VEGANISM AS A MEANS OF FIGHTING OPPRESSION

CW: Mentions of rape

This article was written by our guest-blogger and good friend Sarah Al Kaissi. She studies Architecture and she is vegan. Today she’ll be discussing feminism and veganism: movements for an equal world.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 4.07.10 PM
Picture by Roman Gasymov

Feminism is defined as equality between people, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic class, age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Living in a world where everyone is equal seems like an impossible goal, a hypothetical world, something we can only dream about. Regardless of how unachievable a world without injustices seems, it is a world that feminists strive for. Feminism is however not just an ideology. Those who believe in equality, should support and practice equality. Not all of us can have a full-time job as feminist activists, but there is so much (maybe even more) positive impact we can make within our daily choices. This can range from the influence we have on people in our social interactions to the impact of what we consume (or rather: refuse to consume) every single day. Things that we buy and use can largely contribute to the inequalities in the world among humans and non-human animals.

Speciesism
There is an ideology that causes a lot of suffering and injustice in the world. ‘Speciesism‘ is the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals. Like racism and sexism, speciesism is a form of prejudice. It is a further form of discrimination, and the reason we privilege some animals over others. Some animals we take into our homes as pets, we give them names and bring them to the vet when they are sick. Other animals we use for their flesh, skin, fur, milk or eggs. We experiment on them, trade them and use them for entertainment. Around 2.700.000.000.000 aquatic animals are dragged out of their habitat yearly. Over 56.000.000.000 farm animals are killed every year, of which over 90% are raised in factories and do not get to see day light until they are sent to the slaughterhouse. That is outside of the countless animals killed on recreational hunts. Humanity has created an animal massacre.

Feminism and veganism
There are many parallels between feminism and veganism. Veganism is a philosophy that rejects the status of animals as commodities. Vegans put into practice the respect for all sentient life, being anti-speciesist. This means that being human does not mean we are above them, or that we can privilege ourselves over them and decide their fate. Feminism is more of a political movement, fighting to change society’s impositions over women. Both movements fight against many of the same issues: oppression, objectification, rape culture and normalized problematic behavior.

To explain, here is how things go down in the meat and dairy industry, even in organic and free-range farms. Like other female mammals, cows only produce milk when they have a new-born to feed. Bulls are jacked off either by hand or a special device, and their semen is collected. Cows are then inseminated in large groups in what is literally called a ‘rape rack’. This is so that all cows give birth, and produce milk, at the same time in order to fit the milking schedule. Cows that already happen to be pregnant, get abortions and are impregnated again artificially. When the calves are born, they are directly taken away from their mothers (because her milk is for us and not for the baby), leaving the mother to cry in search for her baby. The males are killed for veal and the females become milk machines like their mom starting at the age of 12 months, forcefully impregnated over and over again against her will until she collapses and is killed for meat as well. How cruel to objectify, use and torture such beautiful and intelligent beings, that feel pain and suffering just like we do.

Just like how people naturalize problematic behavior of men with myths, traditions and excuses such as “boys will be boys”, humans try to naturalize their meat-eating behavior without questioning their morals. Similarly, scripts like “we need meat for protein”, “it doesn’t matter if they are killed humanely”, and “we’ve always eaten meat, it’s our habit/culture” are used to naturalize the violent act of killing a non-human animal to satisfy our addiction to the taste. The reality is that humans thrive on a plant based diet and there is no such thing as humane killing. Aside from that, we should know that culture does not define ethics and it does not lead morality. The fact that something is part of our habits, doesn’t make it justifiable. We must always challenge our morals and ethics.

Veganism as a means of fighting oppression
Disregard towards violence, injustice, and rape cannot be supported in any Veganism Feminism
social justice movement. So ideally, feminists should extend the justice and equality for all humans, to the justice and equality for all animals. After all, the large scale confinement and murder of animals today is not much different from the extreme oppression faced by humans in past centuries and today. Not to mention how the animal industry (and its effect on global warming, food safety and living conditions) causes immeasurable human cruelty in many communities of color and low income groups, but that deserves an article on its own.

As consumers, we have to remember that supply is driven by demand and that we can vote FOR or AGAINST this confinement and murder with our wallets. By leaving animals and their ‘byproducts’ out of your shopping lists and plates, and looking beyond our own selfish wants and habits, we can help bring humanity closer to an equal world.

More information can be found here:
Books: Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams
Documentaries: Earthlings, What The Health, Forks over Knives
Try vegan for 22 days: http://www.challenge22.com

Text: Sarah Al Kaissi
Image: Isabel Sijbrandij

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