Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

welcome to nadia! January 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 5:17 pm
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Our newest blogger is Nadia (whose first post is below) — thanks for joining us!

As always: are you a vegan of color? Want to blog here? Let us know. Thanks… & thanks to all our visitors for reading us!

 

Sharing Meals

Filed under: Uncategorized — nosnowhere @ 3:41 pm
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In a post about Asian Americans and Palestine, Rage speaks briefly about food, and I think it’s relevant to a lot of stuff we talk about here:

I’ve mentioned before (I think, and if not, it’s a pending post that I will definitely get to soon), that while the narrative of Asian American (and broader) cultural studies sometimes suggests that traditions and sharing around food are one of the ways that different communities build solidarity, there’s often a gap for people who observe dietary restrictions. So where the whole “we all eat with chopsticks” or “rice is central” themes are nice, it makes it hard to break bread with APA compatriots when the bread has lard and there’s pork or meat in every other dish.

Not understanding how a simple issue like poor menu planning can immediately alienate and make folks less open to collaboration when it excludes consideration of vegetarian and halal diets is a fundamental failing of a lot of pan-Asian American efforts. You want to think that the community and political stuff should take precedence, but I’ve heard time and again that when something so simple is completely not considered, people lose faith that there’s any point in trying for the bigger issues. I’ve seen this change gradually in cities on the East Coast, perhaps because South Asians and others are still more active in pan-Asian spaces, but it’s pretty terrible on the West coast and other places. If I’m going to end up at a “community” dinner where I can’t order something, I might as well be part of the NRA.

 

Vegetarianism and the Hypermasculine January 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 9:07 pm
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Originally posted at Afronautical.

So I began thinking the other day about the bizarre relationship between food and gender (and of course sexuality). It is pretty well known that meat is associated with masculinity (perhaps lending to the higher rate of certain health issues in men?). If you want examples: here here here here here. Men eat more meat than women traditionally, etc etc. However, I came to thinking– how is my masculinity affected. After all black men are hypermasculinized in the public discourse… so do I come out not as demasculinized? How masculine, in the public eye, is a Black male vegan compared to a White male vegan, or an Asian male vegan, or a Latino vegan, or so on and so on.

 

obama “cares about animal rights very much”

This is probably old news to lots of folks — I’ve been trying to limit my consumption of election news, for my sanity — but the AP had a story on January 16 called “Obama Pledges Support for Animal Rights.” It’s a short article, but here is the relevant chunk:

Obama responded that he cares about animal rights very much, “not only because I have a 9-year-old and 6-year-old who want a dog.” He said he sponsored a bill to prevent horse slaughter in the Illinois state Senate and has been repeatedly endorsed by the Humane Society.

“I think how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other,” he said. “And it’s very important that we have a president who is mindful of the cruelty that is perpetrated on animals.”

Sounds decent at first, especially considering we’ve lost Dennis Kucinich again, & Clinton has ties to corporate agriculture.

But what does Obama mean? How far is he really willing to go on behalf of animals (& on a personal level, does he eat meat or dairy)? The Humane Society is definitely an animal welfare group — as opposed to animal rights (ie. “happy meat” is okay, even though the animal still dies unnecessarily). Hm, maybe that’s what Obama means — he’s interested in supporting small farmers who slaughter sentient beings, & not large corporate factory farms. Great. Unfortunately, the “cruelty perpetrated on animals” doesn’t stop when you give them access to the outdoors & feed them grass, instead of making them cannibals… & then still kill them at the end.

(And I hope, that if his children do persuade him to add a dog to their household, that he doesn’t buy one from a pet store — & better yet, that he adopts one that already needs a home.)

 

futures without meat? January 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:56 pm
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I read a lot of science fiction & fantasy. Occasionally in these books, we’re shown societies that don’t eat any animal products. I’ve found they tend to fall into two categories.

In the first, the vegan thing is part of a larger, governmentally-imposed ban on certain foods. This is generally seen as a bad, nanny-state, Big Brother sort of thing. For example, in Kage Baker‘s Company novels — which I love, btw — meat is banned, as are alcohol, chocolate, & other such substances. No one seems happy to be avoiding meat, & in fact, they sneak the banned stuff whenever they can.

In the second, not eating animals is just seen as normal. It’s not enforced by the state, it’s just tradition, & in fact, eating flesh is seen as barbaric. I’m blanking on specific titles right now, but I know several years ago when I was doing some research in grad school on feminist science fiction that some women’s SF featured such societies. Some of them were, in retrospect, rather embarrassingly hippy-dippy (earth mother second wave feminist sort of stuff) — not because of the vegan stuff, though!

Have any of you read any science fiction or fantasy w/meatless worlds? What were they like? What about any other novels dealing w/animal rights issues more generally? Naomi Novik‘s Temeraire books feature dragons that are as intelligent as people, & who begin to agitate for better treatment from the humans they work for/with. All the humans still eat meat, & from an animal rights standpoint I think it’s dangerous in reality to advocate for rights for certain animals based on an intelligence cutoff (no one in the books suggests that, say, cows should have rights). But I still think it’s an interesting thing to come up in the books.

