Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Intersection Between Animal Liberation & Queer Liberation


"Animal liberation" and "gay liberation" are two phrases that are rarely heard in the same sentence. But, in fact, the liberation of gay and lesbian people, and indeed the liberation of all people, depends upon the liberation of animals. We must come to understand this, just as we must understand how different forms of bias against people, such as racism and sexism, are interconnected."
(Gay-Straight Animal Rights Alliance)




My Take: My Queer identity is so deeply entangled with my vegan identity, the two go hand in hand. I find that for me Gay Liberation and Animal Liberation are married partners. How can I someone who has struggled and continue to be persecuted by society go out and do the same to someone who is different from me? Queers are different purely based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but ultimately we are all people. We share a common bond of love, emotion, and desire to live out our lives freely and openly. The same applies to animals, they look different and act different but we share with them a yearning to be free, to love, and to take care of our families. I believe it is critical to choose vegetarianism to truly evolve as a human being, our opponents use the same argument to debunk all of our liberation and struggles. They invoke the "word of god" to says gays don't deserve equality or that God put animals here for us to eat. God if one chooses to believe in some sort of spiritual higher power also made Queer humans & animals, s/he also gives the option to eat and live compassionately through the vegetarian option. I encourage all Queers & allies to our struggles for peace and justice to join me in choosing veganism the healthiest, most ethical, and eco-conscious lifestyle on the planet. You already have one "alternative lifestyle", why not add another?

Personal Connections:
"When a New York City tour bus came to a halt and the passengers aboard started hysterically screaming and pointing toward Nate Walker, he and his boyfriend frantically looked for the cause of the commotion. They were sure somebody was getting mugged. It was only when a person on the bus began heckling did they realize they were the cause of the commotion. They had been standing hand in hand.

“We felt like we were animals in a zoo,” Nate told me. “I felt like I was being demeaned and dehumanized. And because of that experience and many other instances of marginalization, I stand in solidarity with all those who are oppressed, including animals. How can you not make that connection?”

"Both vegans and queers are stereotyped. To identify as both in many ways epitomizes marginalization. John Phillips, Executive Director of the League of Humane Voters of New York City explained, “I came out and went vegan at the same time. Some family members worried I would die of protein deficiency and AIDS. They’d wonder: ‘Which is going to kill him first?"
(Satya Mag)


LGBTQ Vegetarian/Vegan Advocacy Organizations & Meet Ups
:
(Please note some of these may not currently be active, there are also countless more which I am not aware of, let me know and I will update)

VegOut is a social group for gay, lesbian, bisexual,transgender, and queer-friendly vegetarians and vegetarian wannabees."
The VegOut vegan potluck is held on the fourth Sunday of each month, and don't miss the VegOutings to local restaurants. For more information, call the recorded message at (212) 802-8655

Long Island, NY - Veg PRIDE

San Francisco/East Bay, California: Lesbian Vegetarians Unite! Do you feel alienated and isolated
among your carnivorous friends? Do you long for the support of those who
share your ethical ideals? If so, join us for ongoing lesbian vegetarian
meetings in the East Bay and San Francisco. Diversity welcome. For more information, write to Martikheel@aol.com.




San Diego, California: Soyboys is a new social group for gay and gay-friendly guys who are vegetarian or interested in a vegetarian lifestyle. We meet at least once a month for potlucks, outings to vegetarian (friendly) restaurants and other social events. Please contact Michael for more information. sandiegosoyboys@aol.com.



Boston, MA: The G/L/B Vegetarian
Society meets twice a month for potlucks, restaurant outings, coffeehouse
gatherings, or picnics. For more information, contact Bill at (617) 625-6918.


Washington D.C. Vegout e-mail group.



Houston, TX: Houston Gay/Les Vegetarian Meet Up.



Salt Lake City, Utah: GSARA is the Gay/Straight Animal Rights Alliance, working to promote the awareness and advocacy of a culture free of sexism, racism, heterosexism, speciesism, anti-Semitism, and oppression based on class, religion, age, ethnicity, national origin, or disability.



