I have something important and a little bit controversial to say. And that is that feminism and veganism are inextricably linked.
Since my foray into veganism over the last 9 months, I have come to understand that you cannot be a feminist without being a vegan, and vice versa. Let me explain why.
Feminism is based on the beliefs that men and women should be seen as equals. They should be considered in the same arena, morally and ethically, in every aspect. Why? Because there is no superior sex, therefore the oppression, dominance or preference of one over the other is morally wrong.
Veganism seeks to abolish exploitation of animals in ALL forms by boycotting the industries; food, clothing, entertainment and vivisection, that are dependent on them. Veganism at its core supports the belief that all species are equal, and should be treated with respect and equality, not repression, and dominance.
Therefore I believe feminism and veganism to be linked; exploitation, dominance and oppression are the common themes. The only differences in the victims are the species.
Let’s take humans and animals. Different species, yes, but is one more important than the other? If you answer yes, perhaps consider that social conditioning, spanning centuries, may play some part in your opinion and beliefs. Considering social conditioning was also to blame for men’s superiority over women, white’s superiority over coloured and straight people’s superiority over gay and transgender people, could, perhaps, it be the same mentality that governs our attitudes towards animals and our treatment of them?
The common theme between all oppressive, cultural beliefs is that the oppressor always assumes superiority over the oppressed. And through cultural and social conditioning, and justification usually based on a business or profitable model, it is commonly accepted. If we look at the dominance of humans over animals, we can see a common theme which has spanned centuries; We are socially conditioned to believe it to be true that we are superior, we, as a mass culture accept it to be the case based on justification that it is ‘necessary’ and it is therefore not questioned.
A mere 100 years ago, slaves were considered ‘lesser’ beings, not on the same level as others, and it was generally accepted that they were to be oppressed, dominated and exploited. Apparently ‘normal’, ‘civilised’ members of society accepted this to be true, to the point where they kept slaves themselves without ever considering the moral implications. Looking back this seems utterly absurd doesn’t it?
It also seems absurd that women could not vote, were sexual property for men and were also deemed ‘lesser’; sadly this is a movement that is still being fought the world over to this day, to gain equality between the sexes.
So take now the animal exploitation industries: Food, Clothing, Entertainment, Vivisection. It is commonly accepted that we are to ‘use’ animals for our pleasure, just as it was commonly accepted that men were to use women for their pleasure and dominate over them. Animals are considered ‘lesser’ therefore we assume it is correct to exploit them and oppress them.
The themes between all oppressed minorities are glaringly obvious, yet until we move out from the mentality of seeing the oppressed as ‘less than’, we, as a society, cannot and refuse to, see the absurdity. Not only can we not see the absurdity, but anyone who tries to voice their disagreement with that particular oppressive behaviour, is out-casted, ridiculed and attacked.
This social behaviour has been the case throughout each civil and human rights movement since time began; the ones who initially stand up and say ‘this is wrong’, are fought against and ridiculed….until the truth can no longer be turned away from and we evolve our morals accordingly.
We are now currently witnessing the beginning of the movement for the rights of animals, but if we look closely we can see a very dark element of the oppression of animals. The oppression of animals is largely if not solely, centred on the exploitation of the female of the species; in every case of animal use for food, it is the female which suffers most severely.
Their reproductive systems are used, abused and exploited in order to produce large, unnatural amounts of offspring in the shortest amount of time; to produce the most profit to the industry. Artificial insemination is necessary to keep females continuously pregnant throughout their short lives, in order to produce young for our food.
In the case of dairy; female cows are kept pregnant via insemination, in order to keep producing young calves, and therefore milk. The calves are taken away from the mother at birth and either killed for veal or raised separately to live the same fate as the mother; producing milk for human consumption.
In the case of eggs; female laying hens are kept in cramped conditions and forced to produce eggs at an abnormal rate, which are a product of their reproductive systems. Their bodies become so worn out by this constant and unnatural process, that their lives are ended very prematurely.
The bond between a mother and her baby is profoundly intense, be it a human or an animal. This bond can be observed throughout the whole of nature; yet we exploit and break this bond between animal mothers and their young, for profitable gain.
Can you imagine the pain of having your body kept in a continual state of pregnancy, only to have your precious baby stolen away from you over and over and over again? And when you are too weak, too broken, too damaged to produce any more, when your body and spirit have given up after spending your whole life being exploited for another species; you are sent to slaughter.
So, we wonder, where is the mercy?
Where was the mercy when white men enslaved coloured men? Where was the mercy when women were burnt at the stake for being ‘witches’? Where are the questions? The uproar? Where is the rioting in the streets over the atrocity of it all?
The silence we experience is a product of the deeply engrained social conditioning which allows us to accept absurdities as common place. We justify the actions of the oppressors because we are literally brainwashed into believing that we are ‘better’, ‘stronger’, ‘more intelligent’. Just as men were conditioned to think these things of themselves over women, and white people were conditioned to think these things about people of ethnic minority.
We MUST see the link. We MUST put these pieces of the same puzzle together. It is our duty to fight on behalf of the oppressed. Be that a woman, a person of ethnic minority, a gay person or an animal.
Until the world stops exploiting and dominating over female animal’s lives, motherhood and reproductive systems, how can we expect for the same problems to be eradicated in our society? The two are inextricably linked;
“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” Immanuel Kant
How can we say that men are not better than women, and one race is not better than another, but believe that humans are better than animals? And how can we accept the female exploitation of the animal world but fight against it in the human world? Are the two not linked? Aren’t the movements for the rights of minorities inclusive of animals too? Do they not suffer? Do they not feel like we do? Do they not count?
I ask you to come from a place of compassion and open your heart to my words; to the plight of the animals, to the plight of women, of black people, of gay and transgender people… so that we may all live together peacefully on this planet. So that we may eradicate the oppression of women throughout the world; human and animal alike. So we may eradicate the discrimination we still feel as a society towards ‘others’ who are ‘different’, including all colours, races and species.
I ask you to join me in the fight for true peace on earth, for true love and harmony between every living being. I ask you to help me be a voice for the voiceless. To consider the animals who are never considered. To give them hope. To show them love To set them free.. As we have so rightfully begun to do….
The above article and photos were provided by Zoe Quiney and copied with permission from her “Follow My Dreamer” blog. The original article/blog post is dated Mar 9, 2015.
Above Photo: Zoe Quiney is an author, blogger, vegan, and animal activist who writes about social justice issues, including, but not limited to, feminism and how issues such as women’s equality have striking parallels to the plight of the animals. She resides in Australia.
Paul Schulman, Vegan Fierce Webmaster