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Wednesday, January 28 2015 @ 12:13 PM CST

Veganism is a consumer activity

News ArchiveThe fact of the matter is, capitalism treats animals horribly. While many civilizations have normalized abusive behavior towards animals, capitalism tops them all in the intensity, frequency, and invisibility of apathetic exploitation mixed with repeated moments of sadistic cruelty. And while many civilizations have also destroyed their local environments, capitalism, as a global system with an unprecedented level of technological power, is the first to carry ecocide to a global scale. Sheerly in underspoken quantitative terms, the biodiversity and biomass of Planet Earth today is the lowest it has ever been in human history. There is obviously a connection between capitalism's abuse of animals, its destruction of the environment, and its oppression and abuse of humans. Veganism is a consumer activity

by Peter Gelderloos

The fact of the matter is, capitalism treats animals horribly. While many civilizations have normalized abusive behavior towards animals, capitalism tops them all in the intensity, frequency, and invisibility of apathetic exploitation mixed with repeated moments of sadistic cruelty. And while many civilizations have also destroyed their local environments, capitalism, as a global system with an unprecedented level of technological power, is the first to carry ecocide to a global scale. Sheerly in underspoken quantitative terms, the biodiversity and biomass of Planet Earth today is the lowest it has ever been in human history. There is obviously a connection between capitalism's abuse of animals, its destruction of the environment, and its oppression and abuse of humans.

Because a large portion of the abuse of animals is caused by the meat industry, many concerned people automatically respond with a prohibition on the consumption of meat. A lack of history, of knowledge of the diversity of human societies, of understanding of capitalism—even of what consumption is—and lingering Christian morality, have fiercely conflated a concern for animals with veganism. But a vegan diet is not the only logical response to ecocide and animal abuse, while veganism as a political position is often blinding and counterproductive.

The crux of the matter is, veganism is a consumer activity. It is ultimately an attempt to change capitalism and human civilization through the exercise of one's privileges as a consumer. This is an impossible approach. To understand why, let's first define the problem.

Meat production as it exists in industrial capitalist society is inherently cruel. It cannot be made otherwise. Any time an animal must be transformed into a product and processed according to market logic, the most heartless and unfeeling kinds of exploitation will be utilized as a matter of course, as a business necessity, while simultaneously the workers in this industry will lash out in frequent moments of sadism—this is the inevitable psychological response of humans who must act as machines.

Thus, a vegan diet may be seen as a sensible response by people who want to minimize their involvement with the meat industry in an industrial capitalist society. But this is not a universal context, whereas veganism markets itself as a universal solution. PETA has declared that you can't be a meat-eating environmentalist, and most vegans believe this line or toe it explicitly. What vegans have failed to think out is that industrial capitalism has not existed forever, nor have human societies always been ecocidal or abusive towards animals. In fact, to avoid eurocentric conclusions vegans must admit that the first and the very best environmentalists eat meat. I refer to a number of indigenous societies, past and present, that have the best track record of living in harmony with the environment and seeing other species as their extended families. Especially since vegans put so much emphasis on the impacts of an individual's lifestyle, they (being nearly all residents of wealthy countries) are deluding themselves and the broader communities to which they advertise their image as the preeminent environmentalists, considering that these omnivorous non-capitalist societies had a much lower ecological footprint and a much deeper affinity for animals than anyone socialized in an industrial society can ever gain in their lifetimes.

A few vegans have pointed out in their literature that in fact some indigenous societies living in harmony with nature have practiced a vegan diet, therefore... This is the sort of ignorant statement that makes one want to bang his head against a wall. (For one, I've never seen evidence to back the claim up, and it could easily be another of the spurious factoids that some vegans disseminate). What the proponents of this view fail to understand is that a lifestyle is not (until recently, in some parts of the world) a consumer choice. In eco-harmonious societies, lifestyles or economies (including diet) derive from different ways of relating to the natural environment that prove to be sustainable over time. In other words, outside of consumerism, possible lifestyles vary according to local environmental conditions. In most parts of the world, a vegan lifestyle is simply not sustainable: foods, fuels, and materials for clothing and tools would have to be imported. This is to say, in most parts of the world it is more ecologically sustainable for humans to kill animals. Beyond hunter-gatherer economies, horticultural and agricultural systems are also often healthier with the integration of animals.

Another vegan argument that makes sense in an industrial capitalist society but not in an ecologically sustainable society is that meat consumption contributes to world hunger and destruction of the environment because domesticated animals require a huge amount of resources to feed them. A vegetarian requires x number of acres to meet her dietary needs whereas a meat eater requires x times ten. This is absolutely true in the idiotically organized system of industrial agriculture, but not necessarily true in other circumstances. On a permaculture farm in many climates, for example, integrating chickens into the farm enhances rather than diminishes the food supply. While a factory farm would require hundreds of acres of, say, soybean crops to feed the thousands of chickens they keep locked up, a few dozen chickens on a small permaculture farm are a part of the ecosystem. A tiny portion of the produce must be devoted just for chicken food, but the vast majority of their nutrition comes from the food waste of the human inhabitants of the farm (the compost) and especially from the farm itself. After the harvest of a particular vegetable bed, the chickens are turned loose in it. They eat all the scraps, the parts of the plants the humans don't eat, and they eat the bugs, meanwhile scratching up (aerating) the soil and pooping in it (fertlizing), increasing fertility and thus increasing the total amount of food, which is further supplemented with their eggs and, potentially but not necessarily, their meat. A farm is healthier when it is tended and allowed to develop as a miniature ecosystem (and these methods of farming will constitute the agriculture of the future if humans are to have a future) and ecosystems are not complete without animal involvement.

Vegans, and all of us, should be more aware that it is very easy to farm a piece of land to death with only corn, or wheat, or any other monocrop. On land that has been farmed to death, as well as much arid land in the world, the only thing that can grow is grass. Farming is practically impossible. But one farming practice that can restore the health of the land is cattle farming. Herd animals are native to arid grasslands, and with the guidance of permaculture practices, cows or other herd animals can be raised without damaging the environment, and if we are talking about over-farmed land in a temperate, moist climate, sustainable cattle farming can heal the land to the point where vegetable farming can again take place. For another writing project, I interviewed an ecological cattle farmer in western Virginia whose family had gotten some land that had been farmed to death, and after a few decades of sustainable cattle farming using herding practices that mimick grazing patterns in a state of nature (as well as a philosophy that he was a “grass farmer,” i.e. growing healthy grass that would sustain the cows rather than producing cow meat as conventional farmers view it), earthworm growth and levels of organic matter in the soil reached superlative levels, while several ravines that had been caused by erosion naturally filled in. In the end, ecological animal herding can reverse desertification, increase the total amount of arable land available, and increase the total food supply.

There is no coherent morality or ethics rooted in nature that can view the killing and eating of animals as wrong. In nature, killing and eating something is a respectful, intimate activity, and a necessary part of natural cycles. Viewing this as wrong is nothing but a shockingly alienated, civilized view that domesticates animals at a metaphysical level by reducing them to quasi-citizens in need of rights. Fuck that shit. Humans and all other animals are much more free and full outside of legal frameworks, without rights, only needs and desires.

