124 Restless & Radical: The Future of Veganism?

We talk about the Restless Vegans Manifesto AND Christopher Sebastion’s latest posts on radical veganism this week, examining the ways these works could shape a better future for veganism.

In This Episode

As we are evolving our vegan activism and exploring our identities as vegan activists, we have been feeling like non-humans animals have lost their place as our primary focus. We came across two pieces of work that explore this topic and have inspired us to make non-humans animals once again center to our veganism, while of course keeping a pro-intersectional approach and an equal concern for human animals as top priorities.

Restless Vegans
The first is the Restless Vegans Manifesto, a self-critical manifesto towards veganism written in Turkey by several contributors after a workshop called “Where is animal liberation within veganism?” that took place in Namekan (İzmir) during World Vegan Week in November 2013.

Much like feminism has had waves or phases, the Restless Vegan Manifesto calls for veganism to enter a second wave, one that puts non-human animals in the center of the movement and aims to disrupt capitalism. Many amazing points are made in the manifesto, including the concept that veganism has become about consumption rather than disruption (as they say, when someone finds out you are vegan, often the first thing they ask is what do you eat or what do you use for makeup or what shoes do you wear). This keeps veganism as a tool of capitalism, rather than a disruptive political stance that seeks to dismantle this system of oppression.

In an interview on the Animal Voices podcast, Gurey Tezcan, one of the authors of the Restless Vegan Manifesto, talks about how veganism should be more of an action or verb, rather than an identity. Our identities should focus on our ethics, with veganism as an action that we perform as a natural result of those ethics (think: “I practice veganism because I am anti-oppression” versus “I am vegan”).

Radical Veganism
Christopher Sebastian has done it again with two very recent posts about ditching the “intersectional vegan” label and adopting the mantle of radical veganism instead. He speaks about ways that intersectionality has been used inappropriately by the vegan community, how many spaces have become hotbeds of judgment and a closure of any real dialogue, and how really the term should be used by black and brown feminists, not vegans.

He proposes instead radical veganism: a stance that still includes intersectional or pro-intersectional awareness, but that also centers on animals, is solutions-focused and seeks to build community. His brave posts are so desperately needed, in our opinion, and are eternally appreciated by us. Please please please read them: Yes to Intersectionality, Boo to Intersectional Vegans; and the follow up Exploring Radical Veganism.

Joke in the Middle
“I asked a librarian if she had a book on Pavlov’s dog and Schrodinger’s cat” …

Links and Information

6 comments

  • Hi ladies,

    This podcast was great. It’s really interesting to see your philosophy on what it means to be pro-intersectional evolving over time. I too have felt suffocated and unable to even begin talking about ceetain topics to certain groups for fear of being the white vegan and it really doesn’t work for me. I can’t bite my tongue in deference anymore – not good for me or anyone else or the movement.

    I was wondering when you all plan on doing the entrepreneur podcast you promised a while back :) It would be really interesting to hear your thoughts while you’re transitioning to making this your full time gig. I want to make the leap too but am dealing with a lot of money anxiety and lack of control feelings which are SO uncomfortable for me. Nicole may be able to relate to this, but for me I grew up poor – my entire family is poor and I am the only person to have “made it”- I have health insurance, a comfortable salary, an education, savings, retirement account, etc. I never thought I would be in this position and it is so dang comfortable and nice. BUT the 9-5 life isn’t for me, being told what to do and what to work on day in and day out isn’t for me so I have been toying with the idea of leaving and starting my own thing but I am terrified I will fail, that I will be poor again, that I will be an old lady bagging groceries instead of enjoying a comfortable retirement, basically I am afraid to make the “wrong” choice by taking a risk when I have worked so so hard to be where I am and to have the traditional markers of success that my family would kill for, that a younger me would have killed for. At the same time I don’t want to have an unlived life. I don’t want to be a boring, traditional, wage slave slogging through the day passionless. I don’t want to regret not trying to make my life MINE.

    I sometimes mistakenly think of life as a game you can “win” and I don’t want to have “done everything right” only to be 90 years old and realizing I never really lived, I never took risks..I was just another boring, sad cog in the capitalist machine that checked off the boxes of what a middle class person is supposed to be and do.

    Would love to hear about your thoughts on this and how you handle the uncertainty and anxiety of it all.

    Love,

    Mel

    • Hi Melanie! Yes, we still plan to do the entrepreneur episode but it’ll still be a while in the making – we want to include as many entrepreneurial vegans as we can and it’ll take us some time to organize all the interviews and then edit them together. We both still have full-time corporate jobs and have no idea how we’re going to make the leap to working for ourselves at this point, we can’t seem to find the money in the type of activism and content we do. There’s a lot of anxiety around it for us, we completely sympathize with you on that! Thanks for letting us know there’s still an interest in this episode, we’ll make sure to keep working on it. <3 Nichole

  • One of my favorite episodes so far, thank you.

    Although its not currently a part of my life i was brought up among squatting and dumpster diving (the term freeganism didn’t exist 20 years ago) as a means of living/surviving as much as possible outside of consumerist society. I often find myself having these conversations with both vegans and meat eaters. It was really good to hear people making these arguments eloquently and from a platform where they might be heard by people willing to consider them.

    thank you again for this and all the work you guys do.

  • Yes!! An entrepeneur episode pls! I second that I would like to hear how you muster the courage to start your own business after having grown up poor – it’s scary.

  • Interesting episode, I have been having lots of the same thoughts recently, so very timely for me too. I was drawn to the idea of Intersectional Veganism because I believe that all forms of oppression are equally as bad and connected, and also seeing the need to practice veganism in a way that didn’t just replace one with another. Then after reading a bit on the intellectual idea and origin, I realised that I had misunderstood the meaning, and the online groups I had joined seemed to be doing the same, as well as primarily being worried about language and perception, (which is important, but I felt not in need of that amount of focus and energy in detriment to other things.) Added to all that the tendency to be dismissive and unaccepting of genuine mistakes by people new to the concept of intersectionality, even though the opposite attitude seemed to be the norm for people making mistakes when new to veganism, I was pretty confused and temporarily veered away from such groups and even your podcast(!). It’s very encouraging to hear you have a humble and open minded discussion about all of this, I think its essential to be able to learn, change, accept mistakes and know that is it ok to disagree with each other in a complex and ever changing movement and society, which do seem to be skills we have lost at the moment.

    • I’m glad this was timely for you! Yeah, I’m still thinking about all this CONSTANTLY. I’ve had some examples of this come up recently with the media reviews we’re doing – people pushing back and I’m not sure how much to argue as a white woman even though they are saying harmful shit. I think this will always be uncomfortable, but I don’t want to stop seeing other people as humans just because they belong to an oppressed group and avoiding these discussions feels like not seeing people as people.

      Yes, I love your last line – complex and ever-changing, indeed. I don’t think we know how to navigate a world where we are fighting for equality but haven’t achieved it yet, and I’m not sure how we are going to learn if we can’t talk to each other. But also always avoiding the pitfalls of privilege and fragility as much as we can. It’s rocky terrain, for sure, and I can understand trying to avoid it altogether. Some days I worry I’ve stepped in too far, I definitely have days where I feel completely lost at my place in anything.

      Because of all this, I’m so grateful to Christopher Sebastian for being so fucking brave in starting this conversation. I am awed by his strength and philosophy, as always!

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