Guest Blog: Do Animal Rights Marches Advance or Hinder the Movement.

Do Animal Rights Marches Advance or Hinder the Movement?

 

I am devoted to animal liberation and veganism. It is the mainstream AR movement that white vegans have created that is the embarrassing racist/sexist uncle, for whom I refuse to make excuses.  It is hindering activism for animals—while at the same time also harming oppressed people.

 

While I’ve given up hope that the mainstream AR movement will redeem itself, it is hard to disengage after well over 30 years immersed in it (though I have been disengaging for several years). I watch, in dismay, as thoughtless, counter-productive activism, which does not serve the interests of animals, makes itself as uninviting as possible to black people, other POC, women, disabled people, fat people, gay/trans/non-binary people, immigrants, poor people—and to activists for every other social justice movement.

 

When members of these groups do become vegans, it is usually despite, not because of, the mainstream vegan movement. And many who agree with the ethical arguments for veganism, and are drawn to the ways in which veganism aligns with wider social justice goals, are put off from the message (though they agree with it) by the oppression they experience among white vegans (especially white vegan men).

 

Every social justice movement, especially in the last several years, is making alliances with other social justice movements—every movement, that is, except for the mainstream AR movement. The pro-intersectional AR movement is doing so–but they are not the ones marching down the street, patting themselves on the back as a public display of unearned pride.

 

The obliviousness to the public’s reaction to watching this parade of self-aggrandizement (and worse, the reaction of potential/attainable allies in other social justice movements) is an embarrassment to those who have talked and written endlessly about the house-cleaning that needs to be done by our movement.

 

It is a good thing for the animals, oppressed communities, and veganism, when individuals from groups either intentionally or thoughtlessly made unwelcome by the mainstream, form their own vegan groups, bringing a needed collaboration and alliance between animal rights and broader social justice issues. With any luck, this will become the vanguard, the public face of, veganism. The white mainstream can follow this innovative lead or stay stagnant and moribund. 

 

A parade for and by a group of oppressed humans (accompanied by their allies, marching in solidarity) is not the same as a parade of humans, for animals. Of course, it is the nature of animal rights that the activism is done entirely by one group (humans) for another group (non-human animals). In this latter case, the marchers are not the victims, though AR people sometimes act like they are. Animal activists frequently identify, to a self-deluded degree, with suffering non-human animals, but they are not the suffering animals (as Pattrice Jones has noted). It does not help animals for people to put themselves on display, as the center of attention—that attention belongs to the animals.

 

Animal Rights is every bit as important a cause as any other. There is no hierarchy of worth. But, public perception must be taken into consideration. With all of the preventable suffering going on in every area of the planet (due to capitalism, global warming, racism, lack of empathy, and other human-created symptoms of short sightedness, greed, and depraved indifference to suffering), it comes across as insensitive for a movement that has made it clear that it does not care about any aspect of human suffering to make a spectacle of itself. 

 

What are the stated goals of, and hoped-for gains, from, animal rights marches? Have years of marches, itself, made these goals more attainable? I suggest that they, and the assumptions and practices on which they rest have made them less attainable. What are [some of] these practices and assumptions?

 

·         that in your face activism works

·         lack of concern with how the message is received

·         focus on converting young, able-bodied white people

·         disinterest in anyone but the above

·         anger at the non-white and/or not-young and/or not able-bodied for not getting the message that has not even been thoughtfully conveyed to their communities

·         lack of concern for systemic obstructions that keep people in survival mode, with little energy to consider the plight of animals

·         no concern, let alone help, forthcoming for the above, from the mainstream AR movement

·         that merchandising women’s bodies (and promoting misogynistic standards of beauty for women) goes unchallenged by the mainstream as a major way to sell veganism to the public (when there is data that shows that it is counter-productive: https://moneyish.com/ish/heres-proof-that-sex-doesnt-sell/)

·         not questioning why “the public” to which the above message is aimed (straight, non-feminist men) has become the de facto main focus for a movement that is actually women-driven

·         lack of discussion of the use of women as handmaidens to the “important” activists—the white men in charge

·         little, if any, movement to change the white-male-centric movement, even after documentation of multiple instances of sexual abuse and bullying of women by white males in position of power in AR groups

·         anger at POC and women for starting their own movements, in the face of exclusion of them from the mainstream movement

 

If you want to march, march as vegan allies to other social justice groups. Be out there at BLM rallies, health-care-for-all marches, pro-Palestinian demos, anti-violence to women gatherings. Don’t be there to promote veganism, but be there because you care. Your presence will demonstrate that not all vegans deserve the justifiable stereotype of caring about no other issue except animals. And if you do fit that stereotype, stay home and start reading about other social justice movements, and how intersecting systems of oppression cannot be pried apart.

