Vegans of Color

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

Asia for Animals Conference in Bali July 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 2:16 pm
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The fifth Asia for Animals conference will be held in Bali, Indonesia August 27-29th. It is billed as an “animal welfare” conference, so I’m guessing there will be talk of “happy meat” & the like (the menu will be “vegetarian — mainly vegan with the exception of certified free-range eggs in some dishes”). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given that Humane Society International is one of the sponsors, although perhaps they are more radical than the Humane Society in the US (hey, one can dream…).

I’m really interested in hearing more about who the primary attendees of this conference will be: Local Asian AR activists? Foreigners who don’t live in Asia? Expatriates from Western countries like the US who now live in Asia? And who will be on the panels?

I noticed in the conference description that the location is described as “until recently an idyllic fishing village on the eastern coastline of Bali.” There are many things that could explain the “until recently”; excuse my cynicism in wondering how much tourism has to do with it. It seems like the phrasing is geared towards appealing to tourists, as is the longer description of the area. The FAQs seem similarly aimed, with questions like: are there doctors or pharmacies near the conference? (In case you get sick from the weird Asian food, right? Or in case you’re worrying about your health just going to one of those funny countries?)

I was excited to hear about an Asian animal issues conference. I’m disappointed that the publicity for the conference seems aimed at foreign tourists, & that it fails to problematize the issue of tourism, though. If any VoC readers attend, please do let us know how it goes.


Local Vegans of Color Meet-Ups!

Filed under: Uncategorized — dany @ 1:51 pm

Hey People!

I was thinking it might be sweet to have local vegan of color meet ups. If you’d be interested, leave a comment here so that I can gauge interest. Then, if there’s enough of a response, I’ll start an email list to try to get stuff figured out!


If you click yr heels 3 times, you too can stop being brown July 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noemi M @ 5:37 pm
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A post on veg*ns of color and a shout out to the vegans of color blog on feministing has turned into the old vegetarian debate-fish, can it be on the vegetarian buffet table or not?

Another common argument I hear all to often in different circles is the “I don’t like labels” cover. You’ve heard it before. Someone who says “I’m part of the human race” or someone who says “I don’t see colors, I see people.” I have to admit, I always vomit a little in my mouth when I hear something shoveling this. Other variations might include something like I’m not a feminist because I like men or I don’t believe in feminism because I beleive in equal rights for men AND women.

Take this one for example:

In the meantime people should be less concerned about labels. Even though it can be frustrating when the lables get clouded, people will always have their opinions and ideas.

Sure, it’s safe to use this line when you can’t remove the label that others use for you. See, I’ll always be a “Hispanic” (sic) person to any one that looks at me. I can’t hide behind the “don’t label me” excuse because I am brown, and you know I’m brown by looking at me. Some even say they can sense my brownness over the phone (I worked billing at a call center-was called wet back and spic countless times without them even knowing my first name). You can think I’m Mexican, “exotic”, Carribean, Indian-but rest assured that I am automatically labeled as being non-white.

Another thing that irks me the wrong way appears in the comments section. Comparing isms to other isms. In this case, being bisexual and being a faux-vegetarian. It just doesn’t fly.

Yet, another thing that comes up in the comments in the opinion that I’ve heard many times: if I lived in poverty, I would be forced to eat meat because poor folks can’t tell the difference between meat and a potato. Furthermore, poor folks throw all moral convictions to the wind (if they do not eat meat for moral reasons, lets say) because, well, they are poor and therefore have no moral compass. ( Yes that was sarcasm folks). I suppose this idea comes from the belief that poor folk have to be appreciative of any food that comes their way and no poor person would turn away meat. I guess only self-respecting non-poor folks can decide what they do not want to eat.

*note on post title: I in no way want to be nonbrown. But I wonder if that’s what folks want to happen to us so we can avoid using icky labels such as “Mexican.”


new vegan recipe zine “Vegan De Guadalupe”

Filed under: vegan — Noemi M @ 1:44 pm
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Hortencia Armendariz from South Texas sent me this about her new zine “Vegan De Guadalupe.”

