Vegans of Color

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

Living Humanely in an Inhumane World… September 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kanika Ameerah @ 9:32 am

The other day I sucked myself into the never-old “vegan cat” debate (for the record, I am vehemently opposed to feeding cats vegan food, but that’s not here nor there). During this discussion, one person brought up the point that dozens of animals are made to suffer for the life of one cat, which had me thinking of a million other points…

When I chose to take in my feline friend, I promised to take care of him to the best of my ability. And that included feeding him food that would best nourish his body…Admittedly, I am not thrilled about the fact that his canned food consists of animals that were tortured & killed in factory farms, but it’s not the only situations that comes to mind when I think of suffering & consumption. I am not particularly thrilled that many animals were tested on and killed so I can take medicine to relieve my ails. Or that the produce I eat may have been picked by the hands of day labourers who are exploited by big businesses. And it doesn’t particularly please me to think that the clothes on my back and/or the doll I bought my niece for her 2nd birthday could have been made by a person working in the worst of conditions. But unfortunately, that is the reality of the situation. There is someone out there suffering just so that we can live with the basics (save my niece’s doll, that is). And it doesn’t have to be this way…

Another issue I struggle with is trying to live humanely when times aren’t prosperous. While I do my best to buy fair trade and organic foods as much as possible, I have found myself shopping in Wal*Mart during tight times. I know many people are vehemently opposed to Wal*Mart. I, on the other hand, can’t fault one for doing what they must. If one is on a shoestring budget (and have a large family), Wal*Mart is one of those stores that will get them by in a pinch. Even with that knowledge, I often wonder to myself how do we survive during economic challenges and try to live humanely?

Even if we got rid of Wal*Mart today, it would only serve as a band-aid on a gushing wound. Chances are there is blood, sweat & tears on most of our everyday items, no matter where they’re purchased. There is much we can do as conscious consumers to not support suffering, however we can’t starve or go naked until everyone behaves consciously. So how do we live humanely in an inhumane world? Is it even possible in this lifetime?


Humane Society Endorses Obama September 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kanika Ameerah @ 3:02 pm
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Here’s an exerpt of HSLF President Mike Markarian’s blog entry dated 9/22/08:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a solid supporter of animal protection at both the state and federal levels. As an Illinois state senator, he backed at least a dozen animal protection laws, including those to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty, to help animal shelters, to promote spaying and neutering, and to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.  In the U.S. Senate, he has consistently co-sponsored multiple bills to combat animal fighting and horse slaughter, and has supported efforts to increase funding for adequate enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and federal laws to combat animal fighting and puppy mills.

In his response to the HSLF questionnaire, he pledged support for nearly every animal protection bill currently pending in Congress, and said he will work with executive agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to make their policies more humane. He wrote of the important role animals play in our lives, as companions in our homes, as wildlife in their own environments, and as service animals working with law enforcement and assisting persons with disabilities. He also commented on the broader links between animal cruelty and violence in society.

(emphasis mine)

I have many thoughts swimming in my head over this issue, but no words to express them so far…What is your take on this?


Counterfeit Goods Not Vegan September 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 9:29 pm
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VeganShoeLady says knockoffs aren’t vegan:

…no matter how fake the leather/fur/wool/silk might be…. In recent years, most knockoff goods have been made in shady conditions (read: sweatshops), often by child workers. In Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, Dana Thomas describes an account of Thai children whose legs were broken to keep them from going outside to play while they were supposed to be making fake handbags…. Being vegan is about reducing suffering. When you buy fakes, you are giving your money to people who are actively making the world worse.


