115 Consumerist Veganism and “Voting with Your Dollar”

This week on VWPA we’re talking about the problems with consumerist veganism and the concept of “voting with your dollar.”

In this Episode

Nichole and Callie critically analyze the popular concept of consumerist veganism, whereby a vegan can be an activist through the purchases they make. Once consumerist vegans themselves, the princesses relate information they’ve learned along their SJW journey that led them to conclude that consumerist veganism is in many ways harmful and should not be touted as a definitive way to end animal exploitation.

Main themes addressed:

    • Consumerist veganism fails to challenge systems of oppression and in fact actually supports them, particularly colonialism and the white heteropatriarchy that ensures that affluent cis white men have more economic power than anyone else


    • Voting with your dollar acknowledges and encourages classism and erases the experience of people without as much economic power, while also being racially insensitive to the dark history of voting in our country and others


    • 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe accounts for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent


    • Personal consumption is only 25% of money spent
      – The other 75% is military, industry, government, and corporations



    • Consumerist veganism is human-centric: it seeks to make humans as comfortable and accommodated as possible in choosing a diet that is free of animal products VS being animal-centric to focus on the injustices of speciesism and how to end them. It fails to challenge speciesism or the capitalist idea that it is ok to exploit living beings for profit.



    • Having to pay for food is in itself a violence; by being consumerist vegan we support this violence against basic rights to life
      1 in 8 people worldwide do not get enough food
      – 1 million children die from hunger-related causes, 34 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition
      – Hunger kills more people per year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined


    • Look into low/zero waste and minimalist movements. While these can be very privileged and ableist, there is a lot of value to the concepts behind these movements. See where you can apply these principles to your life. Watch the Story of Stuff.


    • Think about what it means to call yourself vegan. Consider using vegan as an action instead of a label. Instead of saying that you are a vegan, consider saying you practice veganism because you are anti-violence / anti-oppression / pro-animal liberation.


Closing thoughts on “voting with your dollar”
As we explained last week, blacks and latinx are systemically suppressed and prevented from voting or having their votes count in our elections. Our system of mass incarceration jails millions of people, many of them people of color. These people are not allowed to vote, for at least a stretch of time. They struggle to find employment, which means they struggle to find housing and, yes, food. As a man said in the documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, that we referenced last week, “First they take your job, then your house, then your vote.” By claiming that we can change the world by voting with our dollars, we take on what becomes a largely white savior idea of change, ignoring that so many have lost their literal right to vote AND are systemically economically oppressed so that they can’t “vote” monetarily either. This concept assumes a post-racial, post-classist world where people have control or access in these matters.

As long as there is capitalism, and therefore consumerism, there will always be products made by an oppressed group (clothing, chocolate, nails/massages, etc.) Boycotts are a great start, but they are not enough to plug the holes in the sinking ship that is capitalism.

Remember: we only started charging for food once we knew we had more than enough for everyone.

Joke in the middle

How do you stop a warthog from charging?

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