 

Read Kimberle Crenshaw, who coined the term intersectionality, in order to expose how the intersections of race and gender specifically affect black women (https://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/04/kimberl-crenshaw-intersectionality-i-wanted-come-everyday-metaphor-anyone-could ).

 

Read what black vegans have to say about mainstream veganism. Read their more advanced take on animal rights–and amplify their voices. The most original thinking on animal rights and veganism is not coming from the white males who dominate these movements and who have made it inclusive and harmful to so many.

 

It can be challenging to care about other humans, when you see how so many of them treat animals, but by ignoring the suffering of people, you are going to make them far less likely to reconsider their stance on animals. Open your activism to other social justice movements and learn about their issues. And learn about what marginalized vegans experience from a privilege-dominated (dominated by power, not by numbers) movement. Do it because it is the right thing to do and because the animals deserve better than the stale, non-inclusive activism that marks the mainstream movement. 

 

Doing AR work is heart breaking and we need fun and a respite from the human-caused suffering we daily witness.   How about a city-wide picnic (or other fun event) to which the public and other social justice groups are invited, instead of a march that will leave many observers puzzled, angry, or uninterested?

 

This was not meant to chastise individuals holding marches. I assume that they hold marches with the best of intentions, but the animals need more than good intentions and counter-productive spectacles. And so do the people whom we harm with our biases and exclusivity, and with our ignorance of their (frequently life-and-death) issues.

 

Susan Gordon lives in New Jersey, USA and has been vegan for 34 years. She is active in pro-intersectional animal rights, justice for Palestine, feminism, racial justice, anti-ableism, and anti-fat shaming.

Discussion welcome.

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My thoughts on Vegan Pride.

In June 1969 the movement for LGBTQIA+ equality and liberation began. A series of riots took place centring around the Stonewall Inn in New York. These riots were instigated by transgender women of colour and the next year, the first Pride Parade was held.  (You can read more about the history of Pride HERE.)

In recent years Pride has been the victim of commercialisation, police acceptance and the perpetrator of documented trans and bisexual erasure. We are fighting a battle within our own movement to reclaim our heritage and our purpose. We forget that trans women of colour started our journey to liberation because of police aggression and centre our celebrations around cis gay men.

All is not lost however. Various Pride’s around the world now incorporate political blocs. I was part of one that was removed from Pride by the police in the summer of 2017. Those who are fed up of Pride being taken from us, have splintered and created their own after parade parties, much of them political in nature and centring around queer and trans people especially those of BAME origin.

In the world outside of Pride and our little queer families we tend to make for ourselves, the struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights continues. Transphobia and homophobia are rife in schools, workplaces and the media. There’s a moral panic about trans children in the UK media which is damaging communities already on the edge of society. We’ve already had one trans woman murdered in 2018. How many more are we going to lose?

Then there’s the intersex babies that no one talks about. The babies who’s sex and gender are decided for them at birth and surgery undertaken to change their ambiguous genitals so they match the sex the parents have decided for them. There are many documented of cases of ongoing psychological damage in intersex adults.

So with all of that to contend with, I was surprised to see an event in London calling itself, “Vegan Pride.” It takes after various events around the world, including one in Toronto which after it’s first year had to rename itself due to uproar from the LGBTQIA+ community.

So why “Vegan Pride?” Why not any other number of names it could have been that doesn’t have any LGBTQIA+ association? London Vegan Parade? March for Veganism? Vegans United Parade? Nope. They HAD to appropriate queer culture and use it for themselves.

Some people have mistaken it as a parade for LGBTQIA+ vegans, but it’s anything but. If you go onto the Facebook event you’ll see a big group of privileged cis white vegans claiming they are oppressed for an ethical choice they have chosen to make, “all lives matter” rhetoric and certain people who have known Nazi affiliations. I even saw a cis friend of mine silence queer people’s objections to them stealing our culture. I was shocked and suddenly felt really unsafe. I’ve yet to confront him about it. Maybe he’ll see this and realise what he’s done. 😦 The event organisers are banning any LGBTQIA+ people who comment objecting, thus silencing our objection.

The whole event is really off putting for vegans and non-vegans alike. It waters down everyone’s message. The message for queer liberation, the ongoing struggles of queer POC and it screams of human centricity. What about the animals?

The worst part? It clashes with one of the biggest and most prolific Pride events in theUK: Brighton Pride.

Please remember that vegans are not oppressed. Oppression needs a power structure to uphold it. Your uncle making bacon jokes or you not being able to get a decent sandwich for lunch is not oppression. It’s just difficulties from a life choice that you have made, a choice which so many other people do not have, putting you in a position of privilege not misfortune. Queer and trans people did not choose and cannot unchoose who they are, like you can with your veganism.

In closing I would like to ask you to boycott this event and tell people why you are doing it, especially if you are an ally. We need you more now than ever.

