060 Veganism as a Moral Imperative for Feminism?

Is veganism a moral imperative for feminists? A video on Everyday Feminism prompted the princesses to do a reaction episode, outlining why the video was so misguided and harmful for dialogue around this topic.  

In This Episode

Everyday Feminism published a video that asks, “Does Feminism Require Vegetarianism or Veganism?” The article introduced vlogger Celia Edell who made the video, with the description of her as “a feminist vegetarian who doesn’t apply her choice to others.” The video is misguided, sloppy and made by a vegetarian who should not be weighing in on vegan issues. The intersectional internets basically exploded with pissed off social justice warriors and vegan advocates, including us!, rushing to express anger and frustration at such an important topic being handled so poorly on such a large platform. Nichole and Callie, both enraged by the video and not wanting to miss out on the fun, taped this episode as mostly a response to the video, but also to discuss the topic as a whole and, hopefully, with a bit more insight. Aph Ko’s amazing Facebook response is referenced several times, and linked to down below in the resources page, we highly recommend reading it. It won the internet that day.

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    • I needed to write and tell you that I couldn’t make it through your most recent podcast, due to the story on the vegan food for prisoners in Louisiana. I was horrified by your claim that prisons are full of people who don’t deserve to be there or are there for crimes that shouldn’t even be crimes. Watching a handful of documentaries probably highlights the outliers, for whom this may be true. However, that is not true for the majority of people in jail. I too am coming at this issue from an outlying perspective, but after being a victim of violent crime, your overwhelming concern for prisoners, many of which are violent criminals whom we have every reason to restrict and monitor, felt like a literal punch to the gut and I had to turn it off. I have enjoyed listening to you, but I will be taking an indeterminate break from this podcast. I just can’t listen after that and I felt the need to give my feedback. Thank you
        • I’m very sorry to hear that the podcast upset you and certainly understand if you need to take a break or stop listening. I am so sorry for what you went through. We are an intersectional, inclusive show and this means we try to look behind the emotional to see the truth, especially for groups of people (or animals) who are often overlooked. The more you look into our justice system, the more chilling and a “grey area” it becomes. If this means you can no longer listen to the show, I understand. We’ll be sad to lose you but we are also not going to pretend that tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people in this country are not being chewed up by a broken system that no one cares to fix because it targets the disenfranchised among us. If you learn how bail works, how pleas work, how much the system targets poor uneducated people, you start to realize that we’ve been fed a lie about innocent until proven guilty, and that not everyone in jail is deserving of being there or are there under unnecessarily harsh sentences. A good primer if you are interested: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122725819 Gets lots of self-care and know that you have our sympathies.
          – Nichole
    • Your discussions are interesting and thought provoking and this week’s podcast was no exception. I appreciate that you admit there is so much to learn about how to be more inclusive and compassionate people and that you are always listening with an open mind to feedback on how to move toward improvement. It is inspiring. I think if I said to my (feminist omnivorous) sister that her “feminism is not complete” she would likely ask “what do you mean?” and if I pointed to the non-human animals excluded in her version of feminism, she would admit to being speciesist and being totally okay with that. And my point would be lost on her because she, indeed, is concerned only with the *human* female identifying persons, seeing no problem or inconsistency. Back to square one? I guess it seems that if you call someone out on being speciesist, it doesn’t seem to resonate at all as a concern to most people. In fact, the only folks I have ever heard show any concern about being speciesist, are already vegan. I’m trying to say that trying to convince a human rights activist that their morals should transfer to non human animals is a tough sell if they have the mindset that “humans are at the top of the food chain”. It is frustrating because these advocates seem like prime candidates for advocating for the rights of non human animals, but it doesn’t always work like that. Similarly, there are animal advocates who DO NOT make good human rights advocates… What’s the disconnect?
        • You make a great point – the hardest part of this is that people who are speciesist don’t care that they are speciesist. I’m not really sure how to climb that wall. It’s like talking to someone who is racist or sexist, they just don’t care. For me, I just hope having that conversation plants a seed, even if it takes years to grow. I guess that’s the best we can do. – Nichole
    • Hello and thank you for an excellent podcast. I would have liked to hear you go deeper into the idea that dairy is more of a feminist issue than meat. It’s an idea that I’ve come across before, but find difficult to swallow. I see the argument that it is exploitation of the female reproductive system, but I think it’s missing the point to argue that the exploitation of female animals is motivated by the same misogyny or sexism human women experience. To me the links are in more fundamental mechanisms of oppression that are in this case of animals are unrelated to sex. Do you think the view that speciesism is compounded by sexism is important to the vegan feminist intersection? Please point me to further reading on this if you have any! By the way, here is a shameless plug for my blog, I gave you a mention at the end of the latest post: http://ididsomeactivism.tumblr.com
        • Mm, now that you say it, I wish we had gone deeper into it. Thanks to this comment we’re working on getting Carol Adams to come on the show to talk about this in much deeper detail, fingers crossed that she agrees to it! I was going to link to Adams’ work, but I see from your blog post that you are already familiar. I love the way you frame the question, and to answer you, I think it is and is not important. I think it is important for feminists who are not vegan to see the ways in which female bodies are used, and the links between the way humans try to control human female bodies (everything from rape culture to abortion laws), to the way that humans use animal female bodies. I think this whole issue came about because so many feminists say, “Why should I care?” I get what you’re saying. I agree, that I don’t think the exploitation is sexist in and of itself. The fact that female animals produce milk and have babies is just what it is. We see this with baby chicks, right? The male chicks are killed ruthlessly because they are not valuable. Male animals are sexually exploited for their semen. So, the industry is just as ruthless with male animals as females, and is simply interested in exploiting the animals for any and all purposes, regardless of gender. It does exploit the animals differently based on gender, and that, I guess, is where you could make a feminist argument. For me, it’s more that my feminism causes me to relate to those female animals in a deeply sympathetic way and I cannot (now) imagine being a feminist who “doesn’t care” about animals or the food system. I’m checking out your blog now, love it! And thank you for the shout out, that really helps us out a lot!
            • Thanks for the reply! I’ll make sure I read Adams properly from cover to cover some time soon. I’d love to hear an episode with her!

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