to you is peaceful and human’ (170). Calarco, like Martin, recognises how carnivorism constructs subjectivity. Speaking of Derrida’s theoretical articulation of ‘carnophallogocentrism’, Calarco states that it highlights that ‘being a carnivore is at the very heart of becoming a full subject in […] society’. (31) The monster’s vegetarianism keeps him from ‘becoming a full subject’ in human society. However, for Victor’s creature this is intentional. In fact, he professes his vegetarianism to Victor during the moment in which he tells him of his desire to flee human society with a female companion constructed like himself. He states, ‘I will quit the neighbourhood of man’ (171). The food ‘of man’ is equated with ‘the neighbourhood of man’, and both are to be rejected.

What are your go-to vegan beauty items? Check out my Instagram story highlights for “Vegan Beauty” 

As a vegan, do you take medicine? Aren’t all medicines in the US tested on animals? Yes, I take medicine as necessary to help me survive and live a good life. I refer back to my Donner Party scenario. If it comes down to alleviating my suffering, I will take medicine.

How do you feel about plastic? I feel like plastic gets a bad rap. This may be a hot take I later regret, but to me, it has made food accessible in food desserts, including vegan food. It has improved nutrition and sanitation. I feel like cleaning up plastic is an easier feat than reversing deforestation caused by animal ag. I think we need to focus on limiting both, but that there is a bit too much hatred that goes into plastic and not enough on meat/animal ag. I’m still taking references to more sources if you have them. On the scale of suffering, though, I think animal ag is causing more for the world.

How do you feel about hunting? I hate trophy hunting. I disagree that it can help conservation efforts, because most conservation efforts are based in nationalistic, xenophobic, and eugenic principles of ecological purity (reminiscent of racial and ethnic purity, if you will). I believe in the right for a species to die out. I would like to see extinction decolonized. I also disagree that hunting is a means of population control, which is what I hear about in the U.S. a lot. Starving is a natural means of population control too for a species and dead bodies are part of every ecosystem, so I do not think humans are as important as they think they are in that area.

Trading one suffering for another is just you playing God. I think indigenous hunting practices, where the food is eaten and the bodies don’t just become a stuffed head on the wall, are much more ethical. I, too, would hunt if I had to. Or maybe I would just let someone do it for me and still partake. But I do not have to. It seems unethical to take a life I do not need. I am not asking indigenous populations to become vegan. I am asking most specifically for people to be vegan in their other choices.

See this link and this link for more context on my stance on extinction and invasive species.

Do you think everyone should go vegan? If possible, yes. As stated above, indigenous peoples still practice traditions that involve meat and I support that as means of life if there is no alternative. My focus is on those who have the means and ability to make better choices, but choose not to.

However, I do question “tradition” as an excuse from some as why they will not stop eating meat when they clearly can affordably and nutritionally (I certainly question it from people who live in the same area as me when I hear it). I question tradition for the sake of tradition, especially traditions such as child marriage, genital mutilation, bull fighting and other animal fighting, and the “traditional” family unit. So, yeah, food practices are not “off the table” for me (pun intended). I think if we can’t examine our traditions and make changes, then we are  harming ourselves and are trapped in an unexamined life. For a small example, it was a tradition in my childhood home to have meat for every dinner, despite my parents both having high cholesterol. Traditions can harm as well as give meaning.

Isn’t leather/aren’t animal products more sustainable? Aren’t vegan clothes just plastic? Not all of them are. This page has a lot of good info:

How do you feel about comparing animals to humans? This is the question of our time, I think. When I was younger, I would do so readily. As a woman who could become impregnated, I was never offended when women were compared to a cow to show the horrors of the dairy industry, how rape is referenced when talking about the artificial insemination of a farmed animal. However, comparison only goes so far. The communal focus is now on “intersection” — where two issues intersect rather than how they are similar. There is no one size fits all model, and if you risk insulting one party with a comparison, then it would work against your goal.

Are you a vegan who compares what happens to animals to the Holocaust? To Slavery? (CW, sensitive subjects of abuse and genocide). I used to when I was first starting out, and for that I am sorry. My comparison was not nuanced for sure. I no longer do so and see how it was wrong.  I could not see how it was working against my cause and against the groups I was referencing. To make matters worse, there’s a lot of conflicting signals within veganism about the human/animal comparison (re: the Taylor YouTube video above as well). There’s a whole Wikipedia page on the subject of comparing Animal Rights and the Holocaust, apparently.  But, like what I said above, comparison can only go so far and it is better to focus on the systems that affect all groups negatively, no matter how. Otherwise, it can turn into the oppression Olympics, where we are tallying who has it worse off. That distracts from being united in taking down the system that is oppressing. If forced to admit it, I also do not think using the Holocaust comparison against animal farming is affective because the comparison stops when we realize that the Jewish people were being exterminated and farm animals are actively bred (to be eaten). That sure as hell isn’t genocide. That is something else. This most common example when it is brought up in vegan arguments doesn’t even work logically for me. It seems to be used more for shock value.