Humans have evolved as ominvores. In many parts of the world, humans are a natural predator in the native ecosystem. This is a natural role we have relinquished, often to disastrous effect. In my home, the mid-Atlantic region of North America, the overpopulation of deer is destroying what remains of the forests. Native species of trees, which they generally find the tastiest, cannot regenerate, because all the saplings get eaten up in the winter. I myself have tried to reforest part of a watershed in suburban Virginia which I personally protected from lawnmowers, only to have the deer destroy the trees and preserve the reign of monoculture grass yards. The lack of forested areas along river valleys is a major factor in killing the Chesapeake Bay, which is one of the most important breeding grounds for marine life in the North Atlantic. My grandparents live on the Chesapeake, and they and many of their friends used to harvest small amounts of crabs, oysters, and fish, mostly for their own diet. Many of these aquatic populations have collapsed in recent years. Human consumption was a stress on the ecosystem, but the major cause of the death of the Chesapeake is pollution and runoff coming from the suburbs (where many people rich enough to consume enlightened diets douse their not-so-enlightened lawns with fertilizer and pesticides). It should be no surprise that the fishermen were some of the more vocal defenders of the Chesapeake Bay. It must also be remembered that the Chesapeake used to be literally thick with fish and shellfish, which made up an important point of the ecologically sustainable and animal friendly diet of the indigenous inhabitants.

Returning to the deer, in many parts of eastern North America their only natural predators are wolves, cougars, and humans. A few places can still support wolf and cougar populations, and these should be defended fiercely wherever they remain or are attempting to reintroduce themselves. But given human population levels on the east coast, it is impossible in most areas for wolves or cougars to take up residence. That only leaves humans. We currently have no practical solution for the high human population, though the struggle to abolish the car culture is a vital step in reducing the impact of that population. In the meantime, the ecosystem can't wait. If we did have any influence over the diets of a significant portion of our society, the best thing to do on the east coast would be to cut out consumption of tropical fruits, soy, hell, all non-local produce, and sharply reduce meat to a little bit of chicken and beef from local organic farms, and, importantly, deer, that we preferably hunt ourselves. This would be the most ecologically sustainable diet in the short term for the bioregion I live in. The vegans almost get it right on one point—the amount of meat eaten there on average is way too high—but they completely ignore another point, conveniently leaving out how much damage they are doing by the quantity of tofu and bananas most of them eat.

Veganism is a consumer choice within present day capitalist society. Stripping it of its moral universality, we can better evaluate its appropriateness, if an honest evaluation is what we actually desire.

As a political strategy, is veganism effective? (Significantly, I rarely hear vegans pose this question to themselves). I know of no general, unlimited boycott, in the long history of the boycott tactic, that has been able to eliminate an entire industry at the magnitude we're talking about, nor do I know of any partial victories that suggest it may be possible with improved efforts. Targeted boycotts can be effective, especially when backed by sabotage actions, but when the boycott is not levied against a specific target—a product or company, but against an entire industry and huge class of goods, it simply cannot work. A great example of a successful international boycott was the campaign against Shell Oil for South Africa divestment, and its most effective component were the many attacks on property. We should note that this campaign did not require participants to abstain from oil consumption, which is impossible in a capitalist society.

As an ideology, veganism fails to understand capitalism and ecology. It is incontestable that to save animals and the planet, capitalism must be abolished. Emphasizing the dubious power of consumer choices sabotages the fight against capitalism and ecocide. Existing as consumers, which is a role involuntarily imposed on all of us, is not compatible with nature, and in the long run the vegan diet is not the same as an ecological diet. The most important factors are not the presence or absence of meat, but if the food is local, and if it is sustainably produced. Today, only a limited number of people can achieve this lifestyle. The point is not to be one of those people, it is to abolish capitalism and develop ecological perspectives within anti-capitalist movements (and anti-capitalist perspectives within ecological movements, which are not one in the same only because of short-sightedness in each movement). Many vegans have done vital work spreading environmental consciousness (as have many omnivores). But as a whole veganism tends to spread a false consciousness. It misrepresents what means are capable of creating an ecological society and what lifestyles an ecological society could sustain. Vegans have spread the lie that you can't be a meat-eating environmentalist, and suppressed the truth that you can't be a capitalist environmentalist.

Instructive is the ease with which capitalism has accomodated vegan consumer choices in many countries—how easy it is now to shop vegan in the UK, Nederland, and most of the US. This encourages us to imagine, what if veganism succeeded? What if everyone or nearly everyone in wealthy countries adopted a vegan diet? The meat industry would collapse, but other industries and capitalism as a whole would continue, leaving us with the contradiction of a vegan society liberating animals in the limited sense understood by the critique of factory farming, but destroying the environment nonetheless, and all the animals with it.

Vegan or non-vegan consumers cannot destroy capitalism and save the planet, nor does veganism necessarily prefigure an ecological society. We will destroy capitalism and save the planet outside our involuntary role as consumers. Veganism as a boycott does not work. Within capitalism, a decrease in demand can lower prices, and increase total consumption. Those treacherous reformists who spread the lie of energy efficient lightbulbs and so forth have helped energy consumption skyrocket. Throughout the 80s and 90s, greater energy efficiency lowered energy prices and allowed the major consumers—the factories and shopping malls—to consume much more. Similarly, while the number of vegetarians and vegans in the US exploded from almost none to a sizeable minority in the last decades, total meat consumption did not decrease, in fact it increased. Let's be blunt. Y'all talk about saving animals but you haven't made a dent. It's much easier to be a vegan these days, capitalist production has created a niche for you, but no fewer imprisoned animals are being slaughtered in the factory process. Doesn't that highlight a need to reevaluate strategies? Or is veganism something other than an attempt to liberate animals? (More on this in the next section).

I have not seen vegans spread the awareness of the capitalist market that their strategy requires, nor engage in the amount of self-evaluation that is compatible with an honest desire to save the planet. The typical posture seems more like being on the side of the good guys as everything goes to hell.


...and a moral highground approaching religious proportions

For this reason, I think it is fair to point out the ways that veganism is more similar to a religion than to a liberation strategy. I think it's great for people to decide, as a personal choice, not to consume meat, especially if they could never bring themselves to kill or slaughter an animal. I personally was vegetarian for eight years, and came much closer to veganism in the last part before suddenly becoming an omnivore again in response to racist exclusions I witnessed from some white vegans. Currently, I do not consume the meat of domesticated mammals (noting that scavenging and stealing are not consumption in the capitalist sense). At a strictly personal level, I do not want to raise an animal with whom I can develop an emotional relationship, for the purpose of killing it. I could kill a bird or a fish to eat, and I have, because I do not think they are capable of recognizing me or any other individual, and therefore I cannot form an emotional relationship with them that is not narcissistic or one-sided. I also think that hunting a wild animal for food is respectful and emotionally healthy. That's just me.

Veganism dismisses personal and emotional considerations by declaring what is acceptable for everyone. This is a religious characteristic. Secondly, veganism takes moral prohibitions that are not logical within nature but only within a specific historical context and universalizes and mystifies them. Thirdly, veganism is missionary. As a fairly deserved generalization, y'all try to convert. Having been a vegetarian, I know that people in the mainstream who have never developed enough of an ecological consciousness to do so little as change their diet try to convert, marginalize, or mock veggies a whole lot more, so we can see this as a defensive reaction. But then, perhaps Christian self-righteousness also originally came out of their persecution. In the end, it doesn't matter much.

Spreading information about animal cruelty, about the meat industry, about the destruction of the environment, is admirable and necessary. Spreading the idea that there is only one way to salvation, that people need to mimic your strategy and lifestyle, is Christian. It's especially embarrassing when, as we have seen, the moral and strategic grounds aren't so well thought out.

