Vegans of Color

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

A New Type of ‘Painting’ February 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — supernovadiva @ 7:37 pm

Ok this happened to me last summer, but I still have flashbacks of it. Don’t read this if you’re eating. I’ve enrolled my daughter in an early reading program at the library. Once a week they have a special guest to give lessons, be it puppets, safety etc. Well this time it was a rep. from a nature center. She was teaching the kids about insects. All well and good. There were handouts. Cool. But then she got to the project. The tables were covered and there was paint, so I thought my daughter was going to have some fun. I brought us closer to the table. The lady got out this container and told us we were going to dip maggots in the paint and let them crawl across the paper. SAY WHAT? I grabbed my daughter’s hand and slowly made our way to the outer limits of the group. I saw the faces of the other adults. They were not for this. What was bad is that most of kids were from a daycare on a library field trip. They were stuck. I can tell they, to be polite and pass the time until their bus came back, followed through with the project (only the 5- 8 year olds participated (summer program)). The nature rep. tried to assure us they weren’t dirty maggots since they grew in the center, not from the trash. Whatever lady. As I walked further away I heard her instruct the kids to be careful with them because she’s going to wash them off and use them for next time. NEXT TIME?!

I will save you some of the thoughts that went through my head because it fails in the language department (I pretty much used them all lol). I even whispered to the librarian, who also looked concerned, that the lady might as well suggest pulling roaches off the wall, dip them in paint and let them crawl as a home project.

First thing I asked in my head was “Did this lady bother to research her audience?” but then maybe I’m putting my neighborhood in a stereotype. I wouldn’t come up to a bunch of black/latino people and say, “Hey, let’s paint with maggots!” Then to I wouldn’t say that to anybody else, because that’s not how I party.

What are we teaching our children? There was no lesson in this at all. The prizes for the reading logs were animal based: circus tickets, free burgers and such (sponsor based). And now maggot painting.

I should note that at the end NOBODY took their paintings home.

Apparently this is a growing trend:
Here’s a nice video demo for you:


VegNews: Making The “Exotic” Safe For Privileged Western Vegans

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 12:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

VegNews is offering a “Great Adventure” to “exotic India.” Let’s take a look at the itinerary.

You’ll start off in Delhi, which they describe as “[r]uled by Hindus, Muslims and eventually the British” — & oh yeah, now India is actually an independent country, but the badly-written sentence doesn’t mention what happened after the British. Who cares, right?

Also scheduled is a visit to Jaipur, which “has intrigued and seduced travelers, wanderers, caravans and traders throughout history.” Yes, OOOOH EXOTIC. There you’ll “have dinner with a local family” for that oh-so-authentic touch of “traditional warm Rajasthani hospitality”. (I am reminded of how Thailand’s tourist industry bills it as the “Land of Smiles,” & how the Philippines is often referred to as full of friendly, helpful people. Shall we examine what might incentivize such behavior? Shall we look at what might motivate the West to view certain nations in these terms?)

You’ll also do yoga, by the way — I suppose you might be familiar with it since it’s such the rage in the West among health-conscious types like vegans. But I bet it’ll be even more enlightening when you do it in India!

Journeying to a “rustic yet charming” village, you’ll also enjoy traditional folk dancing & even stay with a Raja & his family in their palace! Because they’re the “long time friends” of the tour operators — I am sure the lure of commerce has nothing to do with why they might be hosting you!

In case you were possibly feeling a bit conflicted about your role as a rich Western tourist, never fear; after enjoying the Raja’s hospitality you’ll then head “to a local village school to donate, on behalf of the group, much needed school supplies and books and where [you’ll] be welcomed as honored guests of the students and teachers who have a special surprise waiting.” Phew! Nothing like a bit of band-aid charity to soothe the tourist soul (but make them earn it! Sure hope that surprise is a good one!). Then your conscience will be clear before that night’s attendance at an “auspicious Hindu ceremony.”

To continue with the extra-special-authentic nature of the trip, you’ll also visit a Bishnoi village. Bishnois are vegetarians & “many of their villages, like the one [you’ll] be visiting today – look quite similar to the way they have looked for hundreds of years.” Yay! Western tourists love to see earthy primitive brown people living like they have for hundreds of years! It’s so quaint! You’ll get to visit a village girls’ school & then enjoy a farewell party that the Raja’s family will throw in your honor — purely out of his affection for you, no doubt.

