Vegans of Color

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

More on classism, and some thoughts on ableism, within vegan movements March 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:53 pm
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Stephanie at Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Classism from Vegans Doesn’t Help Animals, Nonhuman or Human.

Steph at Vegan About Town: the ability to make choices.

And Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper re-posts a list of Feminist Reading Tools for Recognizing and Dismantling Intersectional Oppressions in solidarity with Breeze’s offering of resources here.

Nathan Gilmore at Alia Porci recently presented this thoughtful post: Earning the Right to Be Vegan: On the Intersection of Ableist Privilege and Speciesist Power. Here’s an excerpt:

Ability prejudice can also play out in the even subtler forms of animal rights activism that demand a intimate familiarity with every single hot topic in the movement, or at least, the ability to show yourself well-versed any of a number of disciplines ranging from law to sociology to ethics. While each of these certainly is germane to the broader issue of animal rights, and can be used with great efficiency, might it not be conceivable that the vegan, who for whatever reason (e.g. disability), honestly and truly cannot engage these issues so deeply might read this demand as a slammed door in the face?

Over the past year I’ve been thinking more about the privileging of the able-bodied (& neurotypical) in activist movements — including, but by no means limited to, veganism & animal rights. Often certain types of activism are held up as the pinnacles of commitment & getting shit done: direct action; mammoth demonstrations on the street; confrontational protests; etc. These are more risky for people who do not fit within a certain paradigm. For example, the risk of being dragged away by the cops at a protest may look very different to you if you are: POC; gender nonconforming; undocumented; a person with childcare commitments; female; disabled — not that any of these categories are mutually exclusive, of course!

I remember during the late ’90s & early ’00s, in the NE & mid-Atlantic area of the US, if you were an activist in certain circles it was almost taken for granted that you would do a lot of summit-hopping: primarily (but not always) to NYC or DC, wherever the next big anti-globalization protest was. If you weren’t climbing on the bus early in the morning every week to go protest, people asked why.

Maybe you find it uncomfortable to stand or walk for long periods (especially in the cold!). Maybe the routes of protest marches aren’t necessary accessible to those with mobility issues. Maybe you’ve got anxiety or other mental health issues that make potentially confrontational activism an issue. Maybe you can’t afford to take time off work / pay for childcare / pay for the bus even with sliding scale fares! (&… maybe you have doubts about the efficacy of huge demos as the best use of activist time & energy, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue…)

I really appreciated the paragraph in Nathan’s post that I quoted up there because it highlights one way in which neuro-atypical people are often invisibilized within activist communities (as are people with disabilities — PWD — in general). Here are some other standard activist behaviors that might be challenging to someone who’s not neurotypical or someone with mental health issues:

  • Tabling
  • Doorknocking
  • Wheatpasting flyers
  • Leading workshops
  • Working the door at events
  • Being a panelist or debater

Of course a lot of these may pose issues for PWD in general. And yet how much do these sorts of things form the core of activist work in many communities? Could we be alienating PWD from our movements partly by not thinking more of how standard activist work could be more inclusive (in addition to, you know, recognizing that PWD exist)? I think a lot of activist groups are still lagging behind on making events truly accessible, but I don’t think I’ve often seen consideration of PWD beyond a hasty search for accessible venues, if that.

(And given how many vegans push the health aspect of veganism, I wonder if any of the spaces on this bingo card have been used to PWD: specifically the ones about diet/exercise or how if you just took vitamins etc. you’d be cured. Shudder.)

EDIT: It seems I misused the term neurotypical up there; I had gotten the impression from seeing it online that it was used to cover a wider spectrum of conditions than autism, but apparently not? Neurodiversity maybe is more what I was looking for, as I meant to use a broader term & it sounds like some people, at least, use it in that sense. Also, I probably should have specified that the list of challenging activist items was at least partly inspired by my experiences with activism as someone dealing with mental health issues.


57 Responses to “More on classism, and some thoughts on ableism, within vegan movements”

  1. Ruchama Says:

    Thank you for this post. As someone with physical disabilities, I’ve gotten a lot of “Why don’t you do more?” comments — why don’t I go leaflet or protest or any of a bunch of other things. And my answer, that I need to take my weekends to rest so that I’ll be able to be functional during the week, is frequently not a good enough answer.

    I’ve also felt pushed out of vegan activist circles or activities where they were trying to promote a “Go vegan and be healthy like us, who run 10 miles a day and never get sick!” agenda, where I was a pretty obvious contradiction to the message and therefore not really wanted.