I think the quasi-religiousness of veganism explains why I've so often encountered vegans who defend their position in an illogical, dishonest way—as a matter of faith. There's the matter of false propaganda. For one, the PETA milieu anti-fastfood rumour that KFC stopped referring to themselves as Kentucky Fried Chicken because the crap they serve doesn't even qualify as chicken anymore and they would risk lawsuits if they alleged otherwise (since when has advertising in honesty been so strictly enforced?). Actually, it's because, with the health craze, "fried" food got a bad name, hence the retreat to the initials KFC. These sort of meme attacks, while they may be very effective in the short term, damage the credibility of a movement in the long-term.

I've also had the argument with vegan and vegetarian friends who say that thanks to their diet they are not responsible for killing animals. Even after I pointed out the fallacy, they continue to chant this article of faith, though they know full well that their consumption of industrially farmed vegetables, their use of plastics, their dependence on petroleum-fueled transportation, their dependence on coal- or wind- or nuclear- or hydro- or even solar- (think mining for panel and battery construction) powered electricity kill a shitload more animals than meat factories. You cannot live in a capitalist society without killing animals and destroying the environment. We are all in this together, and the division between vegans who don't kill animals and the rest of us who are responsible for enslaving animals and destroying the environment is stupid and self-righteous.

The way many vegans respond to the embarrassing heresy of freeganism (only eating animal products if they are stolen or dumpstered) also illuminates religious illogic. How eating dumpstered or stolen meat supports the meat industry, if not on a metaphysical level, escapes me. Supposedly, stealing meat contributes to killing animals, because when meat gets taken off a supermarket shelf, they order more to replace it. However, stealing is a low-level attack on the industry, that does not contribute money to its proft margins. Stealing, unequivocaly, is not consuming. Furthermore, most supermarkets log data through the cash registers on exactly what products are purchased, thus they also can collect statistics on what products are most frequently shoplifted. These products might be attached with security tags, lowering profit margins, or they might be put in a less accessible spot, which lowers the frequency of purchase (shopping being a largely compulsive activity). It is not unheard of for a product that is robbed too frequently to be entirely removed from a supermarket's inventory.

The idea that stealing meat contributes to the industry is not only poorly thought out, but contradictory. If supermarkets use the money they receive to restock a pre-selected range of products (including meat), then that means that the money vegans spend buying lettuce also goes to buying more meat. Thus, the supermarket industry is integrated with the meat industry, and the only way to get food from supermarkets without sending your money to support this industry is to steal, which has the added benefits of undermining the imposed consumer role and putting you in conflict with capitalist society. Concomitantly, vegans who go shopping are not really vegans. How far do we take the analysis? Do the banks they put their money in invest in any supermarkets or any other industries integrated with the meat industry? Do any of the companies they work for or shop from? To great effect, the SHAC campaign has illustrated just how wide a company's economic involvements are.

Because of these missionary and universalizing tendencies, veganism creates a number of problems within a diverse anticapitalist movement. These problems are especially volatile when it comes to race, owing to a few coincidences: people of color are more likely to require meat for a healthy diet, to have a more ecologically friendly tradition of eating meat, as well as a food culture that is more rooted, less undermined by consumerism, and thus one with which they identify with more strongly. For all these reasons, vegans can come off as particularly insulting and racially exclusive when they insist that a vegan diet is healthier for everyone (not true, some people are healthier when they eat some meat) or when they propagate the peculiar mathematical view of food that a vegan meal, as a lowest common denominator, is the only dietary option that is inclusive to everyone. This is often justified with the argument that "people need to learn that a meal does not need to include meat" as though it were just some ignorant habit and not a fully developed food culture in its own right. A culturally inclusive compromise is not a vegan meal, but a meal with vegan as well as omnivorous options. Predictably, veganism misses out on the merits of pluralism in favor of a decidedly absolutist worldview.


Is animal liberation an oxymoron?

I don't think that animal liberationists believe they are going to end the vivisection and meat industries by rescuing imprisoned animals any more than anarchists believe we are going to abolish the state with the current level of activity we are capable of. So let me be unequivocal in stating the many strong points of animal liberation actions. These actions are brave, and more than anything today people need to be inspired. These actions are passionate, another revolutionary necessity. Even though the liberations will save a tiny number of animals from the conveyor belts of a vast death machine, each individual animal is worth saving. Such non-quantitative logic is valuable in a struggle for an anarchist world free of domination. Thirdly, the animal liberation movement has developed important tactical innovations that have spread to adjacent milieus and movements. They are also important for spreading consciousness of the viciousness of our civilization towards other living things.

My criticism of animal liberation is a minor one, and mostly meant as food for thought. Unlike veganism, animal liberation is, in my view, an important part of a full anarchist movement. As a separate movement, it faces the danger of falling into repetitive, fetishized activity carried out only for its internal moral values rather than working in conjuction with more long-term strategic approaches, but I think there is enough interchange between animal liberationists and other types of radicals to wed animal liberation to the necessity to abolish capitalism.

More problematic is animal liberation's relationship with false visions of solidarity that already predominate in many activist circles, especially more privileged circles. Technically, though at first the point seems almost petty, animal liberation is an oxymoron. Liberation, unless we mean it the way George W. Bush does, can only be accomplished by its subject. In other words, people must liberate themselves. Animals, on the other hand, cannot. Unfortunately, from here to eternity animals will never organize a social force capable of ending capitalism or even vivisection. Animals will never write letters or raise bail money for imprisoned animal liberationists. In a democratic sense, humans and animals are not equal because they cannot be co-participants in civil society with equal rights and responsibilities. But then, fuck democracy. Autonomy is a more coherent concept, and all living things deserve autonomy and control over whatever choices they are capable of making. (This does raise a moral question regarding domestication, as many animals have participated in their own domestication as an evolutionary adaptation, and well treated, especially free grazing domesticated animals will not run away, even if they have seen their broodmates slaughtered. Instead they choose to stick around with their human companions. What then do we make of their equality or autonomy?)

Animals will not liberate themselves, they must be saved. The planet must also be saved, but this does not mean these are hopelessly missionary projects, as by "save" we basically mean we must stop torturing and destroying animals and nature. Through this necessity, animal liberation promotes a false idea of solidarity that creates a very patronizing, often racist model when activists who get their feet wet with animal liberation activities attempt to work together with other human groups in struggle, if through reasons of privilege they might also be able to imagine themselves as saviors. This is not an inevitable weakness of animal liberation, just a potential consequence within revolutionary circles where animal liberation activity is much more developed and emphasized than international or cross-racial solidarity. In other words, animal liberation is obviously not responsible for the missionary impulse that is culturally ingrained in whiteness. Rather, animal liberation may be so attractive to many white radicals because it does not challenge but may promote the missionary approach to solidarity, in which a more powerful being saves an innocent but helpless being from harm.


In conclusion...

On an individual level, many vegans have engaged in vital work raising environmental consciousness, and they have experienced their diet as a means of reaching ethical consistency and self-discipline. But their diet has not been an asset in the struggle. For many of us it is important to live in a way we consider ethically consistent, and to attempt to prefigure the world we are struggling to create. However, an absolutist veganism is not necessary to either of these tasks, and instead impedes an accurate understanding of ecology and capitalism, while discouraging a united, pluralistic movement against capitalism.
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Veganism is a consumer activity | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: undrmyeffekt on Thursday, June 05 2008 @ 12:52 AM CDT
are you saying veganism a consumer activity because it is prevalent in capitalist societies more than others?
I think a lot of vegans feels that humans CAN eat meat in harmony and that they are biologically set up for it. But the PRODUCTION is the main concern for myself and vegans I know. If animal farming/hunting wasn't depriving the earth by mass production and their lives being made torturous, I might eat meat. you're right, it does taste good.
imo it is not about the act of eating it, the "right" and "wrong" is not about the idea of humans eating meat but rather the abuse and degradation of both the animals and earth.
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: LiveVeganPDX on Thursday, June 05 2008 @ 02:28 AM CDT

Peter there are many things about your article that was straight up nonsense but I am a busy activist and I
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 05 2008 @ 03:45 AM CDT
Peter is my friend and I have a tremendous respect for his work. But in this text, the important, insightful criticisms and the totally overgeneralizing unproductive criticisms are mixed together in the most frustrating way.