The book Afro-dog complicated the waters for me on this subject as well. I still don’t know what to make of that book, but I liked it.

What is hard for vegans to see is that, while we do not take being compared to an animal as an insult because we lift all animals up, in some contexts it is still a way of Othering someone to be less-than-human. On the flip side, what some do not understand about vegan reasoning is that if the animal/human binary (hierarchy, rather?) could be dissolved, there would be no way to make someone “less-than-human” because there would just be “beings.”

But bringing all of that to the conversation can’t be surmised in a single comparison. It has to be unpacked over time.

Wasn’t Hitler vegetarian? Why do you want to be like him? I don’t care if he was or wasn’t. I could see why he would propagandize that he was, though, to make himself look like a compassionate, gentle leader. I’ve read arguments where he was trying to look/act like Gandhi, who was popular at the time? What is interesting, however, is that veganism is and isn’t tied to white nationalists depending on what is and isn’t being said. Compare these two articles from VICE:

Why So Many White Supremacists Are into Veganism

Got Milk? Neo-Nazi Trolls Sure as Hell Do

What’s also hilarious, on the other end of this conversation, is that Israel, with the largest “core Jewish population” is also touted for its veganism.  There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to Jewish Vegetarianism.* So…you tell me what you are implying by suggesting vegs are like Hitler. I sure as hell don’t know. If I stare long enough, both of these cases do seem to speak to the plant-based lifestyle as some sort of nationalistic ideal, though. I’m not sure what to make of it. I think it’s similar to the issue of conservation, where there’s a lot of racists and eco-fascist ideals there — where talking about invasive species feels like xenophobia, where conservation is a stand in for conservative ideals, where eco-purity comes at the cost of killing and ignoring indigenous needs and rights. For example:

The Fascist History of De-Extinction – Undark 

When Environmentalism Meets Xenophobia – The Nation

The Most Effective Conservation is Indigenous Land Management – Yes! Magazine 

Should Some Species Be Allowed to Die Out? – NYT

Book Review: An open-eyed view of conservation – Undark

*That said, I want to be clear that not all Jewish people are synonymous with Israelis nor support their political agendas. I recognize it might also be problematic, since we are talking about nationalism, to not address Israel’s own human rights abuses against Palestinians. For more context on criticizing the Israeli government and where I am coming from, I direct you to this recommended video (starts at recommended portion):

The pamphlet referenced in video:  

Do you support zoos and conservation efforts as a vegan? No and yes. See answers above. I think if we are talking about sanctuaries that is one thing, but the very concept of zoos is a colonial one. Humans used to be put in zoos, to be shows off like some collection of conquest. My belief is that the human/animal binary has a thin line between them and I’d like to take away all potential for suffering for when that line is crossed, like I reference above. I also believe that zoos falsely placate the real need for us to save the environment. My local zoo calls itself a “Living Museum,” which is the saddest thing I can think of, because museums are where you put artifacts that can no longer be a part of the world. That need to be protected from it, not part of it. I hate that line of thinking, that the world is too dangerous for them. The animals, therefore, are viewed as no longer of this time period. We no longer strive to protect them in the outside world, because why would we? They’re “safe” in the zoo.

Why are you vegan? Probably because I want to be able to like myself at the end of the day. IDK. I used to not be. Then I saw how the world could be different.



Book Review: Messy Eating: Conversations on Animals As Food

The most enlightening chapter for me was “The Tyranny of Consistency” by Naisargi Dave. I was unfamiliar with Dave’s work until this point and I quote from it below.

Donna Haraway’s name is mentioned in almost every chapter from the interviewees. She and veganism are the common, entwined thread. As far as I can tell, Haraway has always danced around — been noncommittal to — the veganism issue in a way I can’t quite understand (though, I guess I’m trying by reading this book). To me, a vegan, there’s something unsatisfactory in her past answers, when I so eagerly agree with her in every other way. In this particular area, it’s as if she lets others do some of the thinking for her so she can later pick and choose what to work with. This was also the vibe I got from the book Making Kin Not PopulationShe has others make some of her points for her to create a collaborative, well-rounded argument that is no longer hers. The only difference here is she is not a contributor in Messy Eating. 

Haraway has clearly struggled (read: “kept with the trouble”) by bringing animal issues/relationships to light and this book feels written created to fall in line with that framework/approach. Part of me wonders if this book was written created for her enjoyment — for her notice. I’d like to think so. Even I hope she reads from it and responds in some way (has she? I don’t know. I only dabble in this stuff). Maybe she’ll have different answers on veganism/farmed animals later on. Was this her scholarly intervention? Ha. It is, at the very least, part of her legacy. Maybe she has already changed her mind/speculative fabulations on the subject (look at me dropping sf bombs! Am I earning fangirl points???).