    • noemi Says:

      johanna-thanks for bringing this up. Its very important within our many activisms that cross. this: “that I need to take my weekends to rest so that I’ll be able to be functional during the week, is frequently not a good enough answer.”
      for example this weekend, Cesar Chavez celebrations everywhere & no explanations are good enough on why I can’t go to a march/event. When I bring up the reasons why I can’t make meetings or other taxing on my body stuff, I’m told-its only for an hour, thats not really a disease, its been made up by white doctors, you can rest afterwards–or the look out into the space lets get this conversation over. In the legal arena, for what its worth & in my personal experience, if its not in the wording of the ADA, its not real. thanks for the links, its given me some other sides/led to thoughts that I have should talk about & haven’t for fear of being scrutinized.

  2. prof susurro Says:

    thank you for adding this layer. I remember leaving an “immigrants rights by and for immigrants” training, that boasted an all vegan community meal @ the end, run by a feminist of color I had been dying to meet after I disclosed that I had a hidden disability & could not stand the way she wanted me to stand; moments later she asked me repeatedly in front of the group to kneel down as if that was any less taxing on my body, when I told her I couldn’t she just kept it up. In her mind, I was disrupting the training and “the process” because if she could not see dis/ability then it was not there. That moment has always stuck with me b/c it was woc feminist to woc feminist working at the intersections of immigration and veganism, & an intellectual hero of mine.

    Luckily, I’ve been in a lot of vegan discussions that deconstruct the discourse of “healthy bodies” but mostly w/vegans who have some relationship to disability …

    Ability is a complex issue even within dis/ability rights advocacy circles and I for one find it one of the harder things to teach in my classes because people simply don’t want to see (pun intended) why and how it matters.

  3. Noemi M Says:

    your post also got me thinking on how others question these “hidden” dis/ablities & how real can they be and the parent(S) who’s kids are around them and know very much how real they are & the accommodations they make with/for parents.

  4. Vincent Says:

    Thank you for this post!

  5. Nathan Says:

    Thank you very much for linking to my blog/referring to my post. I’ve been thinking: PWD’s can run into conflation among omnivores (at least in my personal experience) of their disability and their veganism, for example, my parents will “jokingly” blame my physical disabilities on veganism (“I bet that would clear up if you just ate some meat”, etc.). Vegan PWD’S can kind of get left behind from both sides: not being able to engage in ability-sanctioned activism, but also having their ability status conflated with the perceived detrimental effects of veganism. It’s a complex dynamic, to say the least. As Ruchama said, people (omnis and vegans) so often throw veganism in the nearest dumpster when it doesn’t fix every physical issue a PWD has.

    • brilliantmindbrokenbody Says:

      People are willing to blame any dietary choices for physical disabilities.

      I’ve been told that if I’d just become vegetarian or vegan, my GI problems would surely clear up (nevermind that they actually get worse when I eat plant-based proteins). I’ve also had it suggested to me that if I’d just eat more fish and some flaxseeds, my joints would be fine (I’m sure that would cure my genetic disorder).

      Not to say they don’t do that with veganism, but that people as a whole seem to like blaming diet for physical disabilities. It’s up there as a favorite with ‘take vitamins/herbs/minerals/etc’ and ‘get more exercise’.


  6. thanks for this. i constantly learn more about myself and others through this site. that bingo card was mind blowing. i could definately relate. the things i’ve thought of others and others thought of me were on that. dang.

  7. Francesca Says:

    Thank you for this post!

    I have a mental illness and I so often here how if I just took x vitamin or herb or got more sunlight or exercised more I would be fine. It is very frustrating and I often feel like I am being talked down too. I have also been told I am not really vegan because I take psychiatric medication and that mental illnesses are nor “real” illnesses. This is incredibly hurtful and also just plain wrong.

  8. hsofia Says:

    To be vegan, do you have to be an activist?

    • nah. live your life though when you change the way you eat and how you consume things, you are making a stance for yourself and others in how you want to live. as far as picketing and such, nah not a requirement.

  9. Amanda Says:

    There’s also one thing that is such a major taboo to bring up that I have never failed to get hostility for it from vegetarians and vegans —

    Some disabled people have bodies that won’t do well on a vegetarian or vegan diet no matter how many supplements we take.