If I may hypothesize... it sometimes happens that a writer has a difficult interaction with a person (or group of people) and dwells on it for a long time. Not wanting all that "dwelling on" to have been wasted energy, the writer attempts to derive useful lessons from it, and present them to the public--that's the writer's job, right? But the writer has to be extremely, extremely careful when doing so not to universalize the frustrating yet incidental characteristics of the person who has generated the critique. Sure, PETA and Vegan Outreach (the organization) are disappointing in many ways, but they are not qualified to represent everyone who adheres to a vegan diet. Some of us are not trying to prescribe for others, but are very confident that a vegan diet is appropriate for ourselves in our current situation; some of us do not think we have The Answer, but see veganism as one way to bring up the issue of animal exploitation en route to a more general addressing of exploitation and capitalism. I could go on, but any reader can imagine the rest.

In picking one's battles, one must not simply try to figure out who is doing something wrong and critique them for it, but rather start from the question of what is to be gained by presenting a critique. A critique of missionary, reformist, etc. TENDENCIES in current vegan circles would be exciting and productive, and much-needed. The critique presented here, however, by muddling a bunch of different concerns together in a provocative way, can actually make productive, constructive dialogue more difficult. If you start a conversation by pushing people's buttons, you can't expect much from it in terms of positive results. Myself, I try to resist the temptation to do that except when I feel the people I'm addressing are too far gone for any positive outcome. In that case, I have nothing to lose by infuriating them. But I can't imagine that Peter really sees vegans as so far gone that dialogue is impossible and the only worthwhile path is to instigate a clean break between them and other anarchists.
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: thing on Thursday, June 05 2008 @ 04:26 PM CDT
Not all vegans are unaware of capitalism as a system to be abolished, and not all vegans are opposed to freeganism. Veganism is a step, and hardly the be-all end-all of conservation or anti-oppression movements.

Your description of birds as being unable to recognize individuals is simply incorrect. Furthermore, your decision to base what animals you eat on whether or not you can form an emotional bond with them seems a precarious premise, and not a very logical one.

It is possible to restore grasslands with herd animals without consuming those animals, such as the reintroduction of native species, such as antelope and bison native to North America.

Lastly, this may be my own misperception, but your description of other societies seems to border on exotification; you seem to paint them with broad strokes as naturally superior and harmonious, "in balance," ignoring the complex reality that exists within any society. You seem to be very concerned with racism, yet your simplistic portrayal of some societies does not seem to concern you.
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Peter Gelderloos on Friday, June 06 2008 @ 05:38 PM CDT
I agree with biofilo's critique, and I know that many vegans understand veganism as appropriate in certain situations rather than universally appropriate-- I attempted, inadequately, to express this in the original essay. I'll try to clarify my purpose and my target. I want to challenge the attempt of many vegans to monopolize ethical, ecological, and anarchist thought, and to call out tendencies that I think most vegans, even if they do not enact, are at least drawn to the borders of.

LiveVeganPDX seems to hold many of the positions I critique, so I'll respond to that comment first.

1. The most notable problem is that LiveVegan conflates enslaving animals and killing them, then lectures me at length on how enslaving animals is wrong, and very un-anarchist. On the former, LiveVegan should re-read the fourth paragraph of the essay, along with all the other parts that explicitly condemn enslaving animals.

However, enslaving is not the same as domesticating. Enslaving, among other things, is depriving a being of its agency, and many animals have cooperated in their own domestication. Some other species also domesticate animals. It is probable that the first animals to be domesticated by humans took the initiative in that evolutionary process. Many domesticated animals roam free and return to the home they share with humans, even after they have seen others of their kind slaughtered there. It strikes me as odd, but I'm not going to impose my values on their choices. It could easily be rationalized as a greatly successful evolutionary decision on their part but I have no idea what they're thinking, so...

Caging an animal is unequivocally wrong, and confinement is certainly a component of slavery. But caging and domestication do not go hand in hand. Factory farming is enslavement, and I absolutely consider it to be wrong and antithetical to anarchy. I was moving past that point to address veganism at a strategic level, but LiveVegan ignores those questions and brings it back to the ethics.

LiveVegan also brings up a comparison to human slavery. I find that inappropriate. In the fight for the abolition of human slavery, there was the possibility for solidarity, for allowing the leadership of the slaves and ex-slaves themselves. This possibility does not exist in the struggle for animal liberation, although in all honesty many white anarchists also relate to people of color as though they were farm animals in need of liberation.

It strikes me that during the movement for abolition, white people who did not respect, or even attempt to understand, the strategic perspective of the slaves they wanted to save, the white New England christians, favored paths of moral and economic abstention that seem similar to me at least to certain trends of veganism. I think those who fought alongside escaped slaves were more likely to take direct action and focus on starting and winning a war against slavery. I wonder if John Brown wore clothes made from cotton, and if it really even matters? I'm sure glad he didn't try to end slavery by wearing fair trade leather jackets.

So, where are we now on the ethical question? Enslaving animals is wrong, therefore factory farming has got to go. What about all the other nonvegan forms of food production? LiveVegan jumps frequently between enslaving and killing.

But killing is fine. There's nothing wrong with it, inherently. A belief to the contrary strikes me as spoiled knee-jerk, or deriving either from a liberal conception of rights or a Christian conception of moral laws, both of which make me want to puke. This morning I watched some ospreys that have built a nest in a platform I helped put up with my grandfather. The ospreys were threatened in these parts, and I'm glad to see all the generations of ospreys that have hatched on that platform. Around breakfast time I got to see one osprey kill a fish and eat it in a tree (actually it was still alive when she started eating it). It was beautiful. Why isn't it also beautiful when I pick a good lure and pull up a fish, kill it and eat it? It's much better than driving to the supermarket and buying some tofu-- it allows me to develop a more intimate connection with my bioregion, and reinforces my concern for the environment.

So if killing isn't wrong, then veganism is just one possible response to the horrible forms of food production that capitalism has developed, and these various responses-- which have similar ethical bases and should therefore be judged on their strategic merits. Within this framework, I can respect vegans if they can respect me rather than assuming I'm ignorant or apathetic to the environment.

2. LiveVegan says I painted all vegans with one brush. Fair enough. Sorry.

3. Freeganism, consumption, etc. To clarify, when we talk about consuming in the context of capitalism, and not figuratively (e.g. my passion for chocolate consumes me), we're talking about commodities, abstract value, and exchange. Stealing, scavenging, and the giving or receiving of gifts is not consuming. Stealing can reinforce an object's status as a commodity, or it can challenge it, depending on the circumstances, e.g. stealing an iPod so you can have one too even though you don't have enough money versus stealing food that you need to eat, or stealing a store full of iPods and distributing them for free (or smashing them).

4. Stealing human meat from a morgue to eat it? I don't think it would be fresh. But I've never understood why so many people consider cannibalism to be shocking. Lots of cultures have done it, especially in parts of the world where there were few other meat sources and their vegetable diet didn't give them the proteins they needed. I certainly want to be eaten when I die, though I've always been partial to buzzards.

