Vegans of Color

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

Four Recent Links August 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 12:18 pm
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Breeze Harper’s podcast is back, with a great episode on the links between speciesism & racism.

At the Vegan Ideal, Dani writes about whiteness & the AR2008 conference, linking to a post from a Rainforest Action Network attendee who notes:

the People of Color caucus that met earlier today asked to read a statement – calling for anti-oppression and anti-racist workshops at future AR conferences – and was denied the opportunity to speak.

In the comments of my post questioning the conference, it was suggested that bringing in race issues to AR spaces would be kind of a distraction from the real work of AR, something suggested more blatantly by folks responding to (& inspiring) this post.

pattrice jones is starting a Carnival Against Vivisection. The deadline for the first carnival is September 6th.

Josh of Herbivore talks about the (lack of) diversity in the models on the Herbivore site & what to do about it.


Our Bodies Are Battlefields August 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 11:30 am
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I’ve noticed a trend in debates about the naturalness of veg*nism. While they of course ignore the fact that naturalness is constructed; they also use the bodies of folks of color to legitimize their arguments on both sides.

People who argue that eating meat is natural utilize these primitivist fantasies of brown folks hunting large game, and living almost exclusively on meat. They paint pictures of Indigenous and African folks as meat eating savages, as primitive folks that prove the naturalness of a meat eating diet. This of course ignores common sense and knowledge. The fact that a large portion of our fruits and vegetables were developed by agriculturists in Africa and the Americas should smack in the face of such arguments that

And the pro-veg*nism arguments often invoke Asia, especially India and East Asia, as a site where veg*nism has always been the norm, homogenizing an entire continent. The arguments consist of detailing how natural the diet is because those people have been doing it forever, and it seems to have a bit of orientalist bent. Of course there are strong vegetarian currents within parts of Asia (but these don’t get included in very much veg*n history. I guess because it becomes constructed as religious and dehistoricized).

I figure this relates to the way veg*n history gets told. As was noted a while back on VoC, Vegan histories are often suspiciously White. People of color get relegated to a sort of vegan anthropology (that is we are used to help understand white folks and get dehistoricized), and are reduced to specimens to prove what works for the human body. Europe’s own traditions of both veg*nism and meat-eating become invisible, or not valid for arguments of naturalness. Folks of color, when used in these arguments are Othered, and reduced from peoplehood to human bodies.


Hip Hop and Food August 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 12:37 pm

It took me a long time to get into hip hop. I got into punk music in middle school, and didn’t expand outside of punk and its offspring until college. So as my ideas on oppression grew, so did my new found crush on hip hop. Anyways there are three hip hop songs that I have liked at some point involving food, so I thought I’d share.

Beef and Broccoli

Immortal Technique used to a big deal here at Vassar. We know how liberal art students love appropriation. I used to really like Immortal Technique– in a few choice songs. Now I feel his blatant misogyny and homophobia definitely aren’t worth his tired (but still solid) critiques of liberal capitalism and racism. Though I always was disappointed in Immortal Techniques inability to see veganism as revolutionary, I realize because it has a lot to do with the way other artists portray veganism.

Be Healthy

Like Dead Prez. I love Dead Prez, and who can deny that lentil soup is mental fruit. Though this is one of their most apolitical songs, it still makes veganism sound so good.

Hood Diet

This is my new favorite song about food. A song about food justice– hell yes. By Loer Velocity featuring Donnan Linkz.