    If I had a nickel for every veg(etari)an who told me that’s not possible and that people who need meat or animal products just weren’t doing things right, I’d be rich by now. But such people exist for a wide variety of reasons.

    Another thing that comes up in animal rights circles is Peter Singer and others with similar philosophies who construct personhood in such a way that many nonhuman animals have it but many humans don’t. Which has been used to argue that it’s okay to put disabled babies of any kind to death after they are born, and also that it’s okay to kill people with certain kinds of cognitive disabilities at any age.

    That last one has made some cognitively disabled people I know so scared of animal rights that they refuse to support it because they fear it will contain concepts used to remove the rights of certain humans.

    • All members of the human species have the same basic physiology. Considering this, I seriously doubt that any human cannot eat a vegan diet and be healthy.

      Regarding Peter Singer, he isn’t a rights advocate, but rather a utilitarian. He’s also a speciesist who only supports legal rights for humans, nonhuman great apes, and possibly other mammals. I suggest reading the work of true rights advocates like Joan Dunayer and Gary Francione. They each argue that if someone (regardless of species) is sentient, they should be regarded as full members of the moral community as persons with rights.

      • Brandon, I hear what you’re saying, but I still think one has to be careful with saying that 1 way works for everyone. I do like the idea of a vegan planet, but what does it mean that there are people telling you/us that they literally cannot be completely vegan (in diet), even though they have tried and the result has been ill health, REGARDLESS of what nutritional science has proven. Is there a possibility that there are human beings that need to consume animal-based product or they will die?

        I also am suggesting that people be careful with saying that “Well, science has proven that x, y, z, is appropriate for all humans.” Science (in the West at least) has a history of its own agenda and being embedded in sexist, racist, classism, ableist, etc institutions. Also, not everyone has the resources to have a vegan tailored diet for their specific needs. Resources such as the right type of dietitan, nutritionist, etc., are really difficult for many people to have access to (financially, mobility, etc). Yes, it may very well be that those who tried to be on a vegan diet and couldn’t do it , because of specific health challenges, had to stop… is it because they did it WRONG, or is it really because they specific needs cannot be met with the vegan diet, regardless of all the expert advice they could have access to?

      • Cesar Says:

        I’m certainly sensitive to not seeming reductionist or oppressive to folks with disabilities but what Brandon is saying is accurate. As humans we share the same nutritional requirements; calories, amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. Some folks get their nutrients from animals and their bodily functions and some folks get them from the source; the plants. There is no vitamin or nutrient obtained from animal sources that cannot be obtained from plants or synthetically. If I’m saying this in error I’d like to know in what way.
        Breeze, I think you make a great point about not everyone having access to the resources to have a healthy (or specifically tailored) vegan diet (as of yet — this is why vegan advocacy is so greatly needed) but that does not at all mean that human beings physiologically do not share the same nutritional requirements, which can all be obtained from non-animal sources.

      • johanna Says:

        I think you’re both making assumptions about the human body. Not everyone’s body works the same way, no matter how they “should” work (& that “should” has a lot of assumptions behind it!). I know someone who has dairy allergies, soy allergies, can’t eat goigoitrins (sp?) or sugars, & a whole host of other things. Can you honestly say that this person would be able to eat a vegan diet?

        & in case anyone is going to refer to the nutritional info in Becoming Vegan, please see this comment (& in fact, a lot of this stuff has already been hashed out, painfully, in that post).

        • This is what I mean (in reference to Johanna). I have met people who are gluten and legume allergic, and allergic to just about all nuts. I’m just wondering what a vegan diet would look like for people with these situations? I’m just putting it out there because it is important to ask these. Maybe in the future, there will be resources, foods, etc, available for everyone’s specific needs if they want to live vegan. But what about now? What would you tell these people to do?

          • Ruchama Says:

            Being vegan is also pretty difficult, though maybe not impossible, for someone who has to eat a very low fiber diet.

          • C Says:

            I didn’t have to tell my aunt to do anything. She understood the ethical argument for veganism and made it work. She eats some grains, fruits, vegetables, fungi, seeds, coconut, nutritional yeast, and other stuff.

            • Dear C: I guess my question is: Well, that’s cool that your aunt knows and has the resources she needs to make it WORK. What about those who are not in your aunt’s position? How do I talk to them about practicing veganism even though they strongly feel that it won’t work for their physical needs. Or, that they have tried it and make the honest claim that they felt horrible and are scared to try it again? No matter how much “science” or “Data” I can show many people about a “properly” planned vegan diet, many will not want to do it because they strongly feel that “It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. What if I do this an I do end up getting sicker or dying?”