Sydney, Australia: Ecogirls is a new social and activist group of vegetarian lesbians. "We are 'physically' based in the Sydney metropolitan area but virtually based everywhere." Write to Lynda for more information.



Queer Veggie Links:

Queer & Veg Friendly Travel

Experimentation on Homosexual Sheep

Gay Men Urged to go Vegetarian

The PETA Files: Gay Makeout Tour!

"As far as I’m concerned, sliced to death is sliced to death, whether a slaughterhouse worker or a homophobic bully happens to be holding the knife." (Jasmin Singer)

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." (Leonardo Davinci)

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE VEGETARIAN STARTER KIT!

30 comments:

Miss Vicki said...

Wow...I'm absolutely speechless, that my eating of meat has brought on such a what??

Right now I really can't say anything I'm still trying to digest my eating of meat has invoked the words 'God' 'Ethical' 'Unethical' and just all kinds of not true things about me.

So I will return - I can only compare this as having a good judgmental lashing from a straight person who wants to bully degrade with 'God' 'Unethical' 'Ethical'.

I shall return.

Queers United said...

Vicki thanks to your openness to reading the entry. Animal rights is a big issue for me up there with Queer rights. I have deeply held convictions for both of these issues. The beauty of the world though is there are a variety of thoughts and opinions. So my ethics might not be your ethics but atleast we can agree on 99% of everything else, as it appears we have a similar political schema.

Larry said...

I am wondering how representative, in, perhaps, percentages of animals "produced?" I suspect this vid showed all of the worst possible scenarios? Of course a site like this, of us gays, is not the place to be heard regarding over-population of the human race! When human numbers were kept in check by nature, chickens roamed free, cattle were members of the "family," etc! Humans are nearing SEVEN BILLION now...... I do not think it is wrong for humanely raising and "culling," (a nice euphemism for "slaughter") animals for food. The problem is too many humans, needing too much food! (and fuel!)

Queers United said...

Hey Larry thanks for your comment. Unfortunately this video is footage of several slaughterhouses and it is the standard procedure on factory farms today. It is mass production killing all without pain killers. One of the way to solve the world hunger problem is actually vegetarianism. Animals eat tons of the grain and water that could be used to feed the human population had we not been raising cattle for food or atleast not in the amounts we currently are.

Seth said...

I tend to find strong connections between all my "big" political arenas (GLBT, race, class/workers, animals, environment, etc.), so I'm not shocked you have a similar experience. I have to admit that GLBT rights and animal rights aren't the two that most often pop up together, but it's great to see all these resources. I find meat/animal product consumption to be such a touchy issue for people on all sides. It's hard to show people the pain, destruction, and waste involved in the animal industry without them feeling attacked or guilty, making them want to strike back or run away. I'm glad to see you bring the issue up and I hope the information helps people (and animals.)

Queers United said...

Thank you Seth for your thoughtful and insightful comment. I couldn't agree more with you about the commonalities and links between all these struggles whether they be GLBT, animals, womens rights, etc we are all linked by our oppression and our yearning for justice.

I know that its hard for people when faced with any of these issues to come around as they feel guilty and attacked as you mentioned, my goal as a blogger and as an activist is to create awareness and change hearts and minds.

Anonymous said...

I DO feel guilty as I am still eating meat even though I know better. I AM comming around as I eat less and less every month, and I DONT feel attacked by any of you. Contrarywise I feel that this is A Super Safe Site to dialogue. But I am ignorant to some degree and feel like I want to contribute intelligently and compassionatly. So let me make an effort and we'll see. I would like to start by saying I think we can all agree that it has been humans that have thrown the whole Planet out of balance, and that we have been doing this now for multiple centuries. It has taken a long time to screw things up as badly as we have and it will also require an equally long time to attempt a rebalance. While I agree that vegetarianism is a great choice and one part of the rebalancing act, it too requires a slow integration and this is my reasoning: Suppose everyone were to have a "sudden" change of heart and decide to love animals an not eat them. Well we have created a worldwide animal husbandry and not only have we overpopulated the human race but the "Livestock" race as well. In order to sustain the sheer number of animal now not eating meat( as well as not being eaten) we will have to have put in place a well thought out and viable plan for feeding all these creatures or there will be mass starvation (particularly of the animals) as we compete for limited resources. So as I am all for the planet going Vegetarian , i think it imperative that we explore plan and put in place contingencies for All these animals that are no longer being eaten and in need of food. Does this come across as intelligent or am I way off the mark? P.S. isn't there someway to be a compassionate and caring non vegan. I can give up meat, but i REALLY love cheese.Wah! Love Jofish

Queers United said...