Keeping the Species Pure

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 9:39 am
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This post has very little to do with what is happening in the world of today, and perhaps I spend too much time thinking about the future, but this post is going to be a bit speculative. I’ve thought a bit about chimeras, specifically parahumans, for quite awhile. Basically since I heard about the rabbit/human embryo in China back in 2003. But I stumbled on stuff about it again this weekend, and the stuff freaked me out.
I’m not freaked out about the idea of human/non-human hybrids– I’ve accepted that they may very well one day share this planet with us. I’m more freaked out by the way people talk about them. I’m not the only one who takes this seriously– in 2005 the Brownback Bill, also known as the Human Chimera Prohibition Act of 2005, was in Congress. What the bill, and a lot of people are saying has a subtext of keeping the species pure. These hybrids are called subhuman (Why would we call them that?). There is a fear that if this happens we won’t be able to judge what is human and not. People really seem to hate the idea of a spectrum.
But why would people want to create chimeras— from what I’ve read it nowadays falls into medical research. The fact that animals aren’t great for vivisection cause some scientists to mix them with human DNA. And also there is the fact that in a speciesist world these chimeras if they ever come to exist as parahumans would be used for expendable tasks.
The thing is these chimeric beings could already exist, in a way. After all scientists have been putting human genes in animals for years– who knows what effects that has that we don’t know. There’s a scientist now that wants to replicate a human brain in mice. And people have been trying to make hybrids forever: there was ol’ Ivanov who spent his life trying to create human/ape hybrid soldiers for Stalin (using black and brown folks to mix with the apes). Thank god Ivanov didn’t have today’s knowledge of genetics.
So this fear of chimeras is based on speciesist claims that basically rely on a human supremacist view of the world, and animals. And the pro-chimera side is based on a speciesist, human supremacist claim to animals, and the ability to use them. As people who recognize the intersectionality of oppressions I feel we are in a unique place to think about the condition that these (for now) theoretical parahumans would be in. Besides the fact that the claims made now mirror (largely) outdated ideas about race, racial mixing, and using folks of color for medical research.


Young Folks and Intersectionality August 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 6:53 pm
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Josh over at Vegan Metal Bike Dad Punk Blog has posted two posts detailing his frustrations with this “I Hate Kids” mentality that is pervasive in the vegan community. Some people have responded harshly (sort of an understatement) to his assertation that it is a form of bigotry, and people disagree (saying that is a personal preference). And some dislike his comparison of saying “I hate kids” is like saying “I hate people of color.” I personally think that it was a valid comparison– as much as one can compare such things, after all both bigotries have different histories.

What I found interesting was the way the arguments against giving a shit about ageism (or not acknowledging that they are ageist) are damn near identical to the arguments white vegans give about not caring about racism.

To me, being a vegan entails compassion and non-abuse towards animals. Not people, big or small, but animals. “Don’t have choices, don’t have conscience”, proliferated for use and gain animals. En masse.

People require, and receive, a completely different approach from me, on the basis of their personal merit.     –monia, leaving a comment @ ppk

Fuck worrying about other systems of oppression, lets worry about individuals. Despite the fact that this same person, and others, grouped all children together and cast judgement. People will fight for their right to hate children. Also, the thing that really put me on edge was how somehow these same sorts of folks will make connections between their veganism and their childlessness due to some idea of the world being overpopulated. See I know the overpopulation argument is steeped in racist, malthusian logic.

But even some of thew ones who were pro-children made an argument that I hear vegans use for other oppressed groups. The [insert group of people here] are animals too– so I care argument. Maybe I just don’t understand why some vegans have to spin it that way– instead of just caring because other people are beings with desires and interests who deserve respect.

What are your thoughts?


Limitations are in the Eye of the Beholder

Filed under: vegan — Kanika Ameerah @ 11:23 am

Not too long ago, I was discussing moving to Europe with a friend of mine when the subject of food came up.  I said (jokingly) that my one regret in life is that I wouldn’t get a chance to try out black pudding while I am in the UK.  In response, my friend said something to the effect of her needing to be “open minded” to trying new things and that veg*nism limits this.

Like the title of the post states, this comment irritated me to no end.  The old assumption that veganism = being restricted in some way, is a major thorn in my side.  It implies that the only way that one can have a worldly palate is if they ate meat.   

Admittedly, most eateries where I live (outside of NYC) are not vegetarian friendly, let alone vegan.  And the few menu options they have for veg*ns usually consist of a wilted green salad, greasy fries, or a soggy veggie burger.  Because of this, I’m usually left to using my imagination to create a halfway decent dish while eating out.  However, I really don’t see myself as “limited” or “closed-off” in any way.  While I really wish that more restaurants here in Westchester had more veg-friendly options on their menu, the opportunity of improvising my own meal is actually quite refreshing. 