              And if I am telling them, “All you need is a properly planned vegan diet and it HAS to work because it has proven by scientific evidence” , does this mean I am asking them to trust “the facts” over how they physically feel? Please let me know if I’m making sense. I mean not to be confrontational, just curious.

              • C Says:

                Hi Breeze. I never indicated my aunt’s position but apparently it has been somewhat assumed so I’ll clarify. She is mid-60 years of age and lives in SE DC in an area that certainly is not very well equipped to provide balanced food to a vegan with no restrictions let alone all her restrictions. She has no car. She goes to markets and orders a lot of food stuff online and has taken the responsibility to grow some food in her apartment, including fungi. Also my fam and I help her obtain some of the food she consumes from time to time.
                As I said above, you make a great point regarding lack of access to well balanced (or specifically tailored) plant based diets. That is certainly a serious current issue in vegan advocacy and I have not denied that. It will take a lot of work to create a world that does not rely on animal exploitation for human needs 100%. I do not make the argument that it will occur overnight, or even anytime soon.
                My reply to your comment is this – some folks will say a plant based diet will not work for them even if they have not tried to make it work or have assumed it won’t work because they already think of veganism as restrictive, thereby guiding their actions. I respect anyone who claims veganism will not work for them but I have no way of knowing if they’ve actually tried their best. Regardless, I will still consistently continue to advocate for the interests of animals in not being exploited and will provide support to folks, including those very *rare* cases where one has a valid claim that veganism will “not work” for them, to the best of my ability. If all else fails I think one can do the best they can if they accept the argument that we humans have not justification, or right, to exploit other animals. If that means (**and this an extremely rare case mind you**) one has to rely on an animal derived ingredient to survive because the world is not yet set up to provide for them then, and if that’s the best they can do, I can accept that.
                I hope this clarifies my position. I take animal interests seriously and reject fallacious reasoning and faulty argumentation not based in fact. Humans share the same general nutritional requirements I’ve listed above. Unless someone can disprove that then my point still stands.

      • C Says:

        My aunt is allergic to soy, all legumes, and wheat and she is a committed vegan. Unless you can explain to me how my comment about human nutritional requirements is incorrect then it is you who is making assumptions.
        How could that person you speak of not eat some sort of a plant based diet? Why does being allergic to those things equate to this person having to eat animals?

      • C Says:

        and I can’t find anything on goigoitrins.

      • C Says:

        Johanna, I just went over the comment you linked to regarding Vesanto Melina.
        So this Nancy says she spoke with Melina and she told Nancy that not everyone can thrive on a vegan diet? That is clearly hearsay and not support for your argument.

        • Crys T Says:

          So this is a court of law now? Come on. Using that criteria, why the hell should we take anything you say about your aunt seriously? After all, it’s coming from YOU, not HER.

      • johanna Says:

        I figured out the spelling now: it’s goitrogen.

        Just because your aunt can do it that means every single other person can do it???

      • C Says:

        “Just because your aunt can do it that means every single other person can do it???”

        FALLACY! I never said that.

      • johanna Says:

        Yeah, but it was implied pretty heavily.

      • C Says:

        “It just doesn’t make sense to deny the rest of our body the benefits of these foods when the threat they pose to our thyroid is so slight and can be eliminated so easily! So I suggest that we all use a little common sense when it comes to goitrogens and our thyroids — steam, cook, or ferment your vegetables to reduce the goitrogenic compounds, rotate your choices so that you’re not eating the same foods every day, and above all, enjoy them as part of a richly varied diet of wholesome foods”

        • Cesar Says:

          Johanna, that was not “implied pretty heavily”. You seem to be looking, and reaching, for reasons to disagree with me. I used my aunt’s situation as an example of how someone who folks would generally think could not survive (or thrive as she does) on a vegan diet is doing it and actually doing it very healthfully and with plenty of variety. I know other folks who have the same sorts of allergies (or even fewer allergies) and claim that a vegan diet will not work for them. Have they tried it to the best of their ability? I don’t know, but I do know someone who is doing it with success. I hope my point is clear now.