Messy Eating’s introduction mentions that this (?) interview is part of the motivation for the book, and states that her answers in said interview have a “desire for a world in which there is a place for agricultural animals.” This quote is probably what that referred to:

A bit defensively, Haraway carries the animal-rights argument to its logical extreme, claiming that it would make modern agricultural animals either “museum specimens” or extinct, both of which she finds unacceptable. Still, she is troubled by the killing of animals. “It’s impossible to work from the fantasy that animals are for human use. I’m not comfortable, and I don’t think we should be.”

Part of me, as a reader of that quote, is sad to think she can’t imagine futures without farmed animals. Another part of me is still sad even after reading Messy Eating because some of those interviewed were not imaginative enough to do so either. I still can’t put into words what the issue is, though there is a gist–a general hesitancy that I can see.

I’m still wondering, deep down, why farmed animals — many the result of selective breeding that make the animal unable to breed on their own without the aid of artificial insemination — should not end up extinct. If not the extinction option, then flourished without consent becomes the (current) alternative. And even then, if we think it is OK to selectively breed them to be this X way, why can’t we selectively breed them to be another way — one which lets them decide to reproduce and not depend upon us so much? I tend to put more faith in those species that have evolved with us in a symbiotic relationship on earth, but not entirely dependent upon us. I also do not think that Haraway still worries about this (extinction). If she is so willing to de-emphasize human exceptionalism, why would what humans created/engineered/bred need to be maintained over other species? In fact, I feel like “the Chthulucene” is all about letting humans die off if necessary/take a step back. Why wouldn’t she let that be the case for farmed animals?

This is probably what Haraway was getting at all along — wanting vegans to be more imaginative and purposeful in their thinking rather than just shouting blanket statements of “No more breeding farm animals!” And that’s what this book is, that purposeful thinking.

Here’s some quotes from the book that I wanted to archive here:

“All too often, what we do with that fact is to say that to oppose that kind of violence means to eat cows. It’s posited as a kind of solidarity with non-caste Hindus. But of course the Brahmin who decides, ‘I’m going to eat beef—or pork or whatever—” will simply not be subject to the same kind of violence as someone who eats meat by tradition. What this high caste person doesn’t understand is that people aren’t subject to violence because they eat beef: They are subject to violence because they are Muslims or Dalits. The cow was the mobilizer, it was the justification, but it was not the reason. So when a Brahmin decides that they’re going to start eating beef, no matter how much they try to be in solidarity with the Dalit or the Muslim, it’s not going to happen, because what they fail to recognize is they’re just playing into the circulation of symbols that is at the heart of the problem in the first place.

One comparative case is the right wing in the United States, which at times enacts violence against women who have abortions, or the doctors who perform them. We as feminists vehemently oppose that, yes. That does not mean, however, that we go out and deliberately have abortions…Of course we don’t go around having abortions or aborting other people’s fetuses just because we oppose a Christian right ideology. But the issue there, then, is that in understanding the animal as a symbol that is not subject to the same value as a human, you’re participating in and allowing your own ethics to be completely colonized by the use of symbols of an adoption of an ideology you oppose. That’s not a rejection of an ideology, it’s an adoption of an ideology, it’s speaking in those people’s terms, it’s using their morality to be the only framework in which you can possibly be a moral person. Your only option then is, do you eat beef or do you not eat beef? That’s not rejecting the use of the cow as a violent symbol; it’s appropriating it, and not appropriating it in a way that undoes the problem. It’s more of a wholesale adoption of an ideology than an appropriation, actually.” -Naisargi Dave, The Tyranny of Consistency

“Similarly, for Donna, the real issue is that you shouldn’t institute a discursive technology or nay other kind of technology that automatically, taxonomically makes certain forms of life killable but not muderable, simply by virtue of that designation. As she puts it, the issue is les ‘Thou shall not kill’ – because killing is, after all, unavoidable – than ‘Thou shalt not make killable’ by some kind of taxonomic or – to put a finer point on it, coming out of biopolitical thought – racial designation.” – Turning Toward and Away

“Veganism, to me, is about a kind of direct challenge to the property status of animals and the notion that they can be rendered as objects. It’s a kind of daily personal boycott, a rich practice of eschewing the understanding of animals as objects or servants from the beginning of their lives to their deaths. Within an industrial context, everything about their lives is geared toward serving human beings. Their bodies are manipulated in various different ways and mutilated in different ways in order to serve the purpose of being objects.” – Subjectivities and Intersections

“So contradiction is a problem politically, in terms of the imperative of consistency that forces anyone who tries to do anything differently to make a choice between nothing and everything: I either do it perfectly or I might as well just do nothing. That, of course, is a terrible way to operate, but it tends to be the way we approach ethical life. Except for all the invisible ways in which we’re never perfect moral beings, but we excuse them for various reasons, because they’re normative and thus naturalized.