More on Colonialist Framings of Animal Issues

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 8:20 pm
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Via Dani at the Vegan Ideal, Fair Weather Vegan writes about racist programming on Animal Planet. Here’s a snippet particularly relevant to my recent post about colonialist framings of Japanese dolphin slaughter:

It goes without saying that no one should shoot or otherwise be cruel to a dog, and that endangered species should be protected and nurtured. It is also probably true that Caucasians are currently overrepresented in the animal-based professions in America and Europe, just as they are overrepresented in the professions generally. PBS, which is usually pretty attuned to racial representation, shows a lot of whites on its nature programs too. But there are ways to present a certain unbalanced reality in ways that do not normalize or exacerbate it (and there is a large international population of animal professionals of color to be portrayed as well). Perpetuating colonialist notions of an ignorant and cruel populace, whether foreign or domestic, completely ignores contextual realities that might actually help solve the problem if they are acknowledged. (emphasis mine)


Just a shout out

Filed under: vegan — minneapoliseoul @ 3:04 pm

I apologize for not blogging here in so long. Adjusting to life in Seoul is taking a while! But I want you to know, whoever you are that reads this, that I am bit by bit collecting knowledge and information on great places to eat and shop in Seoul as a vegan. I think the reputation that certain cities like Seoul are to be avoided as vegans is not good, so I will try on my own blog to post more information about what I’m discovering and finding here!


“Anyone should be able to tell other countries NOT to eat creatures” September 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 9:09 pm
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Remember Kinship Circle’s colonialist campaign to get Western vegans to tell Korea & the Philippines to cease the dog meat trade? (There’s also a follow-up post.)

I see echoes of this same thinking in a recent post on Vegan Verve. After writing about Japanese dolphin slaughter, the blogger received a comment noting that in the US, lots of animals are slaughtered for food, sometimes in “crazy” ways. And furthermore:

Just because the Japanese are particularly exotic, particularly non-Western, we think we can criticize their traditions when it comes to food. They shouldn’t be eating dolphin or whale because, according to our Western upbringing, those are not animals that are to be eaten. The Koreans shouldn’t be eating dog, and the Chinese shouldn’t be eating anything that moves.

What the Japanese do when it comes to whales and dolphins is cruel and horrible, and poses a serious threat to the continuation of certain species (they overfish a lot too; global tuna populations, other fish are in trouble too), but there is a cultural angle too, and I don’t think it’s our place to tell them what they shouldn’t be eating. Hopefully before too long some groups will arise within Japan to protest this – when Japanese tell Japanese not to hunt and kill dolphins this way, and that they refuse to eat whale or dolphin, then things can change. (emphasis mine)

This, as you may recall, was my point in the earlier post about Kinship Circle: we in the West feel it’s our high-and-mighty duty to go & tell other countries, with which we have had an adversarial & racist relationship, what to do. Instead of listening to local activists & supporting them if & when they request it (& in the manner they request), US activists love to barge in, without thought to cultural context or self-determination & autonomy for folks in the countries they’re horning in on. (& yeah, go figure, the whole exotification thing makes it a lot easier to point fingers at OMG those weird savage people!)

In response to the commenter’s critique, the blogger replies:

Actually I quite disagree with you. I do believe that anyone should be able to tell other countries NOT to eat creatures, OF ANY KIND. Being vegan, I don’t quite understand why you would base your response on game meat in the U.S. and non-Western countries. Do you honestly believe that I am not against ALL animals being eaten?

Sigh. Gosh, do you honestly believe that I’m not against animals being eaten, either? And yet, I still find this quote incredibly offensive. Go figure.

The blogger also wonders:

Why the hell are there so many damn delicacies in Japan and other similar countries, and why do they mainly focus around poor animals? Does the United States have supposed delicacies that I am not aware of?

How about foie gras, among other “damn delicacies” eaten in the US? Many US vegans are aware of foie gras & legislative campaigns to outlaw it, for example. & what does “similar countries” mean? Scary “exotic” countries? Where people eat kerrrrrrazy things, unlike the US? What?


“Africa” For Sale September 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joselle @ 3:53 pm

This one will be hard to believe but American Apparel, with its bevy of underwear clad, vacant-staring models and a shady CEO, has some offensive ads out. The latest campaign is for their new line of hipster wares, simply titled “Afrika.” 