Chorizo & Rosemary Pearl Barley Risotto

I love risotto and I love chorizo, but I’d honestly not thought of combining them until recently. I’m so glad I did because the flavour and texture of this dish is unrivalled.

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of VBites chorizo style pieces
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • Approx 300g of dry pearl barley
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 stalk of fresh rosemary
  • 1 can of higher end chopped tomatoes

First up get a nice big pan on the hob, warming up. Soy based chorizo isn’t as fatty as it’s pig’s flesh alternative, but it still produces a small amount of oil when heated up. Pour the entire contents of your chorizo pack into the pan and allow to frazzle for about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and place to one side in a bowl.

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Now the pan should have a thin coating of oily, spicy, paprika goodness. Chuck in your chopped onion and minced garlic. Allow them to brown a little before adding in the pearl barley. Stir well ensuring that the barley is well coated. Add in your chopped tomatoes. ( Look I don’t normally go in for high end products, but I would recommend a higher end tinned chopped tomatoes in this recipe, because they tend to use vine tomatoes and they give a more intense flavour.) Mix and then add all of the vegetable stock. Unlike arborio rice risotto you can chuck it all in at once, but you need to sir it often.

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You may have to add extra water as the sauce thickens because the pearl barley takes about 30 minutes to cook.

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When you’re happy that the barley is cooked and the sauce has thickened to your liking, add the chopped rosemary and chorizo. Turn off the heat and serve.

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Full of punchy flavours for you to enjoy. X

The Vegan Police

This subject has been simmering in my head for quite some time. It is a subject for contention within the vegan community and it needs addressing.

Let’s start with the Vegan Society and their definition of veganism:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The Vegan Society are these days a bunch of welfarists, so I came up with an abolitionist definition too:

Veganism is a way of living that supports the social justice movement of the abolition of animal use by humans. Vegans seek to exclude all forms of exploitation as far as possible in a non-vegan world.

That’s pretty simple, right? If you’re vegan you do not support or promote any type of animal exploitation. That includes vegetarianism, honey, horse riding etc too. Veganism isn’t a diet. That’s pretty clear in both those definitions too, right? So why is the internet full of people confusing what veganism means? What do they have to gain by doing that?

When I went vegan a decade ago, the term Vegan Police was little heard of. I had only heard of it because I was part of The Vegan Forum. (We didn’t have Facebook then.) The term was used for vegans who took things too far. For example people who wouldn’t buy a vegan product from a company because the director played golf with someone who wore fur once. That’s really ridiculous and it does nothing for animals.

In 2010, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World changed all of that. In the movie there is “vegan” guy who has his super powers taken away by the vegan police because he was caught eating chicken. With the availability of social media such as Facebook, the meaning was soon lost, even though clearly in the film, the vegan police are calling out actual non-veganism.

Now, if you call out any non-veganism you get called elitist or my favourite, the vegan police. Why? I’m defending what veganism is. You’re either vegan or you’re supporting the exploitation of animals.

Facebook is full of this, especially the Vegan Humour group where people seem to endlessly worship celebrities, who 9/10 are not vegan at all. Let’s take Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes he’s a good looking man. Yes he was a producer for Cowspiracy. Yes he spouts a lot of environmental stuff. No he isn’t vegan and when I last checked, he didn’t even follow a plant based diet, synonymous with his environmentalism. He’s just full of shit.

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Credit where credit is due? Do I need to explain this again? This is a vegan, promoting non-veganism. This person is saying we should support Leo because he speaks out for the environment. That’s great, but it still doesn’t make him vegan or even moving towards veganism.

Adopting a plant based diet and being vegan are two very different things. People don’t stop wearing leather for their health or stop going to the zoo for the environment. They adopt a plant based diet and continue to exploit animals in other ways. People who are on a plant based diet still exploit animals and promoting that isn’t vegan because it hurts animals. Does that make sense?

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Here’s another one and this time it’s Miley Cyrus. She is on plant based diet the last time I checked, but she isn’t vegan because she exploits animals in other ways.

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Grow up? What for standing up for animals? For not accepting less than veganism because less than veganism hurts animals?

Here’s another one where someone posted a recipe with honey in a vegan food group. For pointing out that honey isn’t vegan, I was told I was rude. No, I’m not being rude. I’m standing up for what veganism is.

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Due to the internet, it seems to meaning of veganism is being diluted again and again. You have vegans promoting people who aren’t vegan. You have vegans saying it’s ok to eat oysters, backyard eggs and honey. You have people interested in veganism, going WHAT THE FUCK!?

Let’s be consistent. Let’s call out non-veganism and those who promote it.

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That’s not to say we shouldn’t help those trying to go vegan. Of course we should. That’s what we want right? When someone takes a step towards veganism, I find that this sentence is my best weapon and often results in full on vegan transition in a short period of time.