…So long as you try to fix the ideology before the practice – you can say, ‘Well, first I have to convince myself that veganism is worth doing’ –it’s never going to happen because there’s no way to ideologically explain it, because everything is geared toward maintaining the norm. There will always be the one person pointing out the hypocrisy, the flaw in the logic. So if you wait, and wait, and wait to have it all figured out, then you’re not going to get there, and that’s not accidental, that’s by design, that’s how normativity reproduces itself.” – Naisargi Dave, The Tyranny of Consistency

“So often people critique vegans because there’s this stereotype that we think we’re being cruelty-free, or that it’s this ideal that can’t be reached. I think vegans need to take that back and say, ‘No, veganism is not about being cruelty-free or practicing ideal non-violence.’ It’s actually a way of saying that it’s really incredibly hard to actually figure out how to live in ethical relationships, whether you’re trying to do that across human difference or whether you are trying to make a space that’s accessible and open to other sorts of species; the challenges are really real—but veganism is saying that it’s absolutely essential that we try.” – Disability and Interdependence

“There is this kinship and affect happening in really interesting ways, but in larger context of grooming these dogs to hopefully be adopted into what is an implicitly white middle-class ‘forever home,’ with picket fences and all that. And this is because people have very set ideas about what makes a good home, that are very deeply shaped by class, politics, and the resources involved: whether you have a back yard or not, whether you own your home or not. Most shelters I know of – and this is also the shifting landscape of pitbull politics – won’t adopt out bully breed dogs to people who don’t either have a lease explicitly stating that they can have a bully breed dog, or own their own homes. And in a lot of urban areas that’s pretty much impossible.”  – Interspecies Intersectionalities

“While promoted as an ecologically responsible alternative, small-scale animal agriculture requires more resources than factory farming. Free-range production uses more land and emits more methane and nitrous oxide than do industrial methods. This is because farmed animals are allowed (somewhat) more space, and because these animals take longer to reach slaughter-weight, as they typically have not been genetically altered in such a way as to promote rapid weight gain. Given that small-scale animal agriculture accounts for only 1 percent of the meat produced in the United States, it is hardly a large-scale solution.

I would further argue that small-scale farming is coterminous with the settler colonial and racial capitalist systems that sustain the settler nation states of Canada and the United States…Specifically, colonists imported the institution of animal agriculture, farmed animals, legal statuses of property, and ontologies of Western human superiority that structured ways of being and living in their homelands.” – Coda: Toward an Analytic of Agricultural Power

On “invasive” species:

I’ve never heard this issue summed up so succinctly.

If you worry about:

– “invasive” species
– endangered species
– extinction
– feral cats
– the environment

This video is for you.

TBR: Veganism in an Oppressive World: A Vegans-of-Color Community Project by Julia Feliz Brueck

Through the voices of vegans of color, Veganism in an Oppressive World will revolutionize the way you see our movement. A must read for new vegans and seasoned nonhuman animal activists alike, this community-led effort provides in-depth, first-hand accounts and analyses of what is needed to broaden the scope of veganism beyond its current status as a fringe or “single-issue” movement while ensuring that justice for nonhumans remains its central focus.

This collection of academic essays, personal reflections and poetry critically examines the state of the mainstream nonhuman animal rights movement while imparting crucial perspectives on how to build a movement that is inclusive, consistent, and effective.


“Countless folks aren’t critical enough about the interconnectedness of oppression and how it impacts marginalized communities as well as other animals (i.e. sexism, racism, classism, etc., which are greatly amplified under capitalism). “Veganism in an Oppressive World” is a must read for anyone committed to doing serious work around the dismantling of speciesism and all other systems of oppression that are inherently at odds with life.”– Kevin Tillman, Vegan Hip Hop Movement

“The essays in Veganism in an Oppressive World highlight the challenges faced by vegans of color seeking justice for humans alongside our fellow animals. As a queer black trans vegan activist, I have witnessed racism, sexism, and other oppression in the animal rights movement, which is not only unacceptable in its own right, but also drives away potential allies for the animals. The voices in this book reflect wisdom and insights that…vegans simply do not possess. I recommend this book to all who wish to create a truly inclusive vegan world.” -Pax Ahimsa Gethen, photographer, writer, & activist

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TBR: Even Vegans Die: A Practical Guide to Caregiving, Acceptance, and Protecting Your Legacy of Compassion by Carol J. Adams, Patti Breitman, Virginia Messina, Michael Greger