  10. Carol the longwinded Says:

    Amen Amanda. I have a disability that makes it impossible me for to get enough nutrients from a vegan diet. If I had a dollar for every time a vegan, vegetarian and especially raw food person told me that this would cure me…I’d be out of debt. And if I followed that advice I’d be dead.

    • Carol the longwinded, I would like to know more about your experience with people telling you that a plant-based diet can ‘cure’ you. I personally find it interesting that I am unable to have a dialogue about, “Well, in all honesty, what if someone cannot thrive off of a plant-based diet because they really are unable to do it due to their body’s unique needs.” Thus far, I have heard, “Well, then they’re doing it WRONG and not really TRYING.” It appears to be a very cruel response if not very ARROGANT, “Well, I did it and if you can’t do it then you are inferior and not perfect like me.”

  11. […] of Color * More on classism, and some thoughts on ableism, within vegan movements “Could we be alienating PWD from our movements partly by not thinking more of how standard […]

  12. johanna Says:

    I wonder: how do we serve the interests of the vegan/AR movement by implying (or sometimes outright stating, as people in the thread have noted) that disabled people are wrong about what they say about their own bodies & their own experiences?

    Even aside from what that says about our views towards the disabled (that they are ignorant / their own experiences can’t be trusted / they are wrong / etc.), how is that going to persuade people to become vegan or do vegan / AR work?

    • I was simply trying to state what I’ve read to be facts about human nutritional needs, based on common species physiology. If we’re serious about overcoming human privilege and relinquishing our power to exploit other animals (as individuals and society), claims that a vegan diet is impossible for some humans need to be challenged. It’s not about denying anyone’s experience, but instead striving to avoid upholding speciesist hierarchy.

      • Cesar Says:

        Thanks, Brandon. That’s what I’ve been trying to get across and you said it well.
        For some reason it seems this discussion is being framed like this – anyone who has a basic knowledge of general human nutritional requirements, and understands that as long as humans get calories, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals from **any source** (all of which can be obtained from non-animal sources) they will be able to survive and be relatively healthy (with consideration to their unique individual conditions), then this person is denying the experience of anyone living with a disability that claims veganism will not work for them. That’s far from the case is actually quite insulting and offensive.

        • blondiefk Says:

          What about people who
          don’t produce cholesterol? There are no plant based sources for cholesterol.

          And there are also no vegan sources of EPA except Vpure- which only provides 50 mg. EPA is not easily made by the body, particularly by those who have mood disorders. The amount recommended for mood disorder is between 1.5 and 2 grams. That would require an entire bottle of Vpure a day just for the minimum. The is above the price range of most people. There is no good source for EPA in that amount other than fish oil. I would probably benefit greatly from the EPA but I don’t take it. However, I would not reject someone who was otherwise vegan who did.

      • Kao Says:

        I think that perhaps the problem is you were prioritizing your facts over a disabled person’s actual experience. While it may be true that many people who think they cannot be vegan could actually adopt the diet if only they had proper support from those around them, it feels… paternalistic to tell a disabled person, who is used to having their experiences outright ignored or invalidated as a matter of course, that they are wrong about what is going on with their bodies. Especially if you have no idea what conditions the person might have, whether or not they are a statistical outlier. As a PWD, this attitude makes me uncomfortable because it is one that has been wielded against me by the medical community.

        I absolutely think that a statistical outlier should not be taken and used in that “well, X doesn’t follow this rule, so the rule is invalid” sense, but surely there is a middle ground in between this sense and disregarding the statistical outlier’s experiences wholesale.

  13. Ken Says:

    I honestly don’t think any form of persuasion will be good enough to convince the disabled or anybody else to do vegan/ar work, especially if it remains guilt based or “factual”. Let’s face it, most of us are not scientists or doctors and probably therefore are not qualified to make claims as to whether anybody (including ourselves) can or cannot survive on a vegan diet. But what we can know for certain is whether a vegan diet is outside of our abilities or resources. That doesn’t mean it is impossible for a person to be vegan, but rather that it is just too fucking hard and out of one’s abilities. I’ve known vegans from very rough places in the “developing world” who managed to be healthy and vegan, I myself am a very able bodied person but I did not commit to veganism until I lived in a collective house that supported me in every possible way. What we need, more than persuasion, is to facilitate a vegan way of life for those who want it but don’t have the ability or resources and not only material but personal support, a real community and not just a bunch of individual “activists”.