“That’s great! Just remember that only veganism ends the exploitation of animals.”

Imagine how many “vegetarians” would wake up with just that sentence. After all most people are vegetarian because they care about animals. That’s not being preachy, elitist or rude. That’s being honest, but supportive.

In conclusion, we are a fractured movement split even more by the internet and it’s ability to be faceless. I will always stand up for what veganism is and I will never suffer anyone who wishes to water it down. It doesn’t make veganism more accessible, it just hurts the animals.

Lot’s of love, Queer Vegan .

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Vegan Cheese & Chutney Parcels

I don’t very often cook with pastry. It’s far too much like baking for me. However with the availability of fresh vegan pastry now widespread, I thought I’d give it a go.Blog 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of JusRol fresh filo pastry
  • Poppy seeds
  • 5 small new potatoes
  • 1 carrot, peeleds
  • A small handful of curly kale
  • Caramelised red onion chutney
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 block of Violife vegan cheese, grated

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Method:

  • Get the oven on a medium heat.
  • Dice the potatoes and carrots and place in a pan of water, allowing to boil before turning the heat off.
  • Heat a pan, drain the potatoes and carrots and place in the pan with the kale and chutney.
  • Stir in the herbs and spices. Stir occasionally until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
  • Roll out the pastry and cut into squares. Place a large spoonful of the pan mixture into the centre of the square and top with cheese.
  • Fold the edges up over the mixture and sprinkle with poppy seeds. (You should have enough for four large parcels.)
  • Place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm with ketchup.

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If you want to make your pastry, feel free. This isn’t Masterchef so I’ll take that short cut. 🙂

Blogs on Mushroom Laksa and The Vegan Police coming soon.

 

 

Anna Loka: A Review

Anna Loka is a brand new vegan restaurant in the Roath area of Cardiff.  I had  been hearing some great things about the day time cafe menu, but they didn’t have an evening opening so I held back on visiting.

Recently they started to open in the evenings from 6pm. We booked for a table of ten to celebrate my imminent marriage to the bearded one.

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They offered 3 courses for £19.95, so of course we had the full lot. Here’s what was on offer:

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I had the pumpkin arancini. It was crunchy on the outside and  gooey on the inside. The sweet tomato and herb sauce really complimented the the richness of the arancini. wpid-wp-1445193405256.jpeg wpid-wp-1445193583241.jpeg

My friends and family all had different dishes and were very happy with their choices. I had a few bites of everyone else’s, including eating the pansies from my mum’s salad, which the whole table found amusing.

Falafel.

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Beetroot Cappaccio.

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Southern fried vegetables.

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The main course was something altogether. Mine was absolutely mind blowing! I had the seitan steak. It was like roast beef, smothered in a beautiful gravy with perfect mustard mash and crunchy green vegetables. They even made the seitan themselves.

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My brother had the baked aubergine. He said it was good. I didn’t like it. I thought the aubergine was under cooked and the flavours didn’t seem quite right. Mismatched almost. It looked great though.

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The rest of the family had the raviollo. I tasted some and it was herby, fresh and full of flavour. It was a great dish, but I preferred my steak.

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We tried each other’s puddings and agreed that they were all amazing. I’d order any of them again. Personally, even though I ordered the creme brulee (and it had the crack when I broke the crunchy topping) , I thought the parfait was the star of the desserts.

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I give Anna Loka a 9.5 out of 10. The 0.5 will be remedied when I can have a nice glass of red wine with my steak. (They intend to bring in alcohol in the future.) The service was excellent and the food outstanding overall.

I’ll be popping in to try the breakfast and lunch menu at some point in the future too.

 

Spiced Butterbean & Sweetcorn Soup

It’s certainly Autumn here in the Welsh valleys. I’m wrapped up nice and warm with a cup of tea whilst I write this.

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With the cold in mind, I came up with a delicious and hearty soup to warm your cockles.

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp of oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 can of chopped tomatoes (and then fill the can back up for a can of water to add too.)

1 can of sweetcorn, drained

A large handful of dry red lentils

1 tbsp of chilli flakes

1 tbsp of cumin

Salt and pepper to flavour

1 can of butterbeans, drained

A handful of fresh baby leaf spinach

A dollop of vegan mayo to cool if needed

 

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Method:

  1. In a large pan, fry the onion and garlic in the oil for approximately 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, with all the herbs and spices, mixing well and keeping the heat medium.
  3. Add the lentils and water and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Now add the sweetcorn and butterbeans, mixing throughout.
  5. Does it smell great yet? If not, add more herbs and spices to get it to your liking.
  6. Turn up the heat for the last five minutes of cooking and add the baby leaf spinach.
  7. Enjoy with a good dollop of creamy mayo, sour cream or your own homemade aquafaba goodness.

This dish is full of protein and will fill you up for sure.

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