Next stop Udaipur, where you’ll traipse through “one of the five holiest sites in the Jain religion.” Don’t worry, I’m sure the temple is completely as it was before hordes of tourists started coming through! It will all still be totally authentic!

After some time at an animal sanctuary (that part does sound good), you’ll be off for a cooking class — so even after you return home, you can still have a bit of the Other with you whenever you want to cook an exotic dinner! Then yet more yoga & authentic folk music & dance as your trip winds down.

What’s that? Your luggage has exceeded the weight restriction for the airline? Well, yeah. Your Western cultural & financial privilege makes for a pretty heavy load.

(… & if anyone is going to comment suggesting that the point of this post is that no one should travel anywhere, then you’ve vastly missed the actual point of this post, so don’t bother.)


Let’s make some noise for the Sistah Vegan anthology! February 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:18 pm

Hey folks — I hope you’ve all checked out the videos Breeze posted a few days ago about Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society (which comes out very soon, in March!).

There are also two upcoming Sistah Vegan appearances:

April 10, 2010: GreenFest San Francisco
May 20, 7:30PM: Berkeley, CA at Pegasus Books

Readers of this blog & the Sistah Vegan blog will have already seen Breeze’s thoughtful & powerful posts. This anthology is sure to be full of more of the same — & will definitely provide a perspective that is much-needed but sadly too often absent from vegan circles.

I’m sure Breeze would love to hear about other places that might like to host a book release party for her (which should be everywhere, really). Ideas?

And online? Does anyone want to do a reading group for the book? Maybe posts here with quotes/points for discussion (sorta kinda like this post, which I found useful even before I read the book)? Or maybe you all could do that on your blogs too!

(Sadly due to extreme penny-pinching at the moment I don’t anticipate being able to get my hands on the book as soon as it comes out & so would be unlikely to start a timely discussion here — but maybe one of the other bloggers here might? & I hope to see discussions sprouting up elsewhere too.)

I am really excited about this book & I know a lot of you are too — I’m hoping the anthology gets the attention & consideration it deserves.


Sistah Vegan book: Breeze Speaks on Video February 20, 2010

Filed under: vegan — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 12:40 pm

As the Sistah Vegan book release approaches, I wanted to speak about the journey I had with the Sistah Vegan project and the book. Below are two videos. I think it captures my voice better than the usual “writing thing” that I do with this blog.




Against Cultural Day-Tripping February 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:40 pm

(I was going to start this post with some vaguely sarcastic line about how it’s all exotic all the time around here lately, but… it’s blatantly clear that some readers DO just come here to gawk at the weirdo non-white vegans & their weirdo ways. Which, by the way, fuck you.)

Ida over at The Vegan Ideal posts about vegan cultural tourism, something I, & many of the bloggers here, have witnessed countless times:

A few months ago I got an email announcing a vegetarian get together at a Cambodian restaurant. Eating food associated with Cambodian culture is a perfectly valid basis for a vegetarian gathering, and I’m totally in favor of having an event at a place like a Cambodian restaurant. But what struck me was how the event was advertised as a “foray” into the food of Cambodian culture.

She describes why this terminology is offensive & potentially alienating to those who are not white/Anglo/Western, & also notes that the very idea of a “foray” into another culture presumes that “after the evening out, attendees are expected to go back to eating “normal” (Western) vegetarian food.”

In other words, it’s fun to see how wacky brown people live for a meal (because you can really tell from one meal, of course!), & then everyone (again, an assumed white/Western/Anglo “everyone”) goes back to their “normal” lives.


Critical Race and Veg*n Studies Intersect: Research Group February 11, 2010

Filed under: vegan — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 2:28 pm

I would like to formally invite people to apply to be part of new research group on ning (online network and community)  Critical Race and Veg*n Studies Intersect ( that has two goals:

(1) This is for those of us conducting research that looks at the convergence/intersections of critical race/critical whiteness and veg*nism studies. This group is for anyone doing research/writing and they do not need to be affiliated with a university. I am hoping this network will provide a space for us to share the work we are doing, mentor each other, and review articles and manuscripts in process. I am inviting people to apply who are specifically working on critical engagement with veganism from a critical race perspective (anti-racism, anti-colonialism, racialization, racisms, decolonial theories, critical race feminisms are included in this, as well as how theories of race and vegan studies converge with anti-sexism, non-human animal studies, globalization, LGBTQ, disability studies, and class studies).