Tami of What Tami Said writes about the problem with these ads:

“The problem is distilling a continent of many countries, cultures, languages and peoples down to its wildlife and faux tribal print…

“When was the last time you saw a fashion collection of brown bear fur and Celtic prints labeled “Europe!” No one would buy a pan-European marketing ploy that blended Irish culture with prints from animals found in upper Scandinavia and Russia. Such a thing would be foolish. But no one can be bothered to know the difference between Zambia and Mauritania.”

Earlier this week, I saw another retailer selling “Africa” via a post on Swanky Veg, which sang the praises of Saint Francis Couture, a retail website that, as far as I can tell, specializes in horrifically tacky accessories. Even as a vegan, I do think a touch of leopard print can be stylish. It is, however, vastly problematic when the height of vegan fashion looks like an exhibit from the Museum of Natural History (veganism and the use of faux fur and animal skins is for another post). Saint Francis Couture states that they are “proud to present the cruelty-free Africa Collection.” Because nothing quite says “Africa” and “cruelty-free” like swaths of animal print and faux leather. And nothing signifies an entire continent like a couple of zebra-print hands bags kissed with fake gold.

Once again, Africa–a continent–is easily reduced to a few old stereotypes and exotified for profit. Additionally, by signifying animals who are routinely slaughtered and enslaved in zoos and circuses the world over, Saint Francis Couture is selling items that meet only the most superficial definition of vegan. By not extending its cruelty-free vision to the people or animals of the continent it is distorting and appropriating from, the veganism perpetuated on this retail site is simplistic and myopic.

H/T to newdemographic on Twitter, otherwise known as Carmen Van Kerckhove of Racialicious.


What do McCain and Palin Mean for VOCs?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 12:21 pm

I will not to get distracted about the whole Bristol Palin pregnancy thing. There are more things that I’m concerned with.

What I am concerned about is that if Palin/McCain wins, what will it mean for those of us involved with animal rights movement as well as holistic health and planted-based dietary eating? May be I am paranoid here, but I wonder if McCain and Palin would actually try to make it an act of “terrorism” if US Citizens do not subscribe to biopharmeceutical “remedies”, do not subscribe to a carni-centric diets, etc. After all, this could be perceived as an act of terrorism against good ole American businesses that rely on exploitation of non-human animals, degradation of our landbase, and exploitation of so many people’s fear and misinformation around “health” and “food”. Would we be seen as “the enemy”?

I know with the Bush administration, the AR movement is considered domestic terrorism already. Just something to think about, especially since so many of us rely on “alternative” forms of food and healing in our lives.


Vegan Hip Hop Movement September 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 4:55 pm

My dear friend Kevin Tillman, founder of the Vegan Hip Hop Movement Website has an amazing new interview on Animal Voices. I think it’s timely, as he mentions the inter-connectedness of oppressions… He also mentions the social injustices around “illegal” immigrants working in USA meat-packing plants.

Here is the synopsis of the show that Animal Voices provides from their page:

Listen in as we connect with Kevin Tillman, founder of the Vegan Hip Hop Movement website and promoter of all things people, animal, and earth-friendly. In this interview, Kevin takes us back to the roots of hip hop, and offers us insight into its message of empowerment that arose within the South Bronx and continues to inspire communities internationally. Indivisible from that resistant history, the world of vegan hip hop raises its voice for humans and nonhumans alike.

Engaging issues related to consumerism, colonialism, racism, animal exploitation, among others, the vegan hip hop movement cultivates a holistic anti-oppression approach that pushes veganism and animal rights to go further, while also urging hip hop to broaden its scope. Tune in to hear some fine tracks from vegan hip hop artists, and tap into a movement that shakes it all up.


Children of Color & Meat Processing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 12:50 am

Apparently a meat-processing plant is under fire for having 32 child employees. They also happened to be “illegal-immigrant” children according to the article. Sigh.