Jofish I think we all move along at our own pace, the fact that you recognize this as an issue in my opinion is wonderful, so many people just dismiss animals as not having any rights even though we know they are fully capable of feeling pain and emotion.

I hear your point about if everyone were to go vegetarian tomorrow, however that is not going to happen so I don't think it is really an issue. Vegetarianism/veganism diets are growing rapidly, and even some people are choosing to live predominantly as vegans and cut out much of their meat intake, I think we have a long way to go.

I really recommend the free veg starter kit I linked to at the end of the entry. There are some wonderful soy mock meat products which make transitioning easier when you can have a veggie burger, soy hot dog, soymilk, or perhaps riblets. For every meat product there is a delicious and cruelty free analog at whole foods or any health food store. =)

Erica said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. Im always eager to get new readers so anyone else thats interested, (http://shesontherag.blogspot.com)
feel free!

As for the post, i do eat meat, but mostly of the burger/hotdog variety, and wouldnt have a problem converting to vegetarianism if only there werent three issues: 1.) I find that members of PETA, or other animal rights groups tend to care more about dogs and sheep than human beings, and while i have a fondness for all things furry, i couldnt never bring myself to do all of the bold political acts (say, snatching a fur coat right off of a runway model) if i didnt also show equal passion for feminism, or civil and gay rights. AND 2.)Organic foods and a hell of alot more expensive than regular, more unhealthy foods. 3.) I kind of like my burgers and hotdogs.

Great post!

Queers United said...

Hey Erica thanks for visiting and commenting. I'll respond to your three statements.

1. PETA represents 2 million people worldwide, and the actions of a few people cannot be used to paint a broad brush on the masses. Same if a gay/les person does something odd doesn't mean we all do that. 2. Non-organic food is also vegetarian, while organic is great, being vegetarian has zero to do with eating organic. 3. There are many great alternatives like soy burgers and hotdogs which are healthy and don't involve murder. Try em out, you got nothing to lose and you already have indicated an interest in veggie foods.

Anonymous said...

Dear Queers U, thank you So much for your kind response! Like I said before, I really feel good about the Dialogue on your Blog> I totally have been substituting Soy for meat and you are so Right about it being delicious and a great sub. I still would respect an answer about the "cheese" thing from you. Also came up with two additional questions. 1. What about oysters? Are these cosidered sentient and on the Vegetarian diet? This is really the only "meat" I will miss as I transition and it will help me to understand the broader philosophy and 2.What about people who live in Arctic environments? Aren't some Alaskan cultures actually Surviving on Carnivourous diets? Once again Please pardon my ignorance but I really want to gain a stronger knowledge base. Thanks Love Jofish

Seth said...

Jofish:
I find it's much easier to get local, free range, ethical (by my standards) egg and dairy products than meat that matches the same standards. Check out farmers' markets or grocers that focus on local products. At least that way you can meet the farmers and maybe even the animals who are making the things you consume. When it comes down to it, you set the standards for what is acceptable and it's best when you can see for yourself whether those standards are being met. There are also some nationally distributed brands whose welfare standards are available and verified by respectable organizations.

As for fish, Monterey Bay Aquarium's web site gives a pretty comprehensive guide of how different sea creatures are raised or caught and the impact of those processes. The focus is more on sustainability than treatment, but impact on the environment is impact on all species in that habitat, so it relates to animal welfare in some ways.

Simkha said...

