Vegans of Color

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

Colonial Fruits August 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 2:16 pm
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So my last post, and the comments in it, got me thinking about how my veggies and things come to me. It’s pretty convenient to be a vegan nowadays– I can’t gauge how hard it was years ago, I haven’t been buying my own food long enough, but it is really easy to be vegan right now. Part of that is the fact that in most of this country there is a huge variety of produce, and produce that is available year round.

This is a post with a lot of questions.

And of course part of this variety is due to our ever globalizing world, which also means a world with a history (and present) of colonialism. I don’t know how much neo/colonial trade routes have to do with the production of my vegetables (at least during some parts of the year), but I know there is some major colonial undertones to the production of my fruit. Most of my favorite fruits are of the tropical variety, which of course means they come from the Global South.

See, in my ideal world, where these colonial relationships don’t exist, and capitalism is dead there is no way I could get my favorite fruits. So I’m wondering– how should I interpret my consumption of, what I now think of as colonial fruits. Outside of Southern California and Hawai’i (definitely colonial type relationships there) there is really nowhere that someone could grow coconuts and mangoes and banana and papaya and all those other fruits I love. I know colonialism isn’t exactly dead either, so how do I know that the fruit I purchased is even fair to the brown and black folks that grow them (curses to Late Capitalism btw). Also considering what I now know about some palm oil, I also can’t ignore the ecological effects of what I eat, and I have no clue how my favorite fruits are produced.

Also this means that historical colonialism, and most probably contemporary colonialism, make my being vegan easier. Another privilege of being a vegan in the Global North seems to be this privilege of trade.

So what is a vegan who takes a stand against racism and colonialism to do?