5. "No one needs to eat meat to be healthy." This is simply not true. Many people have bad experiences with veganism and start eating meat or dairy again for their health. I personally feel healthier with a diet that includes large amounts of fruits and vegetables and small amounts of meat. But absolutist vegans snub subjective experiences and dismiss individuals' own evaluations of their health, which I consider disrespectful and authoritarian. "There is not one single nutrient in meat that cannot be found in a veg diet." B12 and haem iron. B12 comes from microbial sources and is found only occasionally in non-animal foods, which is why vegans need to take pills, and sometimes cause themselves severe neurological damage. Haem iron has a much better absorbtion rate than non-haem iron, and is only found in animal foods. Vegan propaganda often asserts that it's the best diet on health grounds as well. But I thought the reason for being vegan is ethical? If this is the case, what's so damaging about advising new recruits that they really do need iron supplements (unless they eat a shit ton of beans) and B12 supplements (as well as possibly iodine and omega)? This is one place where the religious tendency common in veganism shows its head-- veganism must be superior on all fronts, no weaknesses can be admitted, and false information can be spread to promote the Belief and even make it seem natural (naturally, in terms of biologically, humans are omnivores).
Now personally, I think a diet that includes pills is morally repugnant, but that's a personal feeling, and since I hate and avoid religious tendencies, I keep that mostly to myself and advise veg friends who report low energy or light-headedness to check their iron levels and take supplements if need be.

6. LiveVegan makes a very interesting point when I say veganism is often religious. "I am sure that slavemasters in 1860 felt personal and emotional connection to their plantation and way of life, but it doesn
Get over yourself, really, step outside yourself
Authored by: elainevigneault on Wednesday, September 03 2008 @ 09:51 PM CDT
1. "Many domesticated animals roam free and return to the home they share with humans, even after they have seen others of their kind slaughtered there. It strikes me as odd, but I'm not going to impose my values on their choices. It could easily be rationalized as a greatly successful evolutionary decision on their part but I have no idea what they're thinking, so.."

So what?
Many abused women return to their abusive spouses.

"But killing is fine. There's nothing wrong with it, inherently."

Really? That's news to me.
I don't understand why then you'd refrain from killing other humans.

"I can respect vegans"

Except that your "respect" amounts to making fun of us, name-calling, and attacking our beliefs by using falacious arguments:
"militant assertion of a false rationality and a highly emotional inability to receive or even understand criticism."
No thanks. I don't want that kind of "respect."

5. You're just, plain wrong. Veganism is perfectly healthy.
BTW, you don't have to take supplements either. Only 50% of vegans take supplements. Yet samples from all kinds of vegans show they're not nutritionally deficient. Supplements are a choice some vegans make, not a neccessity.

7. "I've spent some time around domesticated chickens and they really don't seem to tell one human apart from another, nor even care"
This is the most offensive thing about your entire article, this assumption that you can get into another's head. You act like your perceptions represent utter, complete reality and that there's no way you might be wrong. You take all this bias, experience, and privilege and you think you can really see clearly?
What if you're wrong? What if those chickens are the most intelligent, compassionate, and evolved species on the planet, yet you, because of your blind want for chicken meat or eggs, can't see it? Are you so unwilling to be wrong that you can't be agnostic on the matter of animal intelligence and emotion? You'd really rather kill and eat animal flesh than consider that you might be wrong? Why do you need so much proof that animals are intelligent? What is it about YOU that makes their intelligence so important?
You KNOW they have nerves and feel pain. That's all I need to know.

8. "Humans always have and always will be able to kill and eat other animals."
Humans always have and always will be able to kill and eat each other, too.
Indeed our capacity to harm is exactly the reason we ought to refrain from unecessary harm.

9. You went wrong when you said "people of color are more likely to require meat for a healthy diet, to have a more ecologically friendly tradition of eating meat, as well as a food culture that is more rooted, less undermined by consumerism, and thus one with which they identify with more strongly"
In the same way that you lumped all vegans together, you lumped all people of color together and made unfounded assumptions about both POCs and whites. There are SO many things wrong with your statement that I honestly don't even know where to start.

10. Get the fuck over yourself. Who cares what you're turned on or turned off by. It's not the vegan's job to make the most compelling and least offensive argument in order for you to decide to stop eating animals. It's pretty damn simple, you just stop eating animals. you don't have to identify as vegan, you don't have to like vegans, you don't have buy vegans shit. Just stop eating animals.
Really, you're hurting animals in order to spite vegans. That's pretty immature, immoral, and illogical.
Get over yourself, really, step outside yourself
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 19 2010 @ 06:01 PM CDT


Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 15 2008 @ 03:56 PM CDT
first off, i am freegan and agree with most points made to that end. there are a few things i do differ on though:

"3. Freeganism, consumption, etc. To clarify, when we talk about consuming in the context of capitalism, and not figuratively (e.g. my passion for chocolate consumes me), we're talking about commodities, abstract value, and exchange. Stealing, scavenging, and the giving or receiving of gifts is not consuming. Stealing can reinforce an object's status as a commodity, or it can challenge it, depending on the circumstances, e.g. stealing an iPod so you can have one too even though you don't have enough money versus stealing food that you need to eat, or stealing a store full of iPods and distributing them for free (or smashing them)."

Stealing i don't think is okay, because that empty spot on the shelf has to be replaced. that pack of ham you took means a pig will be killed (and suffer first, which is the point, not the killing part) in order to replace it on the shelf. therefore it is contributing to animal's being killed/raised in factory farms.
Gift-giving/recieving: this can be more grey, but generally i don't eat anything from someone else that is not vegan, because that person will then go out and buy some more non-vegan food to eat for themselves, whereas if i don't eat the food, it will take them longer to eat it and therefore be longer before they go buy some more McDonalds or whatever. it is similar to the anti-stealing argument but the person's own fridge substitutes for the store's meat cooler.
i generally just stick to eating non-vegan foods out of the dumpster. although, if it's convenient, i will even give as much of that food away to non-vegans that i know, so that they don't go out and buy meat or whatever, and i will eat vegan foods instead. but usually i dumpster so much food that there is enough for everyone.
i think that if an animal is allowed to live a wild, free life, and you kill it for your own subsistence, that is totally fine. i would eat meat (that's not out of a dumpster) if i killed it myself. i feel i should have to look into that animal's eyes and see the pain of death if i want to benefit from its meat. and i think that it's only okay if you live in a place where you can't dumpster enough to live off of. so i haven't actually ever killed an animal for food, but i see nothing wrong with the folks i stayed with in rural montana who hunt deer and eat it. it is not feasible for them to go into town to dumpster all the time since it is hours away, although they still often do. but they supplement the dumpstered goods with hunted meat. which is okay by me.

i'd agree that i don't feel very healthy if i have a vegan diet for a long stretch. i also don't live in some hippy part of the country where natural foods stores are easily accessible, and i have little money to be one of those yuppie-vegans who can buy all the fancy shit they need to not be stuck eating crackers and peanut butter all the fucking time. i do see the problems with using health arguments as a reason for being vegan. i think they are pretty disingenuous. on the other hand, i feel like people who become vegan will hopefully be able to figure that fact out eventually, and being vegan can be a first step to becoming more open to new ideas, so it is still a good step towards asking questions of more fundamental truths about our society, like capitalism and the state, for example.

