Veganism is More Than Just     a  Diet




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Racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination, including speciesism, are all forms of violence. They are all wrong. The abolitionist approach to animal rights maintains that we cannot see animal exploitation in isolation from these other forms of violence and that we must reject them all. So go vegan, embrace nonviolence, and reject all discrimination.”

Gary L Francione

Veganism is more than just a diet, it is a way of life – at least it should be.

An on-inline question on an internet forum asked: “is it okay to have an abortion if you are vegan?” I am astounded by such a question, though there is no clear cut yes or no as such an action depends on circumstances*. But generally speaking an abortion willy-nilly for convenience most certainly cannot be considered by any ethical vegan surely!  It’s hard to understand how someone could be for the rights of animals to live but not for the rights of humans before they are even born. Veganism for me is a way of life, a statement of non violence to all beings, human and nonhuman animals, born or unborn.

Veganism also means concern about and the advocation for the protection of our environment. The wilful neglect and exploitation of our natural world cannot be condoned or participated in by anyone who is an ethical vegan as it harms all creatures both now and in the future, both human and nonhuman.

Veganism for me includes not only the abolition of speciesism but also of racism, sexism ageism intelligenceism … any discrimination towards any sentient being.

I hope to discuss in more detail all topics relating to vegan ethics but for this article today I will focus mainly on discrimination, in particular racism.

I am shocked when I come across vegans who are racist, this being the most common and most violent category of discrimination concerning humans.

The ethics of veganism has no place for racism. Regardless of race we are all one species, all sentient beings, all animals, all mammals as is a pig, a sheep, a cow or your cat or dog. You cannot promote the rights of non human animals while ignoring or even worse promoting harmful ideas such as racism, which leads to violent actions, towards the human animal.  Incidentally animals have a thing or two to teach us about racism, anyone ever notice different breeds of dogs, rabbits, sheep, pigs and others segregating themselves from each other. To a rabbit another rabbit is a rabbit whether he or she is a dutch dwarf rabbit or a continental giant rabbit, a black rabbit or a while rabbit. To a rabbit, a rabbit is a rabbit is a rabbit.

Regarding racism I have to say that I utterly loathe the term “people of colour”, used in the US to refer to anyone who is not white,  this in itself is racist, discriminatory, a label dividing white from anyone who isn’t. It is difficult I know to describe the people we are concerned about without causing offence but surely if you really have to refer to someone’s race terms like African American, Spanish American, white American whatever their country of origin rather than People of Colour. The only time you need to refer to the color of someone’s skin or race is if circumstances necessitate providing a description of someone where you would also include gender, hair colour, height, weight and any other characteristics which aid recognition. Why the hell are people so prejudiced against anyone whose skin is a different colour other than white. What about hair no one seems to care what color your hair is and you are unlikely to face discrimination as a result of hair colour, so why skin?

Consider the following:

“Vegan groups or individuals will pay lip service to the notion of no racism, sexism, abelism and so on…but then do nothing about these odious implementations of oppression and/or exploitation. The sad sad truth is that if we aren’t actively working against this crap we’re (inadvertently or not) supporting it…either passively or actively.

If you oppose oppression…and then focus your efforts solely on preventing harm to one group of oppressed beings while ignoring other instances of oppression…or only paying lip service to being against those other instances…you’re sort of exposing yourself as not being real serious about ending oppression.”

Continue reading:

“White Veganism is a reference to mainstream veganism—which is, undeniably very white, narrow, one sided and ignores intersectionality. It aims to expose and erase the invisibility of oppression on other animal bodies to the masses, while simultaneously ignoring and being silent about the very visible injustice and oppression of black and brown bodies, femme bodies, or differently-abled bodies. Sometimes even utilizing the history of oppression on Black bodies and other oppressed groups as a tool to promote veganism.