  14. Cesar Says:

    Again, no one has discussed the legitimacy of my factually backed up claim about human nutrition. Instead there is plenty of appeals to emotions floating around.
    I think it’s very offensive to generalize all PWD. Note that I had mentioned considering unique individual conditions in a previous comment. **I’d like to know which specific disability requires the consumption of animals?**
    It’s also important to reiterate the fact that many able bodied folks make the claim that veganism will not work for them because they claim to need more protein, iron, calcium, b12, vitamin d, vitamin a, omega 3, and a huge list of nutrients that can be obtained from plants. Keep in mind that the majority of folks in this society, including those who are able bodied and those with disabilities, are intentionally misinformed about human nutrition as well as the abundance of a vegan diet. And able bodied folks, as well as PWD, do not know exactly what’s going on with their bodies in all cases. **Has anyone considered how this plays a part in this discussion at all?** I certainly would like to know of specific disabilities that would make a plant based diet impossible. Is it being asserted that PWD know more about what’s going on in their bodies, in regards to nutritional requirements, than able bodied folks? I absolutely mean no disrespect to PWD (as has been stated here several times) or anyone else at all in asking these questions! If I am mistaken in my comments of human nutrition then I will own up to it. I’m very upset about being turned into the (“paternalistic” “wahh wahh wahh”, etc.) enemy here and I think if everyone would re-read my comments and put the emotions aside you would see I mean no offense to PWD in particular and anyone else in general.

    All the best to all.

    • Kao Says:

      Problems with processing nutrients are exactly what I was thinking about as a potential barrier to veganism. Through my favorite support group for PWD, I have met persons who, for reasons whose details I cannot get into without divulging their entire medical histories*, have extreme gastrointestinal problems that make consuming enough of certain nutrients or digesting certain kinds of food difficult to impossible. Some of my friends are that way due to some quirk of their body’s makeup, and some are that way because illness required surgery to remove one or more of their digestive organs. For some of them, they’re unlucky enough to have enough issues that converting to verganism has a very serious risk of making them sicker in the short term, and guess what? Voluntarily making yourself sicker is a difficult thing to do, especially if it results in you losing your job due to absenteeism. Reasonable accommodation pursuant to the ADA or equivalent disability rights laws can only go so far, assuming any such law exists in the country of one’s residence.

      Refusing to acknowledge that not everyone has a fully functional set of digestive organs, chemicals, flora and fauna is ableist. I refuse to mince words because it is flat. out. ableist, as are derailing gibes about someone being turned into the enemy or about facts being met by emotional argument. It’s hard to stay unemotional when there’s yet another non-disabled person saying that they know better and the disabled person should shut up and listen, especially in what should have been a discussion examining ableism.

      The purpose of my comment to you wasn’t to offend or demonize you, Caeser. It was to point out that you don’t know everything about all the ways a human body can be screwed up, without violating the trust of my friends or spending energy I don’t have educating you. I’m not that surprised that you chose to respond by shooting for a derailing Bingo.

      *I am refusing to divulge because stories about someone else’s body are theirs to tell, not mine. I won’t break that trust to win points in an argument.

  15. johanna Says:

    Cesar, when a PWD calls you out on a privileged attitude as a non-disabled person, guess what? It’s not about your feelings! It’s not about whether you are “very upset” or not. It’s entirely possible to be ablist regardless of intent!

    Ugh. What a fucking derail: on a post about how PWD may be alienated from our movements, a couple people want to hammer on about how PWD are actually wrong & can’t be trusted about their own bodies… thanks for proving the point, folks.

    (& really: I note nobody is talking about whether all humans can process nutrients from food (regardless of where the nutrients come from) in the same way: which is a v. different issue from what nutritional needs a human may have!)

    • What about human privilege? It’s also entirely possible to be speciesist regardless of intent! Let’s have an intersectional politics that confronts human supremacy just as hard as other systems of domination.

      • Kao Says:

        And why should anyone think you are worth having such a discussion with when you can’t even acknowledge that you have been using able-bodied privilege throughout this entire discussion? It isn’t worth discussing intersectional anything with someone whose response to a well deserved privilege check is to derail, derail, derail.

  16. Why wasn’t my reply to the above comment approved? An explanation would be helpful to advance dialogue.

    • Which comment Brandon? I have been approving all you comments. Do you mean this one:

      “What about human privilege? It’s also entirely possible to be speciesist regardless of intent! Let’s have an intersectional politics that confronts human supremacy just as hard as other systems of domination.”