During my omnivore days, it was easy for me to just order any chicken, seafood or beef dish on the menu…There was no real motivation for me to cook homemade meals or to even try out different cuisines since I had the convenience of living in a society that mostly ate as I did.  When I became vegetarian two years ago, I had no choice but to start cooking at home.  And with that, I began expanding my cooking creativity in ways as I never have before…Discoveries of new ingredients even perked up old favourites. As I slowly worked veganism into my diet, this even perked up things in the kitchen even more, even with the simple things.  Had I not looked for a suitable replacement for honey, I would not have found agave nectar, which adds awesome flavour to my tea…Soon, I’ll be buying an ice cream maker to make soy ice cream, and who knows what kind of frozen treats will come out of it. 

The irony of that comment is that I tend to have the most difficult time cooking for omnivore friends, as that they are not willing to try Indian food, hate mushrooms, soy, certain vegetables & spices is allergic to this/that, etc…You can go down the list of things that they won’t eat (except for the usual meat-and-potatoes).  So whenever I cook for my friends or family,  I just stick to mock meats.

However, because a vegan does not eat animal products, they are seen to be limited in what they eat.   How is that?   Perhaps, limitations are in the eye of the beholder…

Maybe one day the culinary school trained chefs and restauranteurs in my neck of the woods will come up with new and exciting dishes that will excite the palate of even the most hardcore carnivore…But in the meantime I am going to surf the internet for new recipes…Any suggestions? 🙂


Farm Sanctuary’s Walk For Farm Animals August 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kanika Ameerah @ 3:07 pm

For those interested in participating, here’s the 411 on the walk and Farm Sanctuary via its website:

Farm Sanctuary is the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the “food animal” industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, New York, and Orland, Calif., provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming. The Walk for Farm Animals helps fund and raise awareness about these vital, education and advocacy efforts.

Walks occur throughout the country every fall – on or around October 2 – in honor of World Farm Animals Day. They are generally three to six miles in length (five to 10 kilometers) and held in public parks.

Here’s a list of dates and locations where the Walk for Farm Animals will be held…If there’s not one in your area, and you’d like to organise one, email for more information.


“Vegans Eat Like the Poor People of the World”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 2:25 pm

Sometime in my life (rather soon), I would like to give birth to a child. In April of 2008, I had been searching for midwifery service for about 7 months. In April, I left a message for a midwifery practice.

Within the same day, one of the midwives called me back. She basically told me that it’s too dangerous to be a vegan, while pregnant, because it will destroy my body and I will become anemic, protein deficient, and calcium deficient. She said I can’t get what I need, through non-animal based products. The BABY would be fine, because all the nutrients I’d be eating would go toward the baby. She says I would be stripped of my own nutrients, lose muscle mass and calcium from my bones. I honestly do not understand why I can’t get what I need through nuts, grains, seeds, and beans, in terms of protein. And if I get 26 mg of Iron per day, by drinking two shots of wheatgrass, drinking nettles leaf powder every day, and taking in 1 tablespoon of a mixture of spirulina and blue green algae, how would I become anemic? And if I’m taking 600 mg of DHA vegan sourced pills per day, 3-4 TBSP of Omega 3-6-9 oils, and then taking 1200 mg of a Calcium supplement (in addition to drinking Kale) everyday, how would this not be sufficient? A cup of lentils has 40 g of Protein in it. Kidney beans has 48 and is a complete protein. Tempeh is amazing. What is wrong with these particular protein sources? A cup of quinoa gives me 87% of the iron I need for the day. Why is this “not as good” as a steak?

Since I’m severely lactose intolerant, how would I be able to drink and eat a bunch of dairy products, “for my calcium”, without making myself sick?

I take plant based 100% organic mutli-vitamin, every day. This company also makes a pre natal formula that is 100% without animal products. It would give me everything I should need that is whole foods sourced (not synthetic).

This midwife told me that vegans have come to her, while pregnant, and that it was VERY difficult for them to not become anemic or protein deficient. I don’t understand this “belief” and “statement”, as there are many who have had healthy pregnancies as vegans and or raw foodists. I’m very confused and a little shocked that , in Berkeley, this midwife is so convinced that a vegan pregnancy is DANGEROUS. I say this because the East Bay Area of Cali is known for having a high population of alternative foodies that “appreciate” that not everyone wants to eat the SAD.

And what I find startling, is that there are PLENTY of omnivorous females who also have nutritional deficiencies during their pregnancies (and I know there are plenty WHO DO NOT). There are plenty of omnivorous females that are anemic, during pregnancy who eat animal products… This makes no sense to me that a vegan pregnancy CANNOT be successful, as long as I pay attention and eat what I need to eat.