Even Vegans Die empowers vegans and their loved ones to make the best decisions regarding their own health, their advocacy for animals, and their legacy. By addressing issues of disease shaming and body shaming, the authors present a manifesto for building a more compassionate, diverse, and effective vegan community. Even Vegans Die celebrates the benefits of a plant-based diet while acknowledging that even vegans can get sick. You will learn how to make the health care decisions that are right for you, how to ensure your efforts to help animals will not end after you die, and how to provide compassionate care for yourself and for others in the face of serious illness. The book offers practical, thoughtful, and sensitive advice on creating a will, mourning, and caregiving. Without shying away from the reality of death, Even Vegans Die offers a message that remains uplifting and hopeful for all animal advocates, and all those who care about them.

Even people who eat a healthy, plant-based diet, can get seriously ill. That s why this book is needed. Carol, Patti, and Ginny teach us to live wisely while we are still here, not only by eating well, but also by caring for ourselves and each other. I want to live well and, if necessary, I want to die well, too. If you do also, then start reading. From the foreword by Michael Greger, MD.

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TBR: Through a Vegan Studies Lens: Textual Ethics and Lived Activism edited by Laura Wright

Interest in the vegan studies field continues to grow as veganism has become increasingly visible via celebrity endorsements and universally acknowledged health benefits, and veganism and vegan characters are increasingly present in works of art and literature. Through a Vegan Studies Lens broadens the scope of vegan studies by engaging in the mainstream discourse found in a wide variety of contemporary works of literature, popular cultural representations, advertising, and news media.

Veganism is a practice that allows for environmentally responsible consumer choices that are viewed, particularly in the West, as oppositional to an economy that is largely dependent upon big agriculture. This groundbreaking collection exposes this disruption, critiques it, and offers a new roadmap for navigating and reimaging popular culture representations on veganism. These essays engage a wide variety of political, historical, and cultural issues, including contemporary political and social circumstances, emergent veganism in Eastern Europe, climate change, and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other topics.

Through a Vegan Studies Lens significantly furthers the conversation of what a vegan studies perspective can be and illustrates why it should be an integral part of cultural studies and critical theory. Vegan studies is inclusive, refusing to ignore the displacement, abuse, and mistreatment of nonhuman animals. It also looks to ignite conversations about cultural oppression.



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TBR: The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery by Marjorie Spiegel


Spiegel, executive director of the Institute for the Development of Earth Awareness, has revised her 1989 book to present an in-depth exploration of the similarities between the violence humans have wrought against other humans and our culture’s treatment of animals. Using considerable scholarship, she makes a strong case for links between white oppression of black slaves and human oppression of animals. Her thesis is not that the oppressions suffered by black people and animals have taken identical forms but that they share the same relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed. These comparisons include the brandings and auctions of both slaves and animals, the hideous means of transport (slave ships, truckloads of cattle), and the tearing of offspring from their mothers. Her illustrative juxtapositions are graphic, e.g., a photograph of a chimpanzee in a syphilis experiment beside a photo of a black man in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. As Alice Walker writes in the preface, “This powerful book…will take a lifetime to forget.” Chilling yet enlightening, this provocative book is vitally important in our efforts to understand the roots of individual and societal violence.

This book is an older one, thus the look of the cover.


Book Review: Animal Liberation by Peter Singer

I read this book because it was mentioned in Sunaura Taylor’s Beasts of BurdenApparently this is classic animal liberation stuff that I had never heard of — it came out before The Sexual Politics of Meat (1990) and I could see, perhaps, the influence this book had on that one — the mentioning of Mary Wollstonecraft and Victorian veg writers and and and. Perhaps Singer was even mentioned in Politics but I just wasn’t in the right place of mind to notice it and care to dig in. This book was first published in 1975, apparently.  All the same, I think Politics took these observations to a different level that I liked better. This book came off as very dry at times. What I did find interesting is that the term “speciesist” or “speciesism” has been around for a while. I thought it was a more contemporary term for some reason. Not sure if Singer perhaps invented the term?

As Taylor warned in Beasts, Singer does sound very ableist at times in his arguments.  Example: “After all, most of us would agree that it would be wrong to bring a child into the world if we knew, before the child was conceived, that it would have a genetic defect that would make its life brief and miserable.” Many lives are brief and miserable without genetic defects, so to pinpoint a specific group of people, when all people could be lumped in as equally at risk of meeting such criteria, is a poor, ableist argument. And this is coming from an antinatalist.

Granted, this had to be pointed out to me by Sunaura Taylor, as I would not have noticed it on my own. I’m still unlearning and relearning.