(2) I have also put this network together to ultimately create an edited volume called Critical Race and Veg*n Studies Intersect. I am hoping people accepted into this group will be interested in contributing to this volume.  For those not contributing a piece, I still invite folk to be part of this private community to help brainstorm with ideas about the format, content, and promotion of the book project. I imagine the volume to be written in a way that is supportive of those who choose to practice veg*nism (as one does not have to be a veg*n to contribute, but I do ask that they are supportive of those who do practice veg*nism), but also critiques veg*nism in a way that productively opens up spaces to dialogue around underrepresented issues such as white privilege, whiteness, 1st Worldism, anti-racism, racialized colonialism’s legacies on food philosophy, and similar.

The book probably wouldn’t come out until 2012, as I’m in the midst of trying to finish my PhD for 2011. There is no rush.

You can apply to be part of this group by sending me the following:

  • Name
  • Organizational Affiliation (If you are independent then write that)
  • URL and email address
  • Research Interests
  • Some titles of works you have written and/or writing (they can be published as well as unpublished papers your have writtenl)
  • Other forms of media that are not formal papers you’ve created that critically convey your research, such as music, film, dance, painting, etc.
  • Any other information you feel is pertinent

Send this information to .



Filipino vegan food in Oakland, CA (USA) February 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:39 pm

I think I first stumbled upon No Worries Catering online a while ago, but as it was unclear whether they were still in existence & I’ve never lived near Oakland, CA, it slipped my mind. (EDIT: I may have also been confusing them w/a Filipino vegetarian restaurant somewhere in CA that I think closed a while ago — I’ve never lived anywhere in CA so it probably all went into the “you can’t go there anyway” part of my brain!)

However, this Filipino vegan catering business is alive & well, with a sleek website & the news that, starting in April, they’ll be selling food at the Jack London Square Market.

Color me jealous! If any local Pin@ys out there are reading (or anyone else, of course), why not try them out & report back?

Also, I LOVE that No Worries’ tagline (at the top of your browser when you’re on their site) is “Have you eaten?” Because as some of us know, “Did you eat?” means “I love you”.


Vegan cookbooks: helping folks eat the Other

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 7:32 am

I’ve written before about exotification in discussions around vegan food, but it’s something I’m always thinking about & that has come up a lot lately. This year I’ve set myself a goal to cook at least one recipe from the many cookbooks I own. Hence I’ve been scouring them more than usual.

Has anyone else noticed that a staple of many a vegan cookbook is a recipe for African Peanut Stew or African Yam Stew or something similar? I’ve also seen (though less frequently) recipes for, say, Asian-Style Tofu or whatever. I cannot recall ever seeing a cookbook featuring anything like European Bean Soup. Is it because to most vegan cookbook authors/food bloggers, it would be preposterous to assume that there is anything universal or overarching about the many countries that make up Europe, or their cuisines? And yet we don’t often see the same distinction granted to countries in Africa.

“African” stew? Is the recipe from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa? Is that tofu done Chinese-style, Japanese, Filipino? Never mind the many variations even within those categories (just to preclude comments along the lines of “But hey, lots of countries in Africa do that kind of stew / lots of Asian countries use tofu!”).

Another thing I’ve seen not infrequently in vegan cookbooks & food blogs is the following construction:

“[Non-English ingredient or recipe name] must be [non-English language] for ‘delicious’!”

I also spotted this recently at Food Fight, who guess that “Mahalo is Hawaiian for ‘fake Almond Joy.'”

Oh, how cutesy. How patronizing. We don’t know what those funny foreign languages mean but we sure do love their grub!

The obsession with authenticity is another thing. This, like all the food othering in this post, is not limited to vegans, of course. My white boss (a one-time vegetarian turned omnivore due to happy meat, I might add) once praised my lunchtime curry because it “smelled really authentic.” She then went on to bemoan how she couldn’t manage to cook Indian food “authentically.” I squirmed, & said something about how surely what mattered most was whether she liked what she cooked. This only served to encourage her to rattle on about how important it was to get food “authentic.”

