Veganism and feminism are inseparable concepts in my life.

This blog is a theoretical interpretation of the lived experiences of a vegan feminist,
and an exploration of what it even means to be one in the first place.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vegan Feminist Claims

Right now I identify vegan feminist theory mainly with Carol J. Adams. I'm sure that there are plenty of other theorists out there (and that I'll love them all!), but wading through vegan feminist literature and actually understanding it seems to always come back to her for me. One of the first "ah ha!" vf moments I had was when I was reading the Tom Tyler interview of Carol J. Adams for Parallax. You can read the original interview here.

The first time I read the article I stopped and focused on Carol J. Adams' 4 vegan feminist claims, because the idea of trying to simplify a small part of vegan feminism really appealed to me as a person who still didn't really understand vegan feminism. I remember thinking how brilliant the concepts were, but only after I spent 5 minutes thinking about each one and putting them in different words that made more sense to me. Then I thought - well maybe I should put these theories in other words so they make sense the first time I read them. These are those other words. Think of the following as a summary, interpretation of, and homage to Carol J. Adams' original theory.

1. Food choice is a relationship with another animal. Vegans choose a relationship where the other animal is acknowledged and thus not eaten or used. Non vegans (she calls them flesh eaters) choose a relationship where the other animal is ignored, forgotten, dominated, and murdered.

2. Vegans want reproductive freedom for all female animals. The "food" industries requires female animals to be kept constantly pregnant to produce children for their flesh, constantly lactating to produce milk, and constantly ovulating to produce eggs. The names of these animals represents their own physical enslavement and are used as insults to enslave female humans.

3. Eating animals literally stops us from questioning the undisturbed category of "farmed animals". The actual act of using a fork on a piece of flesh erases everything.

4. Humans are "one animal among many". In saying this vegan feminists acknowledge we are like other animals and try to eliminate the idea that animals are other and we are the one. Vegan feminists say that because we are like other animals we don't want to force our relationship with other animals to be based on consumption, where those vertically higher on the hierarchy only interact with other animals through consumption. We would like to have different and more positive relationships with other animals.

In reflecting on these claims many things come to mind. 1 and 4 seem to replicate the same concept with a focus on different details; both acknowledge a relationship of dominance inherent to a relationship of consumption. 3 is so theoretical I think I understood it properly, but I could be completely wrong. If I do understand it, it seems to restate 1. This is important because it shows both the complexity and interwoven nature of vegan feminist theory; it constantly refers to itself before moving on in new directions.

Claim 2 stands out for me because it could be the defining reason for vegan feminism. Recently if someone asks me why I am vegan, a differently worded explanation of claim 2 is the reason I give because it speaks to me as both a feminist and a vegan. I think claim 2 could stand alone as its own manifesto.

Rewriting these claims helped me realize how specific and personal they are. These are Carol J. Adams' claims and they illustrate her personal experience of vegan feminism. I'm sure there are dozens of others claims one could write and they wouldn't be more or less right than hers, just different. I think that's one of the most important things I took away from these claims - they are one interpretation and a good place to start, but they are not the end or the only.

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