What I noticed on my own, however, is that Singer starts out playing Devil’s advocate a few times — saying things like “We will pretend that meat eaters are right in this area X so I can make an argument with what’s left.” What I mean by that is he tries to be very clinical and very neutral but you can tell he’s just pretending. And I can see why he would approach it that way, based on the time period he was writing this in. But then it slowly unravels into emotion — spouting off platitudes like animals suffer and this is just plain wrong or humans are horrible at moments that I think would seem odd to a carnist reader. Not that he says those exact things, but that is how it feels.

Perhaps he thinks by that point, he has swayed the reader into agreement? What it actually feels like, though, is him no longer catering to the carnists and instead addressing us, the veg readers. Which is fine, but I’m still trying to figure out the target audience for this. I’m sure it’s changed over editions.

He does get very philosophical here and there, which I liked. I feel like I can argue the case for veganism better now. However, when he would sprinkle in facts about factory farms or vivisection, it did feel like some of it might be dated (though I know not much has changed) and I felt like the two approaches he was taking (philosophical and factsfactsfacts) didn’t mesh well together. Rather, he didn’t mesh them well together, as I’ve seen it done very well in the past. I much prefer the other two books I’ve mentioned here, simply because their focus is different — and, quite frankly, they’re more focused in general. This one does tackle a big topic, I guess. I did like it and got a lot of good quotes from it. But I feel like this is a book that is easier to be quoted from than read. So, vegan readers, don’t feel like you need to rush out and read this one. Maybe I started off with the wrong Singer book?

Some quotes I want to pin here:

“[Animal vivisectionists] cannot deny the animals’ suffering, because they need to stress the similarities between humans and other animals in order to claim their experiments may have some relevance for human purposes.”

“It is at this point that the consequences of speciesism intrude directly into our lives, and we are forced to attest personally to the sincerity of our concern for nonhuman animals. Here we have an opportunity to do something, instead of merely talking and wishing the politicians would do something. It is easy to take a stand about a remote issue, but speciesist, like racists, reveal their true nature when the issue comes nearer home. To protest about bullfighting in Spain, the eating of dogs in South Korea, or the slaughter o f baby seals in Canada while continuing to eat eggs from hens…or veal from calves…is like denouncing apartheid in South Africa while asking your neighbors not to sell their houses to blacks.”

“American television broadcasts programs on animals in the wild (or supposedly in the wild — sometimes the animals have been captured and released in a more limited space to make filiming easier) almost every night of the week; but film of intensive farms is limited to the briefest of glimpses as part of infrequent ‘specials’ on agriculture or food production. The average viewer must know more about the lives of cheetahs and sharks than he or she knows about the lives of chickens or veal calves. The result is that most of the ‘information’ about farm animals to be gained from watching television is in the form of paid advertising, which ranges from ridiculous cartoons of pigs who want to be made into sausages and tuna trying to get themselves canned, to straightforward lies about the conditions in which broiler chickens are reared. The newspapers do little better. Their coverage of nonhuman animals is dominated by ‘human interest’ events like the birth of a baby gorilla at the zoo, or by threats to endangered species…”

“Nature may often ‘know best,’ but we must use or own judgement in deciding when to follow nature. For all I know, war is ‘natural’ to human beings — it certainly seems to have been a preoccupation for many societies, in very different circumstances, over a long period of history — but I have no intention of going to war to make sure that I act in accordance with nature. We have the capacity to reason about what it is best to do. We should use this capacity (and if you are really keen on appeals to ‘nature,’ you can say that it is natural for us to do so).”

“The point of altering one’s buying habits is not to keep oneself untouched by evil, but to reduce the economic support for the exploitation of animals, and to persuade others to do the same. So it is not a sin to continue to wear leather shoes you bought before you began to think about Animal Liberation. When your leather shoes wear out, but nonleather ones; but you will not reduce the profitability of killing animals by throwing out your present ones. With diet, too, it is more important to remember the major aims than to worry about such details as whether the cake you are offered at a party was made with a factory farm egg.”

“Whatever the theoretical possibilities of rearing animals may be, the fact is that the meat available from butchers and supermarkets comes from animals who were not treated with any real consideration at all while being reared. so we must ask ourselves, not: Is is ever right to eat meat? but: Is it right to eat this meat? Here I think that those who are opposed to the needless killing of animals and those who oppose only the infliction of suffering must join together and give the same, negative answer.”

“Would we be prepared to let thousands of humans die if they could be saved by a single experiment on a single animal?…This question is, of course, purely hypothetical. There has never been and never could be a single experiment that saved thousands of lives. The way to reply to this hypothetical question is to pose another: Would the experimenters be prepared to carry out their experiment on a human orphan under six months old if that were the only way to save thousands of lives?”