"7. There was some hubbub about me saying birds can't recognize me individually. I've spent some time around domesticated chickens and they really don't seem to tell one human apart from another, nor even care. They also can't count and when one of their chicks goes missing they don't notice. I'm not arguing this makes them inferior, I don't believe in inferior or superior species. All I'm saying is that this allows me, on an entirely individual level, to be able to kill them for food and not feel awful, like if I killed a pet dog or another friend. I think that if someone would feel awful about killing any animal or taking an animals eggs or milk, then they should be vegan. I respect people to make that call for themselves."

i had chickens who recognized me. my roommates would work in the gardens, but when i would come out they would all squawk and run towards the door, because they knew i was the person who let them out of the coop to wander around the backyard for hours, which they enjoyed. they recognized me. and non-chicken birds, such as crows or pet cockatoo type birds have been shown to display remarkable intelligence. eve nto the point of some pet birds who were shown to understand grammatical rules in speaking to their owners. don't discount the old "bird-brains" out there.

in fact, let's not assume too much about what an animal's world is like. here is my favorite quote that encapsulates this idea best, i think:
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
- from Henry Beston

oh, and i ate the eggs from my chickens, because to not do so would imply that i didn't agree with the way they were being treated, therefore i'd be boycotting my own behavior! i just made sure that they were treated as well as any family pet, friend, or relative of mine. they didn't scream in pain when i took the eggs from their nests. in fact, they didn't care at all. so i don't see anything wrong with that.... to say there is, seems to be a moralistic argument, which doesn't interest me. what matters is that animals aren't treated like shit.

to vernasi:
yes, how you say to eat sounds great, and i think every dumpster diver who's ever dug through a dumpster only to come away empty handed realizes your point, that dumpster-diving is dependent upon corporate/capitalist waste. but while it's there, why not use it? it is faster and easier than your suggestions for getting food, and while i can't wait until we live in a society where gathering food is one of the main concerns of daily life (as is the case in many non-industrialized tribal societies), right now my main concerns lie in fighting the fucked up oppression in our world, and i don't feel like i have the luxury or desire to spend all day getting food when so much fucked up stuff is going on in the world. but who knows, maybe you live in an anarchist society somewhere where there is no longer institutions of domination and exploitation running rampant in your life, and you can spend all day gathering and hunting.

And as to consumer activities and mentalities, there is a whole psychology that could be gone into about how we now view our world as something we are consumers of, and the way to change things is to boycott them. but what that view does is blinds us to the institutional forces that are creating the humans and societies around us that are so fucked up, and until those institutions are dismantled, our boycott can only affect the present, not the future, because every day more people are being born and raised by those same institutions that perpetuate the problems in our societies.
for example, global warming: the consumer-based worldview deals with it like this: if i am worried about global warming, i should try to ride a bike more and conserve energy, get solar panels, etc. etc.. But what is not realized is that as long as their are institutions pushing for our society to be set up as one run on fossil fuels, there boycott can only effect the present, while the future continues to go in the same direction. if you can change the institutions creating our society and its people, only then will you see that change expand continually as time passes.
veganism is like abstaining from doing the killing yourself, but you are still letting it happen, because you don't try and change the institutions that built and sustain the animal-exploitation industries, because challenging institutions is outside of the framework of how one sees oneself as interacting with the world as a consumer.

Letting Die is not as bad as Killing, but it is also not as good as Stopping From Dying (or Saving). veganism only sees the first two options, because in a consumer society, all we can understand is being able to make a choice about the options we are given. we don't understand that to really make change, you have to try and force the people giving you the choices to give you new, different, better choices, or, in the case of what anarchists desire, the ability to define our own options for ourselves. does that make sense to everyone?
Blood = Blood
Authored by: Carcass on Saturday, June 07 2008 @ 03:05 PM CDT
I want to give a much more in depth reply to this article, but I'm at a public library and my time is limited. If you've pre-empted my response somewhere that I missed while trying to speed read, then I apologize.

I want to say three things:

First, a lot of us don't consider veganism an end unto itself for the reason you laid out: it's an economic choice. While I think you make some oversimplifications about the efficacy of targeted boycotts you're right in that they're rarely solutions. That said, I think any vegan anarchist understands this. Most of us take veganism as a starting point to more radical positions about the place of animals (both human and non) in human society.

Second, you're playing a rhetorical game when you talk about a form of killing that is somehow divorced from the baggage that surrounds the slaughter of nonhuman animals in (post-)industrial capitalism. There's a lot of nostalgia for an age that never existed surrounded the relationships that humans allegedly used to have with nonhuman animals. The fact is, domestication in every period or locale of human history has involved forced impregnation, castration, hobbling, confinement and a litany of other abysmal practices. I'm skeptical of anyone who says zie has tapped into some mystical pre-industrial connection to the nonhuman world that makes these kinds of actions acceptable. Even if this state did exist, humans are lying to themselves when they imagine that they can somehow separate themselves from the histories of domestication-oppression or the out and out genocide of the nonhuman world. The latter arrangement has put the nonhuman world in a position where it can no longer bear the weight of even the older and "softer" (i.e. not driving toward total global trophic cascade) forms of human on non-human oppression.

Finally, I agree that killing can be separable from the kinds of oppression that anarchists purports to eschew, but only in circumstances of self/community-defense. If you accept that killing of non-offending parties for personal gain can fit within the anarchist ethic, then there is no reason to confine such actions to the nonhuman sphere. I'm sure someone could argue that there are definitionally correct visions of "anarchism" that support this kind of starkly amoral belief that the world external to your collective is fair game when you are wanting but I don't think you can support the claim that any appeal to human-human or human-nonhuman kinship is just vestigial Christian moralizing. Honestly, if that's anarchism, then you can keep it. I'm happy with my beans and rice.
Blood = Blood
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 19 2010 @ 05:59 PM CDT


Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: veranasi on Sunday, June 08 2008 @ 02:13 PM CDT
"Concomitantly, vegans who go shopping are not really vegans. How far do we take the analysis? Do the banks they put their money in invest in any supermarkets or any other industries integrated with the meat industry? Do any of the companies they work for or shop from? To great effect, the SHAC campaign has illustrated just how wide a company's economic involvements are."

What strikes me about this is that being vegan does not demand being friendly to animals. It's a lifestyle that excludes animal products. Someone could hate animals and not care about the torture or enslavement of animals and be vegan. The common flaw in mainstream veganism is the fallacy that veganism is animal friendly.

It can be, if you were to eat local, with the seasons, etc. It's important to not that this require the elimination of the dependency of faux meats which is almost pornography of the original meats. You also have to take into account transport, processing and packaging of vegan good. The idea that the best way circumvent this problem is to dumpster doesn't solve the problem. It takes a massive movement of individual self sufficiency and less reliance on corporate bottom feeding. The problem with dumpstering in it's relationship to the oppression of animals is that it still shows the demand of packaged, processed goods and takes away from the localized industry, foraging and it's possible cultural influence.

If you are vegan to set an example, it would make more sense to participate in actual animal friendly culture. I don't think I have to go into depth the overwhelming harm on animals and their ecosystems, agriculture and it's processes distributes.

There are definite logical flaws in mainstream veganism in it's demeanor as an animal friendly lifestyle. The serious problem with the more ethical approach of eating locally and with the seasons would require giving up veganism. If you choose the organic lifestyle, it's important to note the fertilizer and where it comes from, not just the beef and dairy industry, but often the fishing industry. If you go with corporate fertilizer, it's important to recognize the impact on waterways. It's also important to notice the ecosystems and animal slaughter that comes from combines etc on corporate farms. We have to remember that ecosystems are everyones home, including more animals than possibly on meat farms. Definitely more than localized organic free range meat farms, and unquestionably the amount of nature oriented hunting or even road kill retrieval.