Oh, and the midwife told me that vegans eat like the “poor people in the world”. She associated that those who are “poor and malnourished in the world” are “like vegans”. I’m not making this sh*t up. Once again, how the hell does a STRONG MUSCULAR horse become healthy? How does its body not become deficient, while going through a vegan/herbivorous pregnancy? It’s an herbivore and the animal is fine. It gets what it needs through plant based diet… And what about a strong powerful elephant? Wow, they’re herbivores too! And if people eat cows to get protein and iron, how does the COW get it? Well, last time I checked- and before they were imprisoned in the Agricultural Industrial Complex- cows ate plants all day! Wow, a cow gets its iron and protein from plants! And then human beings eat the cow to get the nutrients that the cow got, through grazing… Am I not making any sense here? I’m just really shocked by the conclusions that this midwife has drawn.

All this time, I had embraced a whole foods vegan diet to combat the crazy health disparities in the Black community in the USA. It was as if my diet, in her eyes, was “irresponsible”– even though it was how I have decided to shrink (over 70% it has dereased) my uterine fibroid (which are over 3x more prevalent in the black female u.s. community). I’ve also “cured” my “incurable” eczema and asthma. Amazing that this isn’t “proof” enough that a well-planed vegan diet would be optimal for pregnancy.


Breeze Harper


The Exotifying Gaze August 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:02 pm
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During IBARW, I came across this great post from a Chinese-Anglo woman living in Australia about “ethnic” food, & the misuse of the word “ethnic,” which I also happen to hate:

I read Jay Rayner’s attempt at a week of veganism, where he suggests that “ethnic is the default position for the vegan.” I bet he uses ‘exotic’ ingredients in his cooking, too. I have an ethnicity; we all have ethnicities: the fact that the food I grew up with is easier to veganise than the stuff he ate as a child doesn’t make me ‘ethnic,’ it makes me Chinese. Using these words trivializes the decision I have made to be vegan, and it others my family and my whole freaking life, because using words like that aren’t just saying that I’m ‘different,’ they’re saying that I’m ‘other.’ And he is not alone in this, many people are guilty of this all the time. That you’re trying something you’ve never before heard of doesn’t make it ‘exotic,’ it makes it new to you. And you definitely don’t get to describe it as exotic if you’re talking about it on the internet – there’s a good chance it’s not new to your readers. Just because the things I did as a child are different doesn’t make me special, and I certainly don’t want to feel like a freak. And I realise it’s just semantics but semantics are important, because they indicate attitudes – so really, it’s not that I have a problem with the word ‘exotic,’ it’s that I have a problem with the attitude that leads to its use, that the food I eat is ‘not normal,’ that it is other, that I am other. (emphasis mine)

I am really uncomfortable with how a lot of vegan cooking is described as “exotic” (to whom?). It assumes so much about the audience racially & culturally, & as well is loaded with really creepy connotations — the exotic is there to be conquered, mastered; it’s there purely to titillate your (white/Western/etc.) self (which also implies that white people have no culture — a convenient excuse used by people participating in cultural appropriation, but not actually true). It’s a “safe” way to imagine you’re experiencing other cultures without, you know, having to do that pesky thing known as actually engaging with the people whose cultures you’re attempting to eat via their food.

Today I was listening to an interview with a vegan cookbook author (whose cookbook has the word “exotic” in the subtitle). One of the “exotic” recipes she mentioned was mofongo… which I’m guessing probably isn’t exotic, oh, if you’re Puerto Rican.

I also was killing time browsing vegan cookbooks in a bookstore & flipped through Skinny Bitch in the Kitch out of a morbid curiosity. What kind of audience are they catering to, with bits like this, from a chapter called International Bitch, I wonder:

You can totally pretend to be cooler and worldlier than you actually are. Just make one of these global goodies:

  • Falafel
  • Japanese Soba Noodles with Steamed Vegetables and Tofu
  • Potato and Pumpkin Curry with Brown Basmati Rice
  • Pad Thai
  • Veggie Enchiladas

    now some love August 14, 2008

    Filed under: vegan — Noemi M @ 1:50 pm
    Tags: , , ,

    isn’t it nice when your non-vegan family think about you?