Book Review: Beasts of Burden by Sunaura Taylor

This book was an eye-opener. This is, so far, the only Disability Liberation work I’ve ever read. I brought a lot of biases and assumptions to the table and am leaving with a greater understanding of my ableism–including within how I conducted my animal rights advocacy. Ableism and carnism and patriarchy and racism and sexism and speciesism are linked. I knew that. But they are linked in such a way that even fighting against one can undermine the fight against another. It will take careful practice and awareness on my part moving forward.

I’ve already posted once about this book with some quotes I archived here so that I can refer back to them. Below are some more of my favorite quotes from this book.

One thing that Taylor did well–the main thing I got out of this book personally–is what ableism is and how to spot it in my actions and in the world around me. When she recounts her interaction with Peter Singer and he asks her (and others) “If you could take a pill that would cure you, wouldn’t you?” and how some disabled persons would say no… That shocked me. That made me stop and think. This book made me realize that the question itself is wrong to be asked. That’s like asking a black person “If you could turn white, would you?” Or homosexual person “If you could be turned straight, wouldn’t you want that?” Or a woman “Don’t you wish you had been born a man?” It assumes that there is a “perfect” state of existence. It assumes that there is something wrong with the individual, rather than the world and that there is something wrong with the person. A person should not have to change in order to fit in. The world should be accepting of the being as they already are. If a world cannot accept someone as they are, perhaps there is something wrong with the world (news flash: there is). That is what this book taught me–what I did not already understand about disability going into it.

The only thing I thought Sunaura Taylor didn’t argue well enough to my satisfaction is her critique of those who think that many domesticated animals simply should not exist (they are pro-extinction). I am one of those. Here is a quote for more context:

“The reasoning behind an abolitionist argument for extinction is on one level very simple: if we stop bringing domesticated animals into existence, then humans won’t be able to exploit them and make them suffer. This is pretty much the opposite of Temple Grandin’s argument. Where Grandin sees animals’ ongoing existence as enough of a justification to continue to use and kill them, many animal activists see the suffering and exploitation of domesticated animals as enough of a justification for their extinction. These animal advocates believe that we have a deep responsibility to treat the animals who currently exist with compassion and dignity while they are alive, as well as a responsibility to stop breeding millions of these animals every year—after all, so many animals exist only because humans breed them. Nonetheless, at a certain point a decision will have to be made about whether remaining animals are sterilized or kept from breeding on their own.”

She states the above, and then goes on to say that this is glazing over issues. But I cannot seem to put her official stance on it in my own words. At best I think she says that we cannot see it as so black and white, because this assumes that there is something wrong with the animals and therefore those with disability; that there is something wrong with dependence and co-dependence. She does make a good case for showing that dependence does not mean weakness, etc. But I don’t think that everyone who calls for farm animals’ immediate steps toward peaceful extinction actually argues from that “they’re dependent, so they must go” place as she seems to think. As an anti-natalist and supporter of VHEMT, I think that most living creatures are better off to never have lived–abled or disabled. I wish she had, maybe, used (what I will now call) her “co-evolution” argument  (that we are responsible for these domesticated animals but that calling for extinction is ableist) for something like…feral cats. Many feral cats are round up and killed because they are said to be a threat to wild bird populations, never mind that our buildings, pollution, and habitat destruction are the real threat. Instead we blame feral cats and so they are murdered. I wish she had used clearer examples like that–where we have caused a problem and are trying to fix it but fixing it in an evil way–to make her point. I can see it working better there than with the domesticated farm animals because I’m still unclear in how she thinks calling for farm animals’ peaceful extinction, at least for those animals who cannot even breed or give birth without us, is ableist. I can see how it would be for those farm animals that don’t require us for breeding. Or perhaps that is her point all along–that the definition of dependence shouldn’t encompass even those that don’t need us for breeding. As you can see, I wish she had expounded this point.

More quotes from Beasts of Burden are below.

“Dependency has been used to justify slavery, patriarchy, imperialism, colonization, and disability oppression. The language of dependency is a brilliant rhetorical tool, allowing those who use it to sound compassionate and caring while continuing to exploit those they are supposedly concerned about.

In many ways the thinking behind the humane meat movement is a philosophy built on the idea of independence. Domesticated animals and human being shave evolved together to be interdependent—animals help human beings, and we in turn help the animals—or so the argument goes… Instead a disability perspective on interdependence recognizes that we are all vulnerable and receive care (more often than not doing both at once) over meat conversation is a much-needed analysis of what it means to be accountable to beings who are vulnerable.”


“I agree with those who support sustainable animal farming about the horrors of factory farms snad the importance of environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. But commodifying and slaughtering animals for food is not natural or righteous—even if it’s done on a small family farm or in a factory system designed to minimize cruelty. There are better ways to be humane.”