So moving forward, it's easy to see how veganism can get a bad rap, esp. if people are making demands about something they don't understand.
Veganism is Anti-Oppression: Not a Consumer Activity
Authored by: animalfreedom on Wednesday, July 09 2008 @ 07:25 PM CDT
The Vegan Ideal posted an excellent reply to this article: Veganism is Anti-Oppression: Not a Consumer Activity

the url: theveganideal.blogspot.com/2008/06/veganism-is-anti-oppression-not.html (an active link is not allowed by the spam filter)
Veganism is not a boycott
Authored by: elainevigneault on Wednesday, September 03 2008 @ 09:10 PM CDT
'Animals can't liberate themselves.'
No shit, Sherlock. No one caged, human or nonhuman, can liberate themselves.

First, let's start with the actual definition of vegan (not some imaginary straw-man definition of vegan that assumes veganism is merely a dietary preference and not a philosophy):

"vegan: person who seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose."
veganism is based on the moral principal that needless use of animals and the resulting harm to animals should be avoided whenever possible.

This is NOT to say that all animal use in all situations can or should be avoided by everyone in every situation. It's not a purely black-and-white thing. It's about seeking to avoid the use of animals, emphasis on seeking.
Veganism is about living a life that doesn't subjugate animals to humans. Because we live in the real world and the real world is VERY fucked up, there are a lot of gray areas: like what to do about animals who have a learned helplessness (like companion animals). A vegan approaches those gray areas with the basic principle to avoid harm and subjugation whenever possible.

As a privileged American, I can easily avoid direct animal use in food, clothing, and most other purposes. People who aren't as privileged may not be able to avoid animal use so easily.

The idea is that they should *try* to avoid animal use as much as possible. For example, people shouldn't use and abuse on animals for science, curiousity, pleasure or any other non-essential human desire. Another example, one shouldn't hunt and kill animals unless they absolutely have to in order to survive. If there are plant food alternatives, they should avoid hunting.

Unless you think science and hunting are also consumerist activities then I think we're done here.
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Why on Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 12:23 PM CDT
Breathing is a fucking consumer activity, the question is whether or not consumer activities are part of the natural ecosystem or are outside and independent of that ecosystem, causing damage.

Veganism inherently cannot support humans with our current level of technology, and the vast majority of vegans are contributing to the destruction of the ecosystem. Thus veganism is a mindless consumer activity, much like all consumer activities within authoritarianism / capitalism.

The question about domestication is pretty nonplussed to me, simply because nature affords a terribly horrible environment for most animals, sickness, death, murder, those are natural, common cycles in nature. To be killed by being eaten alive by a pack of wolves, or freezing or starving or dehydrating to death, is a terribly awful way to go. An affront to natural cycles is not necessarily "unanarchist" in any logical way.

Those people who are pretending that domestication (in general) is worse than nature have not spent time in nature to any significant extent. Now factory farming, on the other hand, is a whole other story, and I am *not* in any way defending that deplorable act.
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: electrosyzygy on Wednesday, October 15 2008 @ 06:06 AM CDT
@ Peter: right on, thanks for your rational approach. "Veganism IS a consumer choice within present day capitalist society".
The very fact one can CHOOSE to be a vegan today, year-round, of course with the help of supplements and a very variegated diet (especially in northern climes such as mine), is a product of the very same "post-industrial capitalism" that is responsible for animal farming and other such degrading practices. Specifically, the vegan lifestyle is only possible with an abundant supply of cheap fossil fuels which make the global trade and production of products/food possible. It also is made possible and so easily accessible in the developed world by the emergence of industrial agriculture and monocultures in the past 50 years. It is no coincidence that veganism is prevalent in the West (read highly evolved capitalist economies). It is virtually impossible to be vegan under any other circumstances, especially if one eats local. Peak Oil will eventually fuck with the viability of veganism: the ability to import anything will become increasingly difficult, forcing people to consume what is in their bioregion and in season. I am certain veganism is a lifestyle that will have faded from memory in 50 years time; it's adherents having seen the light and converted or persisted in folly out of 'respect' for animals and starved.

I also believe veganism is the product of an alienated psyche, a skewed vision of nature and fucked up anthropology. There is no objective moral order which dictates killing an animal is wrong, especially if it is for survival and basic needs. Actually, even a superficial observation of Nature in all its glory should convince us otherwise. Try convincing my Native ancestors of the immorality and nutritional benefits of the vegan lifestyle in the dead of winter when it's -30 C. Ridiculous. They lived the most sustainable lifestyle there ever was; one that worked for hundreds of thousands years and had they been vegan, they would have died swiftly. As far as agriculture and domestication are concerned, you rightly point out they cannot be equated with slavery, and evolutionary biology suggests domestication is symbiotic--we are as domesticated as the animals we have domesticated having dispensed of our wild self and developed a codependency. Needless to say, a 'wild' human is an animal who hunts and kills to live; an animal unfettered by arbitrary metaphysical musings and anthropomorphic ideas and romantic nonsense about animals; an animal for which veganism is irrelevant and impossible.

Veganism is religious and emotional in nature, having no scientific or ethical basis.

Criticism: your assertion that a "lingering Christian morality" has something to do with conflation of concern for animals and veganism is absurd. Both the Old & New Testaments are replete with references to carnivorous activity and fishing and it never condemns such activities--to the contrary, animal sacrifice was central to Jewish cultic activity and concerning the new testament, there are no prohibitions on carnivorous behavior. The Bible reflects its context(s) of composition: an agrarian and pastoral society where domestication and meat consumption were essential to life. I would like to know where you got such a notion?
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 19 2010 @ 05:52 PM CDT

But you defend small farming and domestication? Not defending "factory farming" is just another consumer bandwagon that you're talking about- yet you jump right on. The smallest of farms do some of the most awful things to animals. Repeated raping of dairy cows so that their babies can be stolen at birth to be tied to the floor for veal and so on. And again, your hierarchical rule over teh desires and needs of animals and how they fit into your own little view of what is good and bad rules your views on domestication. Ever see what penguins have to do each year? Crawling across antarctica in the bitter cold and such? I wouldn't want to do that- but it doesn't mean I think they all belong trapped in zoos because it would be "less" difficult.

There are so many problems in your logic here and this article was obviously spouted before being thought out. You call others on hypocrisy without recognizing the massive amount of your own.

"Green" and "Organic"
Authored by: Jizzbug on Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 02:53 PM CDT

"Green" and "Organic" are the real consumerist icons of our day. These words have integrated themselves into almost every P.R. campaign these days.

"Green" and "Organic" are potent examples of feel-good consumerism.

Consumerism, even if it is "green" or "organic", is always in opposition to conservation.

However, I think there probably is something to the cessation of sacrificing animals and consuming their flesh... But I myself am far from participating in such cessation. (I like to make rump roast dinners, for example.)

Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: archanism on Wednesday, August 26 2009 @ 06:23 PM CDT
This article suffers from over-generalization and label bias. It's been a little over a month since I decided to go vegan. Part of my motivation is health (the vegetarian inclination) and part of it is a compassion for life that extends to compensating for the cruelty forced upon those living creatures that are bred in a for-profit context.

I have no problem with the argument about animals being beneficial to the environment. That reference doesn't apply to the cattle farmers or pig butchers or chicken-beak clippers, etc.

My abstinence from meat and dairy are similarly driven by the motives expressed, above. That this decision has a market impact is a side-effect rather than an explicit intention, and I think to over-generalize about "vegans" as you have does a disservice to the research and/or thought put into this piece.
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 19 2010 @ 05:44 PM CDT

Yet another person who seems to think that oppression is rooted in capitalism alone and that consumption has nothing to do with the reality of an oppression. Women, other animals, etc were oppressed long before any state existed, let alone capitalism. I think it's pretty simple that if you care about womyns lib that you don't buy parts of their bodies. You don't outsource pregnancies and shit. If you care about the lib of other animals, you don't abuse, kill, and consume them. Because guess what, when capitalism falls, other animals are still going to be abused if we don't change the way we think about and consider them. This article is rife with speciesism.