Hey all,

very very interesting column and interest. Though I'm not the original blogger, I am a longtime vegetarian (18 years), vegan (7 years), animal rights activist (13 years) and lesbian (um, out as bisexual for about five years, but I'd say I've been queer for about all 38 years of my life). So I'd like to respond to some of these posts/comments. I tend to be long-winded, so I'll post to one at a time - and yeah, I'll try to keep it short but that's not always possible.

So - missvicki, I can't tell if you were sincere or pissed off :) So I'll just say this:

because humans have long abused and used animals, it is common to consider them as, well "them," as "other," to consider them beneath humans, to consider caring about them as emotionally weak or feminine (and we all know what a bad thing that is! In sections of her book The Sexual Politics of Meat, Carol Adams makes excellent points about the feminization of meat and its political implications).

It's certainly difficult for people to undo habits that have been with them for a long time; it's hard for people to accept that "other" doesn't mean "bad" or "evil."

And so on this note, I suggest that just because a being is not human does not mean s/he is unworthy of respect, of being allowed to live her life free from torture and pain. When we talk about torture and pain of farmed animals, we (activists) mean it as literally as when we talk about prisoners at Abu Grahib or Guantanamo Bay. The animals are born (made, the females raped) for the sole purpose of being butchered; they have no hope of living life, and their deaths may be even worse. Worse than mere words can even explain.

Well, I'm kind of rambling, but though sometimes many of us activists can get exasperated with meat-eaters in the same way meat-eaters get exasperated with vegans, I don't think QueersUnited was trying to bash anyone over the head - just giving us something to think about.

Oh yeah, and y'all know - there are gay animals! :)

Simkha said...

Larry,
I couldn't agree more with you about human overpopulation. I am probably in the minority, but I don't think anyone, gay or not, procreating is a good idea. :)

But to the point of the sheer numbers of non-humans: well, I'd go dancing down the middle of Asheville naked tomorrow if overnight everyone became vegan. Luckily for Asheville and unfortunately for the 3 or 4 chickens who were just slaughtered in the time it took me to write this, that isn't going to happen.

Farmed animals are forcibly bred; I'm certain there would be very nice vets who would sterilize the "farmed" animals so they couldn't reproduce, and that all the current ranchland could be turned into sanctuaries in the event of a sudden shift to world veganism - I'm sure a solution could be found, but the issue here is that while this is a hypothetical argument I've heard people use often as a way of saying it's better to eat meat than not to because of this potential problem, it is absolutely true that at this moment countless animals - cows, pigs, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, cats, dogs, lambs, chickens, fish, whales and crustaceans are being slaughtered - many of them struggling against their fate, some of them being boiled alive (this usually happens to pigs) - and that's not hypothetical. So the urgency now to me seems to be not what to do with all the animals we save but rather to just save them - by not eating them or contributing to their exploitation.

Simka said...

Jofish and Larry,

Yikes, I more replied to Jofish in my reply to Larry. (I read all the comments before I started commenting on them and I got confused. Sorry!)
Ach, the cheese thing can be tricky at first. I suppose it depends on one's reasons for becoming vegan. I'm in it for animal rights and environmental reasons primarily, so when I consider what happens to the cows, it strengthens my resolve that even if I crave the taste of cheese do I really want to support such horrific practices? Are my ten or twenty minutes of pleasure and enjoyment worth the incredible suffering that supports? I used to sometimes carry pictures of veal calves and dairy cows in my wallet so that when I ate out and had a craving, I could be reminded of why I wouldn't eat the stuff.

Also, the longer a person doesn't eat foods with addictive qualities, such as dairy or cane sugar, the easier it becomes to abstain from them. The cravings do lessen!

But about cheese substitutes - I've been vegan for so long that I enjoy them, but I know they don't really compare to dairy cheese. Still, my "sacrifice" of taste is utterly minor compared to the sacrifice these animals make so unwillingly.

I love how open you are to this! :)

Simkha said...