There are science fiction/fantasy anthologies on the most random & sometimes bizarre themes these days (Vampires & birthdays! I also heard there is a werewolves-&-Christmas one coming out too!). Has there ever been one about veganism/animal rights? That would be fascinating — particularly if the contributors tended towards being happy vegans, & not folks convinced that big government is out to take all our freedom away.

 

feeds, & a welcome! January 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 8:52 pm
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Welcome to Royce Drake, the newest blogger here. His first post, about veg*n food in prisons, is below. Thanks for joining us, Royce!

And as always, if there are other vegans of color who want to post here, please get in touch.

Speaking of staying in touch — add our RSS feed to your feed reader & you’ll be able to see new posts whenever they’re added. For those of you on Livejournal, your feed is here (cheers, Frandroid, for setting it up!).

 

Vegan Prisons

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 8:45 pm
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I’m at work right now, and decided to cruise the blogosphere, and stumbled across PETA’s Top 10 Most Vegetarian Friendly Prison’s List. Given that people of color make up at least 70% (as of 1998, I couldn’t find more recent data right away), I thought the list was relevant, but what does it mean for people of color? Notice how comments make it out to be a special privilege to have veg*n foods. Also I’d just like to point out that I’m biased into thinking there is something wrong with the list because I just don’t like PETA.

 

sacrificing for the cause January 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 11:54 am
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In this post, Filipina activist Ninotchka Rosca lauds the strength of some of the women activists she has worked with over the years. She lists examples of commitment, including doing work while seriously ill or the day after a major car accident. She then says:

Me? I think the worst for me was when, because of an impossible schedule, I had to give up Guapo, the little cocker spaniel. That wasn’t much, but bursting into tears and embarrassing myself and the friend who had driven us to the animal shelter was.

You don’t have to look far to find stories of activists who have sacrificed their personal lives for their causes, such as folks who have had to place their children in the care of another in order to continue doing their work. In comparison, Rosca says above that giving up her dog “wasn’t much,” & that “As we say in the organization, for liberation, others have given up more. Much, much, much, much, much, much moreā€¦”

I would imagine that activists who had to leave their children would be given tremendous respect for their difficult choice (at least I would hope so!). I suspect that part of Rosca’s dismissiveness regarding her cocker spaniel was a reaction to knowing that others would think that giving up “just a dog” is nothing to cry about, & that if she was upset, it meant that she was a wimp & not committed enough to the cause.

This cavalier attitude about the lives of companion animals isn’t limited to activists, of course. Check Craigslist (in pretty much any city, I’m guessing, but NYC for sure) & you’ll see dozens of ads for folks discarding their animals because they got bored with them, can’t be bothered to work with their animals to overcome minor behavioral problems (imagine if humans got rid of their children because they wet the bed too much!), or other appalling reasons. In this disposable society, animals are treated as accessories we are free to discard as soon as our whim changes. Yes, there are folks who don’t do this — but then they get dismissed with labels like “crazy cat lady.” (I especially think that women who have chosen not to have children & who share their home with multiple animals get targeted as mentally ill & bitter & whatever.)

But I think that this ties into so many unhealthy attitudes I’ve seen myself (& heard about from others) in activist communities. Yes, activism is not a walk in the park; it requires hard work, & yes, sacrifice. But I don’t think the answer to grief & stress related to these sacrifices is to talk about how others have sacrificed much more! Why do we get into these “more activist-y than thou” pissing contests? And why are we expected to smother feelings that are unrelated to the cause? Some of my friends have complained numerous times about being unsupported, within activist circles, with regard to their mental health issues. Because we’re supposed to be so bad-ass that we can just crush our depression ourselves & keep on marching against the man, right? Or… we’re supposed to be depressed, look at how screwed up the world is, but don’t take time off to take care of yourself, don’t talk about being depressed or medication or therapy.

This is turning into a ramble, but I guess the point I want to end on is that creating & perpetuating forms of activism that don’t offer support for a life outside activism (including families of both human & animal types) doesn’t seem really sustainable or effective to me. I know so many people who think that activism means spending every night at meetings until the wee hours & then every weekend going to interminable marches in far-flung places (& probably getting arrested). How many people would sign up for that kind of life if they had a choice? Why can’t we support people in ways that make giving up their family not an option (or at least, the very very very last-ditch option)?

(I am sure some folks will read this post & curse me as a lazy bougie wannabe or something — but the fact remains that the world needs more activists. Sure, you’ll always have folks who are ready & willing to throw out everything else in their lives for the cause. But how many more people would get involved if there were more ways to do so that didn’t involve that? Wanting to have love & family & other interests in one’s life isn’t a character defect.)

 

 
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