Anyway, there are countless examples of vegan recipes that stress their authentic nature. One I stumbled upon recently was in The Urban Vegan, in a recipe for “Blue Mosque Ayran,” which apparently is a drink you can find “at any cafe or from any street vendor in Istanbul.” I’ve never been to Istanbul, so perhaps I’m missing something in how this drink would be connected specifically to mosques (whose architecture are often held up as images of the exotic & dangerously foreign, I note), much less how the recipe in the cookbook is “so refreshingly good that the imam would definitely approve.” I dunno — has anyone ever seen an Italian recipe touted as being so delicious that the priest would approve?

I did some Googling & found that a common Turkish recipe is Imam Bayildi — which apparently means “The imam fainted” (when he tasted the recipe). I didn’t really see any other references to the imam having a lock on what is authentic Turkish food or not, but if someone knows differently, please let me know. I wonder if the Urban Vegan knew of this particular recipe & made a deliberate reference to it, or if it was just an example of throwing in something seen as “exotic.”

On the same page of that cookbook, by the way, is a recipe for “Political Biscotti.” The recipe notes that cafe culture frequently features both biscotti and political discussion. The biscotti are political because they contain both carob & chocolate, two flavors about which “people tend to be very ‘either/or'”:

They are always considered separately, as two distinctive flavors that were never meant to come together, sort of like Palestine and Israel. … The dates [in the recipe] act as a sort of sticky-sweet peacemaker, a culinary UN if you will.

Yeah. She went there. The bloody oppression of Palestinians reduced to a clever comment about biscotti.


Statement on Haiti from Adoptees of Color February 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 10:21 am
Tags: , , , ,

… We understand that in a time of crisis there is a tendency to want to act quickly to support those considered the most vulnerable and directly affected, including children. However, we urge caution in determining how best to help. We have arrived at a time when the licenses of adoption agencies in various countries are being reviewed for the widespread practice of misrepresenting the social histories of children. There is evidence of the production of documents stating that a child is “available for adoption” based on a legal “paper” and not literal orphaning as seen in recent cases of intercountry adoption of children from Malawi, Guatemala, South Korea and China. We bear testimony to the ways in which the intercountry adoption industry has profited from and reinforced neo-liberal structural adjustment policies, aid dependency, population control policies, unsustainable development, corruption, and child trafficking…

The entire statement can be found here.


Women of Color writers needed for critical animal studies (JCAS) February 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 11:52 am

This came into my box this morning.



The Journal for Critical Animal Studies (JCAS) seeks essays from women of color scholars and activists across a variety of disciplines and social justice initiatives to develop understandings on the issues of race, gender, and animality in critical animal studies.  Since the term “critical animal studies” was introduced by the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, there has been a void of people of color contributions to the new and developing field. Particularly absent have been the thoughts, concerns, and activism of women of color.  For critical animal studies to engage a holistic politics for total liberation, women of color must play a role in the field’s development.  The goals of this issue are (1) to vitalize the intellectual participation of women of color in critical animal studies, (2) to examine overlapping concerns that are central to critical animal studies, feminist theory, and critical race theory, and (3) to promote avenues of thought and ideas for action that can move us beyond pernicious forms of “othering” that undergird nonhuman and human animal suffering.  Topics may include:

·         addressing racism, sexism, and gender oppression in critical animal studies

·         the role of white privilege in the animal rights movement

·         domestication and the decolonization of mind and body

·         semiotics of animality in racial discourse

·         traditional ecological knowledge of animal relationships

·         being an ally to nonhuman animals: animal activism from a woman of color’s perspective

·         interlocking oppressions of animality, race, and gender

·         racialization of the other

·         invasive species and invasive races

·         veganism, raw foods, and food justice

·         the social construction of overpopulation and female reproductive control

·         women of color ecofeminism and an ethic of care

·         racism, sexism, and gender oppression in the animal rights movement

·         addressing violence against women of color and nonhuman animals

·         imperialism, colonialism, and the oppression of native peoples

·         the future of critical animal studies for women of color

·         the role of women of color in the total liberation movement

Papers Due: April 12, 2010 at 5pm EST

Visit for submission guidelines (but forward all submission for this issue to the contact below)

Send papers to:

Anastasia Yarbrough

Institute for Critical Animal Studies