Vegans of Color

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

Anti-Whaling Advocates and the Far Right July 12, 2009

In writing about the Makah whaling controversy in her book Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, Andrea Smith notes:

The Coalition for Human Dignity documents how animal and environmental rights groups, such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, collaborated with far-right Republican legislator Jack Metcalf to oppose the Makah. Metcalf has openly spoken at the meetings of overtly racist and anti-Semitic organizations and has called for the abrogation of Indian treaty rights. These groups, instead of developing strategies to negotiate their differences with the Makah that respected Native sovereignty, advocated for the U.S. to abrogate its 1855 treaty with the Makah that guarantees their right to whale hunt. What these “environmentalists” did not consider is that if they had been successful in legitimizing the abrogation of one treaty, it would have the effect of delegitimizing all treaties. They would be destroying the efforts of Native peoples across the country who are opposing corporate control through the use of treaties. Many of the leaders of these organizations, such as Dave Forman, Farley Mowat, and Paul Watson of SSCS, are also promoting an anti-immigration platform in environmental groups such as the Sierra Club… Also collaborating with SSCS is Brigitte Bardot, ally of the leading neofascist political party in France, the National Front. She is also overtly anti-immigrant, particularly anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. In Le Figaro, she stated: “Now my country, France, my homeland, my land, is with the blessing of successive government again invaded by a foreign, especially Muslim, overpopulation to which we pay allegiance.” (emphasis mine)

I know a lot of vegans adore the SSCS; I wonder how many of them knew about their connections to right-wing bigots.

Before some commenters trot out the same racist, colonialist arguments that frequently pop up in such discussions, you might take a look at this post about dolphin slaughter or this one about Brigitte Bardot & save your time.


Temporary Omnivores July 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 5:57 pm
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I remember, what feels like forever ago, but was really 2003 or 2004, my vegetarian friend and I were talking about how we would eat meat if/when  we ever traveled to other places outside the US. Not to make excuses but I was only 14 or 15 when this happened. I understand now that this sort of position is both selfish, and based on exotifying fantasies that reduce entire cultures to their food. And since high school I’ve broken vedge (a word of mine– comes from hanging out with sxe kids in high school) 3 times. Thats what happens when one is vegan to be fashionable or loses track of why.

I’m surprised by this Temporary Omnivore who was feature in a NYT blog
. She was a vegetarian to protest the industrial process that creates meat, but it seems to reflect a sort of privilege and convenience more. She talks about how it is easier to be a vegetarian in the States than in Paris.

That statement just didn’t sit well with me. After thinking about it for a bit I remembered the story I relayed at the beginning of this post. She was exotifying the French and reducing an entire culture to their cuisine. Lets not forget that there are French vegetarian and vegans as well.

(Just to say the defense that the French have fewer factory farms seems weak to me– I doubt that makes the rabbits, chickens, hoses, cows etc. feel any better about being consumed.)

But another thought hit me– she seemed to be saying no one questioned her being vegetarian in the States since elementary school. That statement reveals a lot of racial and class-based privileges. See, growing up working class and black in the South meant a hell of a lot of awkward social situations (not to mention a slightly increased economic burden on my accommodating mother, for real keeping a 6’3″ teenage vegan full had to be hard). Family functions were slightly disastrous for me. Dishes consisted of meat, or vegetables cooked with animal broth. My vegetarianism and then veganism have faced challenges consistently. It wasn’t till I got to Vassar, where I have the privileges of being a student was my veganism not questioned as often.

So I have problems with temporary omnivore-ism because it reflects a hell of a lot of issues: exotification, cultural reductionism, laziness, etc. And it reminds me that I, at least, need to maintain a politicized veganism, after all its about the animals, and it also re-reminds me that all of our vegan experiences are affected by our differing subject positions and privileges that come from them.


Brigitte Bardot: Not My Ally June 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 10:09 pm
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Until a few minutes ago, I only had the foggiest idea of who Brigitte Bardot was, or why I should care.

She’s just been fined for anti-Muslim remarks she made in France. She’d written on her website that Muslims were “destroying our country by imposing their ways.” Bardot, described by the BBC as a “prominent animal rights campaigner,” is said to be, in this instance (she’s been fined several times before for anti-Muslim statements), incensed about “the slaughter of animals for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.”

Two comments here: one, how about all the animal slaughter that non-Muslims living in France support every day with their diets? By focusing so heavily on Muslims, Bardot is showing what her real problem is: she’s an anti-Muslim bigot. And two, way to add to the reputation of animal rights activists as heads-up-their-asses folks who are oblivious to any other form of oppression or injustice but that visited on nonhuman animals by humans. (Intersectionality… it’s a pretty popular concept on this blog lately. Wonder why?)