Erica,

First, I wouldn't say that all animal rights activists care more about non-humans than we do about humans. Admittedly humans can be a great source of frustration to many of us (the wilful ignorance is extremely difficult to understand), but I don't know of a certain political "group" or "movement" whose concerns stretch more beyond what we can do just for ourselves than animal activists in general. I realize that that's a broad generalization, but overall what do we stand to gain from animal rights for ourselves? Well, a sense of achievement, but in the end we are not the ones who benefit specifically (though I think there could be a very spiritual gain to be had from doing this). The question you raise, I suppose, seems to be WHY are humans "better" than non-humans? Because we have opposable thumbs? Because we invented church? Because we trash our habitat? Because we can kill? Because we can create art? But by whose standards are those things considered superior to - the art of birds who build crazy amazing nests to attract mates (I wish I could remember which birds those are - some tropical kind)? Elephants in the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee paint. Who knows what else non-humans are capable of? Yet even if they weren't, is such inability a good enough reason to torture and eat or abuse them? Also, a disclaimer: not every activist likes PeTA. ;) As well, more than any group of activists I know, animal rights activists are more likely to be anti-corporate, to give a damn about fair trade, labor issues, civil rights and gay rights - though admittedly, many do not. Still, it's much easier to find a vegan or animal activist with crossover interests into feminism than it is to find a feminist who gives a damn about how non-human animals are treated.

Second, you can be an activist of any (and all) stripes! I'm a feminist and environmentalist and anti-corporate activist as well as animal rights. Although I don't do as much for civil rights as I would like, or for labor rights, I support these issues as well. If there is a conflict, however, I also take the side of the non-humans, the most powerless moving beings on the face of the earth (I tend to believe that plants have feelings of a sort, too, but that's another issue). Most activists do NOT snatch furs off runways - that kind of thing is generally a peta stunt and as far as I'm concerned, PeTA is a hypocritical, sexist and capitalistic organization.

And about your other two points I agree with QueersUnited. :)

I don't know if this helps or hinders anything. :)

Simkha said...

Jofish and Seth:

First, about indigenous people: okay, I don't know enough about people in the arctic to feel comfortable making a judgment. Well, I mean my initial reaction is "it's the 21st century - if you live near a food store and KMart or something, you don't need to exploit and kill animals." I don't know whether people around the Arctic Circle have access to anything else. Personally, I still think it's got to be awful to be a seal up there in that case, but my information on that is very slim.

here's a resource you could try if you're interested: www.animalsvoice.com

Still, even if Inuits do kill animals, most of the rest of the western world has access to other options. (I'm not going into food politics for the Global South just now, though :)

But one must be very careful about organic, locally-raised dairy and eggs. Most of the times the eggs come from a common warehouse type of breeder (yeah, even the organic eggs), where the chicks are still de-beaked and de-toed and the baby males are crushed alive to make fertilizer. Because egg and dairy farming are businesses and exist for the express purpose of making money, when the laying hens wear out their usefulness, they are not sent out to pasture (there wouldn't be enough grazing land after a while). They are slaughtered and become meat.
Dairy cows suffer a similar fate - since cows can only give milk to feed their calves, they must constantly be kept pregnant. Their babies are either sent to slaughter (the males) or grow up to become dairy cows (the girls). The feed they eat may be organic, but the philosophy behind the treatment is the same as on any other farm: animals are a means to an end for humans to profit from, without regard for the animals' having their own individual lives; the babies are taken from their mothers, maybe not as early as on other farms, but they are still separated (because the milk the babies need is sold to consumers instead). I haven't heard it myself, but I've read plenty of accounts of cows crying for their babies, and I have seen footage of a mama cow and her baby desperately trying to get back to each other at a livestock sale. Man, I cried. I think it was a scene from Peaceable Kingdom.
Organic standards are being lowered/changed as well as more multinational corporations buy out smaller companies and "go organic." "Organic" to many of these multinationals means more money and lowering standards (such as "organic" cows being allowed to have antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals for the first nine months of their lives, and use of a certain number of pesticides on plants without labelling - www.organicconsumers.org)


Ack, it's so much to take in and I do apologize - sometimes I forget how overwhelming it can be to be just starting out on this vegan life.