My first ever vegan cook zine, I put it together after collecting many vegan cookzines and thinking to myself “I should do this.” Also, because i’ve heard with frequency people comment on how expensive its to make vegan mexican food.  That’s bull!  So I wanted to prove people wrong but also make a zine that consists of easy mexican food recipes, that is great for vegan beginners, and bilingual because i’m a border child with half her heart in Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.  So all the recipes are in english and spanish. It has great cover design by my bff danae; who incidentally introduced me to veganism while attending school in Monterrey, Mexico.

These are the recipes included:
Chilaquiles Verdes, Papas a la Mexicana, Sopa de Lentejas, Tacos de Papa, Chalupas, Taco Chino, Caldo Tlalpeño, Frijoles de Olla, Frijoles a la Charra, Calabacitas Guisadas, Mole Verde, Sopa de Fideo, Guisado de Seitan, Salsa Verde Casera, Sala Roja a la Horticulturelandia, Pico de Gallo a mi Gusto, Salsa Verde a la Horticulturelandia, Salsa Roja Guisada de Mama, Galletas de Avena y Platano, Capirotada, Pastel de Chocolate, Coctel de Frutas.

There’s also a flickr group where ppl can post pictures of the recipes they try, just search for “Vegan de Guadalupe Cookzine.”

Chinese Vegan Denied German Visa July 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 10:35 pm
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Via Animal Person: Xie Zheng — an officer of the Chinese Vegetarian Union, a rock musician, & a founder of the organization Don’t Eat Friends — was an invited delegate (the only one from China) to the International Vegetarian Union’s 38th World Vegetarian Congress, which began on July 27 in Dresden & is running until August 3.

However, the German embassy denied him a visa — it doesn’t seem to be clear why — & despite letters of support from noted veg*n activists in several countries, they refused to budge.

The Vegan Social Club of Beijing blog criticizes Germany’s decision:

After all, how often do idealistic young Chinese vegetarians get invited to Dresden by hundred-year-old European institutions to meet “the world”, play music and exchange ideas on peace? How often do Chinese individuals get portrayed positively in the European press? How often do European media have the chance to report positive, accurate stories about progressive areas like vegetarianism, non-violence and animal advocacy in China?

Let me make a wild guess: Not as often as a sort of faceless, impersonal “China” gets portrayed negatively and (almost always) inaccurately for a very narrow range of stereotypical “bad news” items.

And yet, when a real live Chinese idealist of impeccable ethics is invited by a venerable, century-old European institution, you’re not interested in enabling the world to hear that “good news” story.


Rep at APOC Gathering July 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 7:31 pm

There is an Anarchist People of Color Gathering in Philly in two weeks for all my fellow veg apocs in the Northeast.


Temporary Omnivores

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 5:57 pm
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I remember, what feels like forever ago, but was really 2003 or 2004, my vegetarian friend and I were talking about how we would eat meat if/when  we ever traveled to other places outside the US. Not to make excuses but I was only 14 or 15 when this happened. I understand now that this sort of position is both selfish, and based on exotifying fantasies that reduce entire cultures to their food. And since high school I’ve broken vedge (a word of mine– comes from hanging out with sxe kids in high school) 3 times. Thats what happens when one is vegan to be fashionable or loses track of why.

I’m surprised by this Temporary Omnivore who was feature in a NYT blog
. She was a vegetarian to protest the industrial process that creates meat, but it seems to reflect a sort of privilege and convenience more. She talks about how it is easier to be a vegetarian in the States than in Paris.

That statement just didn’t sit well with me. After thinking about it for a bit I remembered the story I relayed at the beginning of this post. She was exotifying the French and reducing an entire culture to their cuisine. Lets not forget that there are French vegetarian and vegans as well.

(Just to say the defense that the French have fewer factory farms seems weak to me– I doubt that makes the rabbits, chickens, hoses, cows etc. feel any better about being consumed.)

But another thought hit me– she seemed to be saying no one questioned her being vegetarian in the States since elementary school. That statement reveals a lot of racial and class-based privileges. See, growing up working class and black in the South meant a hell of a lot of awkward social situations (not to mention a slightly increased economic burden on my accommodating mother, for real keeping a 6’3″ teenage vegan full had to be hard). Family functions were slightly disastrous for me. Dishes consisted of meat, or vegetables cooked with animal broth. My vegetarianism and then veganism have faced challenges consistently. It wasn’t till I got to Vassar, where I have the privileges of being a student was my veganism not questioned as often.