As for animals not "organizing"- some actually do. Many fight back against their oppressors. The fact that it is not done in the exact way humans do it does not make it irrelevant. When you are tied to the floor, a lack of struggle does not mean you wish to be there.

A lot of manarchist stuff in this article. The person it comes from is really problematic for many reasons, too. Talks a good talk, though. Don't be fooled.

Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 19 2010 @ 06:15 PM CDT

Best response to this: http://veganideal.org/content/veganism-anti-oppression-not-consumer-activity

Edited on Tuesday, October 19 2010 @ 06:15 PM CDT by
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: sweet tea on Thursday, October 21 2010 @ 06:37 AM CDT

Ive come to enjoy gelderloos writings on a number of things, and tend to find that they offer at least as much as light as heat, which is more than i can say for most heads publishing shit these days.

And i will say that i find a lot of his points here refreshing, particularly the perspectives on domestication and death. Vegan attitudes toward predation and death always have puzzled me, and unfortunately the comments by some (im assuming) vegans on this message board are no different. Im reminded of one discussion on a vegan website where one participant proposed erecting a giant fence through the Sahara to divide the predators from the prey. (!!) The complete alienation from actual nature and its life and death processes, to the point where predator/prey relationships appear foreign and unethical, or ekual to "slavery," on the part of a "philosophy" that pretends to be environmentalist, i find totally bizarre. I wonder if perhaps some of what is going on is a rural/urban divide; at least my own experiences of who tends to dabble in this weird diet politic seem to reflect that. Partly that may be my own experience as the product of rural farmers from Alabama.

All that besides, and I mean no disrespect to gelderloos' attempts to write on this topic that still lingers on in anarchist circles, but Im continually depressed that people are talking diet politics at all on an anarchist website. It seems appropriate for a green consumer e-forum or a recipes website, but here? Do people really care what I fucking eat? Theres no meal out there that doesnt involve industrial processes that exploit humans, the land, and animals, whether its a soy burger (shipped from across the continent, that leaves me hungry a half hour later) or a hamburger at mcdonalds. If eating a certain way eases your conscience, i suggest you deepen your understanding of how industrialization and agricutlure function.  

And really, did someone earlier compare domestication (in general) to a woman in abusive relationship who returns to her abuser? Are you saying by being domesticated my cat is the same as an assaulted wife? Can people cut the holocaust, slavery, and domestic abuse analogies already?

Perhaps we could leave diet politics to liberals and people who advocate buying hybrid cars and fancy light bulbs. Eat what your body tells you you need, and act to free the land and people as best you can. And for fucks sake, if you are gonna obsess about your consumption habits, and someone offers you the choice between catching a catfish and driving your hybrid to the whole foods to buy some overpriced soy that clogs your digestion and leaves you hungry an hour later, pick up the damn fishing pole and learn to feed yourself.

Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Carcass on Thursday, October 21 2010 @ 06:52 AM CDT


"Im reminded of one discussion on a vegan website where one participant proposed erecting a giant fence through the Sahara to divide the predators from the prey."


This is an anecdotal smear from Lierre Keith's ad hominem tirade against veganism, The Vegetarian Myth.  So either you're making shit up or you're Lierre Keith and you're making shit up.

(Anarchism + Veganism) ≠ living off boca burgers.  QED.  Burn your whole foods and prius strawmen elsewhere.

Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: sweet tea on Thursday, October 21 2010 @ 10:50 PM CDT

For the record, ive actually heard vegans make disparaging comments about predators, and more generally predator prey relationships, as "oppressive." I think if you break down vegan ideology, it makes sense why they would. (I actually stayed with several vegans in Hungary once, who had rescued bunnies at their house, but refused to have cats because "they arent vegetarian.")

Obviously im not saying all vegans think like this; nor do all vegans advocate going to whole foods and buying fancy lightbulbs as their chief political activity. But the point is that choosing what to eat, as offered by industrial capitalism, is a "political" activity that falls under the category of consumer activism. As such, whether the person eating the meat alternative whatever is an anarchist, a democrat, or a fascist, their activity and its political logic, and the analysis of how to change capitalism which it implies, has more in common with buying weirdly shaped light bulbs and hybrid cars than it does with anarchist rebellion, resistance, etc. Anarchists, without any exception i know of other than the ever-decreasing crowd that advocates diet politics, do not advocate consumer activism as a viable approach to challenging capitalism, for pretty obvious reasons.

On the other hand, i do recognize that some peoples choice to be vegan is not rooted in a political action at all, but rather in a vaguely religious moral platform, that implies eating a dead animal is wrong, period, end of story, regardless of cultural economic social context, whatever (but somehow eating dead plants is ok? That their life is less valuable? That they dont suffer or feel pain?) Aside from explaining why this ideology is generally a first world moral position, this kind of moral stance helps explain the vegan alienation from predator prey relationships, as predators are in fact guilty of "killing" under this ethos, not to mention the tendency for folks in that world to be far more involved in domestic animal causes rather than wildlife or habitat defense (Most of the long time eco defense activists i know eat meat, actually).

Anyway, this is pretty boring compared to the other badass amazing rebellion going on that gets reported on on this site. And besides, ultimately im gonna eat what makes me feel healthy, which is NOT vegan meals. I hope others do the same.

Edited on Thursday, October 21 2010 @ 10:51 PM CDT by sweet tea
Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Quorina on Sunday, February 06 2011 @ 10:10 PM CST

 This whole article is just a bunch of rubbish and personal opinion without much basis in objectivity. 

The author makes gross generalizations about vegans and the vegan lifestyle. He seems to think that PETA and other vegan organizations are somehow representative of every single vegan. He frequently started sentences with, "vegans" this, and "vegans" that. He even had the audacity to claim that veganism is some sort of religion. Does he even know what a religion is? Fact is, vegans become vegans for a variety of reasons; some for animal welfare, some for the environment, others for health reasons, or hell, if you're like me, you became a vegan for all of the forementioned reasons. I, personally, do not have a problem with people eating meat or consuming animal products, I could give a flying fuck what you personally do. But I refuse to partake in it, and I fail to see the problem with that. Do not generalize about me and other vegans, please.

As for veganism being a "consumer activity", so freaking what? Face it, we live in a capitalist society, we have to deal with the cards we are dealt.  No one is going to be overthrowing the government and capitalism overnight anytime soon; we do not live in an anarcho-communist society just yet. If I tried to sell you a product that would turn your home blue and make it smell of dog shit and you refused to buy it, that's also a so-called "consumer activity". People can and should be free to choose what to consume within our currently faulty system. Scratch that, at any time at all. I'm not sure if you were trying to imply that we are propagating capitalism by refusing to eat meat, but in case you were, remember what I told you about the product that would make your home smell of dogshit, mmmmk?

Veganism is a consumer activity
Authored by: Anarcomisantropo on Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 10:42 AM CDT

"It is ultimately an attempt to change capitalism and human civilization through the exercise of one's privileges as a consumer."

No, it is not. I like you, Peter, but this is a poor article.

I am vegan not to "change capitalism", but just to avoid being related to an industry of mass torture. I don't buy cell phones is because I don't want to be linked to Coltan industry. I am not stopping deaths in Congo by not buying cell phones, I am just keeping my hands clean about it.

Following your advice, we can buy whatever we feel like, because no shopping is going to change the world. In fact I'll buy a polar bear rug for my house; polar bears are going to be killed anyway, so--