this is an ongoing series short rants on the commonalities of oppressions. this one is all about some parallels between capitalism (political and economic systems of exploitation of workers, based around property and profit for the few at the expense of the many) and speciesism (political and economic systems of exploitation of non-humans, defining animals as property for the profit of the few at the expense of the many). one such parallel centers around the practice of excusing and/or shaming peoples as “consumers”. specifically, it is about a parallel between them, a commonality in how these two interact.
it’s called “consumer privilege”.
so, a lot of people, mostly vegans, toss around this argument that “we” could solve world hunger if everyone adopted a “plant-based diet”. some of these folks mean well, no doubt. they might be thinking they can beat capitalism at its own game by centering capital around “ethics”. obviously, the animal industrial complex is a staggeringly inefficient, self-destructive and violent institution wasting so many precious resources (land, water, food crops, lives & energy). that fact is pretty well established. as too is the well-documented realities of normalized, routine violence against non-humans that comes along with it. all of that is fucking rotten.
but veganism is not going to “fix” capitalism, or “fix” consumerism. capitalism is designed around exploitation of something (labour, animals or the Earth), and consumerism is the means by which we acquire and make use of this exploitation. sadly, “going vegan” doesn’t change any of that.
for more on capitalism, veganism and the animal industrial complex, read this.
veganism is not going to end white supremacist colonialism. veganism is not going to end global capitalist imperialism. veganism is not going to end the systems responsible for so much of the reasons why we see white governments & consumer-societies wiping out cultures, peoples, ecosystems and species to sustain the privileges many of us assume to be “rights”. for example, many assume it to be a “right” to have easy, affordable access to foods that are not sprayed with chemicals, or consuming foods/products that did not bring violence to someone’s life & family before it arrived in its plastic wrapping for us to enjoy and throw away.
of course no one should be in positions where they need to be consuming things that are harmful to themselves, to animals or to the planet. but it is still a fucking privilege to be in a position where you can do so easily. whether it’s foodies talking about eating “local” (as in, animals were abused and exploited nearby, phew), or vegans eating “certified-vegan” foods (as in, not foods that indirectly kills animals or in/directly exploit or kill the humans involved in the goods production). and so when people flaunt their privileges as consumers to buy more ethical products to live their lives, and shame others for not meeting their “cruelty-free” standards, that’s fucked up.
and that is where speciesism joins up with capitalism ideology when we begin to assume or overlook our prejudices that the non-human animals in your own country hold higher priority than say the human and non-human animals in those “other countries”. rather, mainstream veganism comes out of this same culture of white colonialist mentality, and we do a GIANT disservice to each other, to animals, and to the struggle for liberation when we conveniently overlook this fact (similar to the frustration most vegans have likely experienced when people conveniently overlook that “dairy” milk is never acquired consensually from a mother cow, which is just plain fucked).
if you’re vegan and claiming or suggesting in some way that we’re going to live in a utopia once everyone adopts the same diet as you, i’m encouraging you right now to think a lot harder about whether this planet can sustain herself if every human lived & consumed at the same rate as you do – and if you think she could sustain herself supporting some 7 billion of you, then ask yourself how many people & communities are being oppressed & exploited – right now – to make your footprint as small and moral conscience as clean as you think it is. just the same, consider the fact that the billions of “minorities” might not have any desire to conform to the mainstream white able-bodied hetero-cis-normative veganism that PeTA & those lobby groups wants everyone to be.
so if you can be vegan, then good for you. congrats. me too. but please don’t ego-trip yourself up into being so naïve into thinking a vegan world won’t be just as racist and colonialist and patriarchal (and …) to retain this world order where cash-poor communities (primarily children & womyn of colour) are constantly repressed and forgotten. don’t forget that you have incredible privileges within this capitalism system to be consuming in ways that keeps your conscience at ease and body healthy.
you can’t fucking buy a revolution.
there is never going to be a discount liberation.