“People also justify it through ableist conceptions of the natural and of dependency, which suggest that there is a depoliticized thing called ‘nature’ that determines what kinds of bodies and minds are exploitable and killable, and that excuses uses those who are weaker and dependent for our own benefit. When animal commodification and slaughter is justified through ableist positions, veganism becomes a radical anti-ableist position that corporeality—socially, politically, environmentally, and in what we consume. In other words, veganism is not just about food-it is an embodied practice of challenging ableism through what we eat, wear, and use and a political position that takes justice for animals as integral to justice for disabled people… Veganism is an embodied act of resistance to objectification and exploitation across difference—a corporeal way of enacting one’s political and ethical beliefs daily.”


“Domesticated animals are similarly understood as utterly dependent, and unfit for the wild. Environmentalists, animal welfarists, and animal advocates have all portrayed domesticated animals as tragically, even grotesquely, dependent. Disabled people and domesticated animals are among those who have to content with society’s stereotypes about what it is to be unnatural and abnormal, as well as assumptions about the indignity of dependency. In many ways we have been presented as beasts and as burdens.”

My favorite quotes from Sunaura Taylor’s Beasts of Burden so far:

“As UC Berkley gender and women’s studies professor and linguistics scholar Mel Y. Chen explains, ” Linguistic criteria are established prominently and immutably in humans’ terms, establishing human preeminence before the debates about linguistic placement of humans’ animal subordinates even begin.” The view that language is uniquely human is of course to our advantage.

Ableism allows us to view human abilities as unquestionably superior to animal abilities; it propels our assumptions that our own human movements, thought processes, and ways of being are always not only more sophisticated than animals’ but in fact give us value. Animals, in their inferior bestial state, can be used by us without moral concern, and those humans who have been associated with animals (people of color, women, queer people, poor people, and disabled people, among others) are also seen as less sophisticated, as having less value, and sometimes even as being less or non-human. In fact, certain abilities and capabilities are central to definitions of the human; they are thought to mark the boundaries between humanity and the rest of the animal world. In this way ableism gives shape to what and who we think of as human versus animal.

Animals consistently voice preferences and ask for freedom. They speak to us every day when they cry out in pain or try to move away from our prods, electrodes, knives, and stun guns. Animals tell us constantly that they want out of their cages, that they want to be reunited with their families, or that they don’t want to walk down the kill chute. Animals express themselves all the time, and many of us know it. If we didn’t, factory farms and slaughterhouses would not be designed to constrain any choices an animal might have. We deliberately have to choose not to hear when the lobster bangs on the walls from inside a pot of boiling water or when the hen who is past her egg-laying prime struggles against the human hands that enclose her legs around her neck. We have to choose not to recognize the preference expressed when the fish spasms and gasps for oxygen in her last few minutes alive. Considering animals voiceless betrays an ableist assumption of what counts as having a voice–an assumption that many disabled and nondisabled people alike often make about animals…

Denying someone [else] justice just because you do not yet have your own is never a good idea. I am also convinced we cannot have disability liberation without animal liberation–they are intimately tied together. What if, rather than dismissing or disassociating for the struggle of animals, we embraced what political theorist Claire Jean Kim calls an ‘ethics of avowal,’ a recognition that oppressions are linked, and that we can be ‘open in meaningful and sustained way to the suffering and claims of other subordinated groups, even or perhaps especially in the course of political battle’? Compassion is not a limited resource

It is difficult to ascertain what role these articles play in marginalizing the vegetarian experience when there are so many more pressing issues that confront individuals who might otherwise choose to try to become vegetarian or vegan, such as the lack of healthy affordable food in low-income neighborhoods, often largely inhabited by people of color, and a government that subsidizes and promotes animal and sugar-heavy diets over ones with vegetables and fruits. yet rather than focus on these series structural barriers, many articles on vegetarianism and veganism often present the challenge of avoiding meat and animal products as challenge to one’s very own normalcy and acceptability…

It’s not that there are no challenges to becoming a vegetarian or vegan, but in the media, including authors of popular books on food and food politics, contribute to the ‘enfreakment’ of what is so often patronizingly referred to as the vegan or vegetarian ‘lifestyle.’ But again, the marginalization of those who care about animals is nothing new. Diane Beers writes in her book For the Prevention of Cruelty: The History and Legacy of Animal Rights Activism in the United States that ‘several late nineteenth-century physicians concocted a diagnosable for of mental illness to explain such bizarre behavior. Sadly, they pronounced these misguided souls suffered from “zoophilpsychosis.”‘ As Beers describes, zoophilpsychosis (an excessive concern for animals) was more likely to be diagnosed in women, who were understood to be ‘particularly susceptible to the malady.’ As the early animal advocacy movement in Britain and the United States was largely made up of women, such charges worked to uphold the subjugation both of women and of nonhuman animals.”