Why Feminism and Veganism Go Hand in Hand

by April 17, 2013
filed under Activism

Chipotle Grilled Tofu Tostadas

My vegan journey began over a year ago. First I went vegetarian after doing research and watching countless documentaries. I wanted to do it for ethical reasons, but had no idea where to start. 2 weeks later I was no longer missing having meat in my diet. With the help of the internet and some great cookbooks, I made great meals but was still eating cheese. I used to think to myself, “I could never give up cheese, I love pizza too much!” But after more research, I went vegan after 2 months.

One of the books I read was the “Sexual Politics of Meat” by Carol J Adams. Carol writes from a feminist perspective, critiquing meat-eating as a patriarchal act. In many cultures, and during different times in human history, meat was saved for only men when there was a shortage. Carol also argues that women are treated like animals in our society, in which they are commodified, objectified and treated like a piece of meat.

We know what happens when we objectify a living being: They become an object and violence is the result. Carol’s book blew my mind. As a self-identifying feminist for many years, I had not put women and animal rights together. How had I missed the connection? How had I not learned about the exploitation of dairy animals in feminist circles and women’s studies classes? In class, we discussed rape, but we were not talking about the daily rape of female cows and the chick culling of male chicks. I am not here to preach to you about going vegan, but as a feminist I feel it is important to educate others on the intersectionality of the rights of women and animals.

I am particularly troubled by the lack of concern and value some have for other species’ motherhood. On dairy farms after a cow gives birth, the calf is taken away from her within a day, if not immediately. Female caves are destined to have the same “life” as their mother. That “life” entails an ongoing cycle of insemination, pumping of hormones and giving birth to calves she will never have a relationship with. Male caves are taken away and are put in veal crates. After the male caves are put into the awful conditions, they are killed within 2 months of their birth.

After giving birth, cow mothers will search and call for their babies many times for months at a time, but will never reconnect with their caves. Animals are emotional beings and denying them the right to their own free will denies them their own autonomy. As we know feminists in the past and present are fighting for women’s autonomy all over the world, it is important to fight for animals as well. I am not a mother, but I greatly respect motherhood whether it is a mother giving birth in a hospital, in a barn, in a grassy field or at home. It is time we see and value motherhood of all living creatures.

As a feminist who is committed to ending oppression for all living beings, I am frustrated with the lack of concern other feminists have when it comes to the suffering of non-human species. I recently wrote to a well-known feminist blog (I am not going to name names) to discuss this issue, but I did not receive an email back and to this day they have not published an article on this issue. I have feminist friends who are not vegan and I respect their choice not to be, as they respect my choice to be vegan. If they have questions about my veganism I inform them about my diet and what I have learned; I know not every feminist is going to become vegan.

I would like to conclude with this thoughtful quote from Professor Francione an American legal scholar at Rutgers University: “To say that you are a feminist but not a vegan is like saying you are a feminist but don’t care about the women of a particular race or economic class; it merely substitutes specisism for racism or classism. As long as we treat women like meat, we will continue to treat animals as meat. All oppression is related.” -Professor Gary Francione.

Check out Amanda’s vlog on the subject here.

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