So I have problems with temporary omnivore-ism because it reflects a hell of a lot of issues: exotification, cultural reductionism, laziness, etc. And it reminds me that I, at least, need to maintain a politicized veganism, after all its about the animals, and it also re-reminds me that all of our vegan experiences are affected by our differing subject positions and privileges that come from them.


Two Quick Links July 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 7:59 pm
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I have two or three posts that have been bubbling away in my brain for a while — hopefully I’ll get to writing up at least one of them soon — but I just wanted to pass on these links:

Via Noah, Dani at the Vegan Ideal has a sharp critique for the recent call for proposals about queers & AR. They bring up some really important points about the ties between the AR movement & the prison-industrial complex — probably not the ties you might expect — & how this impacts POCs & the poor.

Via Joselle, a post on Feministing about being a veg*n of color (which links here — thanks, Grace!), which also talks a little about Seoul in particular.


Mutt, Mulatto, Mule? July 24, 2008

Several months ago I attended a retreat for progressive multiracial activists. For three days I was surrounded by strong mixed-race men and women, queer, and straight, of all different ethnic, racial, class, and social backgrounds. The only thing we had in common was our mixed-race heritage interest in imagining an inclusive mixed-race anti-racist movement.

Now, when you have a whole bunch of mixed-folks together, one of the first questions is one of the lexicons used to refer to ourselves. Many of the people present didn’t like the use of the term “race,” as they argued that the word represents a white-supremacist notion that was used to project themselves at the top of racialized hierarchies. Clearly, this became a problem when trying to identify ourselves and experiences as different from what we affectionately referred to as “Euro-mutts” that entire weekend…

…which brings me to the point of this post. I’ve been thinking about the terms that people use for us mixed folks and see an interesting trend. People become violently upset at being called a mutt (generally used to refer to a non-pure bred dog), or mulatto, which, of course, stems from the Spanish mulato meaning mule; the hybrid of a horse and a donkey.

At the retreat, there were a couple of vegetarians, former vegetarians, pescatarians, and excuse-atarians, but no one who was really ready to willingly engage in the speciest and unproductive nature of becoming uncritically angry when likened to a non-human animal.

One of the most common hassles that mixed-folks have to deal with is a sense of “hybrid-vigor,” an idea that breeding across difference, as in the case with dogs, creates a stronger, and more attractive breed. Mules are said to have the strength of a horse with the intelligence of a donkey, inheriting each parent’s best characteristics. Even “America’s Next Top Model” tries to recruit models from “diverse backgrounds,” because of this idea of hybrid vigor and mixed-beauty.

Now, I understand that folks of color tend to be unwilling to identify with animals because of the intertwined legacies of racism and specieism in this world. I’ve spent some time thinking about what an anti-specieist analysis of the use of animal-derived terms to refer to mixed-folks would look like. I’m no biologist, but my conclusion has come to this:

Horses and donkeys are different species. Hell, dogs breeds are even called “species.” In the case of mules, their parents are different enough that together they can’t create a functional reproductive system; mules can’t bare offspring. Mixed-breed dogs might be able to reproduce, but a Chihuahua giving birth to a Great Dane’s offspring might not be so functional, if even possible. Humans, however, are Homo sapiens. Using animal names referring to mixed-SPECIES animals to refer to mixed-“race” people just becomes another example of the ways in which white supremacy functions to perpetuate a white-washed notion of worth and value. It’s you’re not human, you’re not valuable. If you’re not white, you’re not quite as human.

Just another instance of how specieism and racism operate in tandum, I suppose.


July 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — nosnowhere @ 10:58 pm

from thefreeslave:

I was evangelizing some brothers at work about veganism and it was so clear, there is a causal relationship between the casual callousness towards anything besides people and the casual callousness towards people that eventually rears its head.  It is impossible to feel compassion for humans and actively or passively brutalize animals – and NOT have that brutality seat itself in your soul.  Impossible.  But try telling that to someone who has bought the buffalo wing blinders…Impossible.