It’s worth noting that there is some disagreement about whether intersectionality is an appropriate theory (rooted in Black feminism) to draw on when it comes to veganism. Some vegans of colour promote it, but others don’t. In the absence of a better term or description, I’m using “pro-intersectional” veganism here.
Earlier this year, I saw a tweet that resonated with me deeply as a person who lives with a relatively abundant amount of privilege:
You don’t need to be a voice for the voiceless. Just pass the mic.
— Su’ad Abdul Khabeer (@DrSuad) February 12, 2017
I’d never seen such a powerful, pithy descriptor of being a good ally, and, in this spirit, I try to highlight pro-intersectional vegan voices as much as I can.
Intersectionality is vital to the vegan and animal rights movement today. It is a concept that acknowledges that human beings live complex lives, shaped by social factors like ethnicity, gender, class, disability, etc., and that frameworks of power exist in our societies today, affording many varying kinds of privilege or oppression (depending on the social factors influencing our lives).
With Black women as the starting point, it becomes more apparent how dominant conceptions of discrimination condition us to think about subordination as disadvantage occurring along a single categorical axis…. [A] focus on the most privileged group members [e.g. white women in feminism] marginalises those who are multiply burdened and obscures claims that cannot be understood as resulting from discrete sources of discrimination.” (Kimberle Crenshaw, 1989)
The mainstream vegan movement is dominated by whiteness, rife with sexism, and falls back lazily and horribly on racism and other bigotries far too often. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we can do better. Research these amazing people and organisations, donate your shares or, better yet, your money.
Diversify your social media feeds and your consumption practices. Listen to voices different from your own. Don’t focus on the most privileged group members. Don’t marginalise. Don’t try to speak for others. Pass the mic.
(N.B. I have borrowed various biographies and other snippets of information from relevant websites here. Please shout me if you would like me to remove any of this content.)
You might also want to check out my Top 10 Practical Tips For Easy, Sustainable and Inclusive Veganism.
1. Food Empowerment Project
The Food Empowerment Project seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognising the power of one’s food choices. It encourages choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, the unavailability of healthy foods in communities of colour and low-income areas, and the importance of not purchasing chocolate that comes from the worst forms of child labour.
Founder lauren T. Ornelas is an animal rights advocate of more than 20 years, and executive director of the Food Empowerment Project and VeganMexicanFood.com
Watch lauren’s TED talk on the power of our food choices.
2. Black Vegans Rock
Black Vegans Rock was founded by Aph Ko after she wrote the first list that spotlighted 100 Black Vegans for Striving with Systems back in June 2015. She decided to research and compile a list of influential Black vegans who were doing incredible work to dismantle the stereotype that veganism was a “white person’s” thing.
After releasing the list, she received emails from Black vegans all over the world who wanted to be featured on the list as well. Some people told her that they had a vegan organisation and they wanted to get it in front of other Black vegans. Since Aph didn’t want to add on to the 100 Black Vegans list, she decided to create a platform devoted to spotlighting incredible Black vegans every day.
3. Pax Ahimsa Gethen
Pax is a queer agender trans male, black vegan atheist, photographer, and blogger.
Pax blogs about gender and social justice issues, with a particular focus on cissexism (oppression of transgender and non-binary people) and speciesism (oppression of non-human animals). Their approach to animal rights activism is based on the standpoint that animals are people, not property, and that veganism is a social justice issue, not a diet.
Watch Pax’s talk on welcoming gender diversity in activist spaces.
4. Vine Sanctuary
LGBTQ-run VINE Sanctuary offers refuge to animals who have escaped or been rescued from the meat, dairy and egg industries or other injurious circumstances, such as cockfighting and zoos. Sanctuary residents include chickens, cows, ducks, doves, geese, pigeons, sheep, emus and even a few parakeets.
In addition to sheltering and advocating for animals, they conduct research and education aimed at creating systemic changes in agriculture, trade, and consumption as well as human attitudes about animals and the environment.
Vine Sanctuary works within an ecofeminist understanding of the interconnection of all life and the intersection of all forms of oppression. Thus they welcome and work to facilitate alliances among animal, environmental, and social justice activists.
Watch co-founder pattrice jones (an ecofeminist writer, educator, and activist) talk at the 2016 Intersectional Justice Conference: What Can Mad Cows & Queer Ducks Teach Us About Intersectionality?
5. Christopher Sebastian McJetters
Christopher Sebastian McJetters is a vegan and social justice advocate who focuses on examining the complex relationships between animal violence, anti-black racism, queer liberation and classism. He contributes to Striving with Systems, a blog that promotes radical vegan perspectives on total liberation.
Watch Christopher Sebastian’s talk from VegFest UK 2016: Intersections of Justice: Building an Inclusive Animal Rights Movement.
6. Dr Breeze Harper aka Sistah Vegan
Dr. A. Breeze Harper has a PhD in Critical Food Geographies. She is the creator of The Sistah Vegan Project and the editor of the ground-breaking anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society.
Her work focuses on how systems of oppression -namely racism and normative whiteness- operate within the USA. She uses food and ethical consumptions cultures, within North America, to explore these systems. Her favourite tools of analysis are critical whiteness studies, decolonial world systems theory, Black feminisms, critical race feminism, critical animal studies, and critical food studies.
Watch Dr. Harper’s talk at the 2016 Intersectional Justice Conference: Uprooting White Fragility.
7. Rachele Cateyes aka Rad Fat Vegan
Rachele Cateyes is a fat positive and pro-intersectional feminist, artist, vegan and queer fat femme from Portland, Oregon. Her illustrations of superfat babes in crop tops and fat positive messages encourages radical body acceptance and offers representations of bodies like her own.
8. Reg Flowers
Reg Flowers began his career as a theatre artist, on and off- Broadway, with several guest starring television appearances. As a community activist and organiser, Reg supports several community development projects including the New York City Worker Cooperative Development Initiative and coalition building in Detroit, MI.
Reg pioneers the AltSpace project, a culture project in just and sustainable living. The project promotes re-imagining how resources can be shared to achieve fair access to power and the ways power is produced and reproduced. The project centres around three areas:
- how we can take ownership of our food systems
- how we interact with the environment
- how we develop as a community
Reg has established a successful YouTube channel in a landscape dominated by controversial and sometimes harmful vegan voices.
9. Project Intersect
Project Intersect encourages pro-intersectional analyses of oppression that are sorely needed both in activist circles and in general public discourse. The intent is to establish new spaces for anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-speciesist work and scholarship by engaging a multitude of voices in this renewed effort to make anti-oppression anarcha-feminist and/or ethical vegan critique accessible for all (from the ground up!).
Read this interview with founder Jacqueline Morr on the Striving with Systems blog.
10. Carol J Adams
Carol J. Adams is a feminist-vegan advocate, activist, and independent scholar and the author of numerous books including her pathbreaking The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, now in a Bloomsbury Revelations edition celebrating its 25th anniversary. It has been translated into German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Portuguese and French.
Watch this recent interview with Carol at the opening of the Sexual Politics of Meat art exhibition at the Animal Museum.