Continue reading

If you are vegan there should not be any place for racism in your life or any other kind of discrimination. You may harbour such thoughts, as we cannot help what we think as many people are brought up to believe in such prejudices and the terminology attached to them may stick in your mind, but in your deeds you should not support or promote racism or any other prejudice including sexism, ageism, heterosexism, religious intolerance, intelligencism and so on and on…all bring about harm. Regarding intelligencism, though not a word used often if indeed it is a word at all, both humans and nonhuman animals are often the subject of discrimination resulting from their level of intelligence. Non human animals considered as having less intelligence are often considered less important, even by some vegans than more intelligent animals – most people care about dolphins, primates, dogs  and other animals considered more intelligent but fewer care about insects or fish, animals considered less intelligent though evidence is slowly showing that fish and insects are more intelligent than people think. But this is beside the point, the life of any creature is important to that being regardless of how intelligent an animal is, intelligence in any case measured by human criterion in comparison to human intelligence. Likewise with humans people higher on the IQ scale are considered more highly than those who rate much lower and people of lower intelligence are discriminated against, are the but of jokes, are generally poorer, paid less and marginalised.

It should be mentioned that there is a difference between a vegan diet and a vegan lifestyle. If you are embracing a vegan diet you may be doing so only for reasons of improving your health, though most people adopting a vegan diet for this purpose may be more likely to describe themselves as being on a plant-based diet.

Going vegan for some can simply mean cutting out animals derivatives in food. Such a person may continue to wear leather and in all other respects may not change their standards of ethics in regards to either human or nonhuman animals. Don’t get me wrong even if you are on a vegan/plant based diet for personal health considerations this is great news all round not only for your wellbeing but also inadvertently for animals and the environment. The above is not intended as a criticism of people on vegan diets for health reasons.

However if you are an ethical vegan your concern should include both human and nonhuman animals equally without any from of discrimination. Veganism for me is an all encompassing ethic to endeavour to avoid harm to any living being whenever possible in any form. You might find it a struggle to maintain such an ethic or even reach the point of what the Hindus, Jains and Buddhists call ahimsa (non-violence) of which Gandhi was an advocate, but please at least be mindful to do your utmost to avoid harmful actions towards human and nonhuman animals including discrimination.

More quotations from Gary L. Francione regarding veganism as an all encompassing ethic of nonviolence and non discrimination.

“We should always be clear that animal exploitation is wrong because it involves speciesism. And speciesism is wrong because, like racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-semitism, classism, and all other forms of human discrimination, speciesism involves violence inflicted on members of the moral community where that infliction of violence cannot be morally justified. But that means that those of us who oppose speciesism necessarily oppose discrimination against humans. It makes no sense to say that speciesism is wrong because it is like racism (or any other form of discrimination) but that we do not have a position about racism. We do. We should be opposed to it and we should always be clear about that.” 
Gary L. Francione

“Ethical veganism results in a profound revolution within the individual; a complete rejection of the paradigm of oppression and violence that she has been taught from childhood to accept as the natural order. It changes her life and the lives of those with whom she shares this vision of nonviolence. Ethical veganism is anything but passive; on the contrary, it is the active refusal to cooperate with injustice”
Gary L. Francione

“If you are not vegan, please consider going vegan. It’s a matter of nonviolence. Being vegan is your statement that you reject violence to other sentient beings, to yourself, and to the environment, on which all sentient beings depend.”
Gary L. Francione

“Forty-two years after Dr. King was murdered, we are still a nation of inequality. People of color, women, gays, lesbians, and others are still treated as second-class citizens. Yes, things have changed but we have still not achieved equality among all humans. And nonhuman animals continue to be chattel property without any inherent value.” 
Gary L. Francione

“Ethical veganism represents a commitment to nonviolence.” 
Gary L. Francione

Gary L. Francione is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark.”

“Professor Francione has been teaching animal rights and the law for more than 29 years, and he was the first academic to teach animal rights theory in an American law school.”

Read more about Gary L. Francione:

Related Links

The Sistah Vegan Project: A Critical Race Feminists Journey Through The ‘Post Racial’ Ethical Food Scape…And Beyond

More than a Diet, More than a Lifestyle

I am no ‘person of colour’, I am a black African woman

Concerning abortion. To avoid the need to respond to the heated comments this topic often generates I  will here state my position on abortion.

Firstly while pro life or anti abortion is seemingly more associated with the right, I state now that I am firmly left wing. Pigeonholing issues such as abortion in reference to political persuasion is in my opinion ludicrous.

Considering this,  you might find this interesting:

Being pro-life doesn’t make me any less of a lefty

My stance on abortion is that it should only be carried out in very special circumstances such as the poor health of the mother:  If the mother’s life is at risk or if she has a serious mental health condition, but the latter only after much consultation.

  Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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