      • I appreciate the response. I’m not referring to that comment but rather my reply to Kao’s response to it. It hasn’t yet been approved, but if you don’t see it anywhere in the pending comments, I’ll post it again. Let me know, thanks.

  17. blondiefk Says:

    The comments by abled bodied people that those who aren’t vegan just could be if they tried harder are exactly what a lot of disabled people hear all the time. I have been told countless times if I got more sun , more exercise, took x, y or z I would be fine. Often these people have no idea what they are talking about. It is very frustrating to have your experience and knowledge of your body and your disability completely discounted.

    And as I said above, the assertion that everyone can get everything they need from a vegan diet is nit always true. I used the example of EPA. Technically you could get enough from a vegan source; however rhe cost makes it impossible for anyone who is not wealthy. So again veganism becomes about privilege and those who don’t have that privilege are made to feel guilty for not being vegan in addition to being marginalized for being disabled.

  18. johanna Says:

    Brandon: as blondiefk & Kao have pointed out multiple times, PWD VERY FREQUENTLY have their own experiences dismissed in a flagrant show of ablism — such as you are doing. Such as you have continued to do throughout this whole conversation.

    When someone calls you out on privilege, the appropriate response is not to deny that you could’ve done anything wrong. Nor to just keep repeating your broken record assertions & dismissive comments.

    Any further comments that continue along these lines are subject to deletion. I am not interested in giving ablist derailing more of a platform in this post.

  19. Coyote Says:

    I was just thinking, though some might disagree with me here, but..
    there are some definitions for vegans that claim that they avoid animal products /as far as it’s practical and possible/ for that person.
    Now, no one is 100% vegan. And this definition allows for a bit of leeway. There’s many people who are considered vegan among one of the online vegan communities that I’m a part of who consume non-vegan products such as medication (which is tested on animals, or may have animal parts) because they need that medication in order to survive. No one tells them not to take the medication because it isn’t vegan, or that they can’t be vegan because they take the medication.
    If there is this kind of room for acceptance in the vegan community for vegans who have to consume non-vegan products, then I think it’s well within our power to accept those people who absolutely have to eat animal products to survive. And if that person is doing all that is practical and possible for themselves to reduce animal suffering (perhaps eating as vegan as their body will allow? Or purchasing from more ethical sources if they have the means? Or abstaining from leather and wool if it is within their means?) Surely we can consider them an ally to the vegan cause?

  20. T Says:

    To comment on the comments and not the original post:

    The societal construct plays a part in the decisions of those who eat meat for any reason.

    Most people wouldn’t even consider eating a person or pet animal for their medical needs because the idea is abhorrent due to its social unacceptability. Yet the argument is being made that one may have a need to eat meat even when there are plant options available.

    If one believes that a farm animal is equal to a human animal or pet animal then the argument for eating farm animals but not the others for medical needs is born out of the idea that it is acceptable for some animals to be used by humans.
    If we lived in a society in which the eating of meat was considered to be repugnant, most would not even consider going against the social norm, especially when there are options, no matter the expense, which fall within the realm of acceptability.

  21. Jacqui Says:

    There are many disabilities out there other than allergies that wouldn’t allow for somebody to go vegan, even with all of the supplements in the world. If vegan protein powder makes you sick and you can’t eat nuts or beans, eating animal-based protein may be your only choice. Not everyone can afford a protein supplement or has access to a vegan one that doesn’t harm their system. When the only things you can eat are vegetables that have been cooked limp, lean meats, cooked fruit products, white bread, and sugar, going vegan is impossible, even for somebody in an ideal financial situation. Not everyone can go vegan. To say that humans should suffer and die slow, painful preventable deaths to prevent animal cruelty is speciesism. Why can’t they just eat minimal animal products and be encouraged to get them from sources that treat the animals better?
    This doesn’t even touch on the classism that I’ve encountered from other vegans and assumes that everyone is financially well-off and is near sources of supplements they’d need.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Hi there,

    I know that this thread is quite old, but I invite folks who are PWD and vegan to submit to The Disabled Vegan Reader, an anthology seeking creative, first-person essays that explore the confluences between disability/ableism and animal liberation activism/speciesism. We are particularly interested in hearing from writers who are woman-identified and people of color.

    Please have a look at the call for submissions at our website (

    It was a pleasure to read this thoughtful post; I have cited it at the project’s Facebook page.

    A. Marie Houser, Editor

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