Here are a couple other resources:
http://www.bravebirds.org/

http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/06/dairy-farming/

Queers United said...

Simkha thank you for your though provoking and fact informing posts. It is great to see another Queer vegan activist around. Where are you from? Hopefully NY!

manics-fan said...

As a bi-asexual vegan I can't tell you how happy I am to see articles drawing attention to the correlations between animal rights and LGBT rights.

We can't expect freedom for certain groups of opressed individuals, without fighting for the freedom of ALL opressed individuals, non-human animals included.

For anyone truely interested learning more about animal rights, I can strongly recommend Gary Francione's "Rain Without Thunder" book.

GO VEGAN!

Queers United said...

Manic its wonderful to see another vegan member of the community here. I haven't heard of that book but I will check it out.

Currently I am reading the Sexual Politics of Meat - which shows the intersection between feminism and vegetarianism, it's fascinating, I highly recommend!

Kim said...

My take on this is that veganism is, very generally, a white, western concept. I find it doesn't exist in that many cultures at all, and to an extent it is part of the privilege embedded in those cultures. I don't think it's in any way "natural". I think living in cities we are so divorced from having to deal with food production, we get really extreme views of what it is and can be. We're just so out of touch with the whole process, I think it's impossible to rationalise the matter either way.

That said, the idea of something being "natural" is kinda weird anyway. Animal production is no doubt horrific in it's current incarnation, and I wouldn't wish that kind of suffering on anything. However - I don't think this invalidates the concept of eating meat. I've been on organic permaculture farms where animals are a necessary, and central part of the ecology. The people living there couldn't operate without them, especially during the winter. If you make a decisions to eschew fossil fuels, I really don't think it's possible to be vegan with it, and after seeing happy cows and chickens in a happy environment where they are looked after, I really don't see that as being cruel.

Animal husbandry is one of the cornerstones of modern civilization - we couldn't live in temperate climates without it. Whether you like it or not, our culture is built on it. For instance, I live in the UK. Fish is one of the most plentiful and available, and potentially completely sustainable food sources. It's not at the moment - but that's only because of hugely wasteful archaic fishing regulations I won't bore you with here. But for island life in a temperate region, to live in any kind of sustainable way fish eating is necessary if you want to avoid imports and more energy consumption.

I find the vegan propaganda about the relative energy to make meat and veggies really irresponsible. Sure it takes more energy to make beef than wheat. But that's such a simplified case it's totally unhelpful. One animal provides building material, oils, food, clothing, tools and 1001 other things. And it can do all year round. What is there in nature for fabrics? Flax would be a main one - and that is such an intensive thing to make tiny amounts. Oils would be sunflower oil - which is a hugely damaging crop in itself.

And that's with cows. What about deer, that need to be culled every year, from the wild, or they will destroy all the vegetation? (again, our fault after we killed all the bears). Zero energy input there.

Personally, I eat only fish as I can't really stomach meat after being veggie for a long time. After experiencing permaculture living firsthand though, I just don't see how we can live without eating animals in any kind of sustainable future. Also, like I alluded to I think the whole concept of vegan purity is quite possibly a privileged white western middle class point of view anyway, but being one of thsoe people I'm too close to find out. I just know the whole thing is more complex than both sides will give credit too.

In short: industrialised animal farming, bad. Sustainable, caring animal husbandry and fishing, maybe good. IMHO!

Queers United said...

Kim I would be curious to hear your take on why you think Veganism is not natural. To me all the studies indicate that veganism is the natural diet.

We cannot eat large amounts of raw meat without getting sick, we need to cook it and prior to the discovery of fire which the first humans did not have access to, they certainly could not eat or could only eat very small amounts of meat.

Second animals run from us and the first humans likely did not have the tools necessary to hunt down these animals thereby having to resort to gathering fruits, veggies, and herbs.

Third our teeth our short and soft compared with those of omnivorous or carnivorous animals who have sharp fangs made to eat raw hide. Our digestive tract is long too, so meat rots in our colons whereby animals designed to eat meat have short digestive tracts where the flesh goes through rather quickly.

I think these points are just a few to indicate that veganism is the natural and first human diet.

Anonymous said...

There is 5000 year old tribes that are solely vegan in the himalayas, so I don't see the point of veganism being western ..
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/life/2005/01/07/stories/2005010700080200.htm

Anonymous said...

Also, for the environmental impact of meat/dairy etc, have a look at this (very long and in depth) report by the UN ..
http://www.virtualcentre.org/en/library/key_pub/longshad/a0701e/A0701E00.pdf

Anonymous said...

Kim - I find it interesting that you call veganism a western concept; Anonymous points out specific vegan tribes in the himalayas, and as any vegan will tell you, the easiest places to eat out (aside from the growing number of veg places) are of eastern origin: asian, south asian, middle eastern, etc. granted, these populations may not identify as vegetarian; it is simply the diet that is 'natural' to them. (such a sticky word, 'natural'). with that said, the idea of 'vegan purity' being a middle-class white western ideal is not lost on me. my question, i guess, is does that give us any reason to cease our pursuit for the end of animal exploitation? if anything, i believe we are thus called upon to speak and act with greater awareness as to the complexity and/or difficulty choosing a vegan lifestyle may be for different people; to work harder with greater sensitivity rather than dismiss whole cultures for fear of projecting our elitist western views upon them.

for the sake of argument, allow me to make a parallel to queer rights being a white, middle-class western movement (i am certainly not the first to do so.). imagine a culture outside of the western world that does not recognize homosexuality or gender ambiguity and instead offers strict rules as to how sexuality may be expressed (actually doesn't sound very different from our western world, now does it?). does the fact that these social mores are culturally-specific somehow make the exclusion of queer people based on their gender and/or sexual identity a little more tolerable? is homophobic emotional and physical violence any less horrible in a culture far removed from our own? perhaps if they are not subjected to violence we should just accept that it is unrealistic to ask all cultures to allow their queer population opportunities to live with all the same privileges and rights as their non-queer counterparts? i think it's one thing to think about and discuss such cultural paradigms and how they shift and change, always laden with some agenda or another, and quite another to let these perceived imbalances justify one's inaction. suffering is suffering, and we should put our energies into ending it wherever we can.


i wholeheartedly agree that there are race and class issues within vegetarian activism that cannot be ignored. i struggle with them in my work as humane educator to 5th graders. many of these kids live in families who depend on food stamps for their meals. unfortunately, maximum calories for their money is most easily found in animal products.
so, challenge? yes, absolutely. impossible? absolutely not. and indicative of yet another imperialist way of viewing the world and its myriad cultures? not if we stay true to our mission of eliminating the suffering and exploitation of animals. i daresay *that* is a 'natural' way to live, and a fair goal to present to people of all walks of life.

Calvin said...

This whole conversation is both brilliant and necessary.

My heartfelt thanks to the author. From a proud vegan transsexual whose fight for animal rights is my first priority.

I am frightened and disgusted by the scale and severity of the violence committed against non-human animals, and the mental exercises required to justify it.

All for a burger. Or a leather couch.

I just don't understand.

Queers United said...

Calvin thank you and welcome, its so good to find others who are queer vegans =)

vjudyv said...

I applaud you for this opinionpiece ! I'm a total liberation activist from the Netherlands. I'm pansexual and a vegan.

For me the struggle for animal liberation is linked with all sorts of social struggles such as womensrights, GLBT rights, anti-fascism and anti-racism (etcetera). Most of my fellow animal rights activists look at life and activism in the same way and that gives me hope.

keep up the good work, never give up the fight !

Veganarchist said...

Again, good piece fron a Universal Rights activist from the UK. I'm omnisexual, genderqueer and veganarchist (5years, was vegetarian for 16years before that).

LGBT, Antifa, Antispe, worker/labour struggle & feminisim are all intertwined imo.

paz y amor said...

Your blog is amazing! It has totally inspired me to facilitate a workshop between the animal rights and queer groups on my campus. I'm affiliated with both, and we need to realize our commonalities and unite in our struggle.

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