Expanding Outwards: Connecting Veganism To Other Social Justice Movements; A Guest Post by Jamie J. Hagen

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Expanding Outwards: Connecting Veganism To Other Social Justice Movements

A Guest Post by: Jamie J. Hagen, upcoming 2013 Vida Vegan Con Speaker. Look out for Jamie’s three classes on the agenda: Comments are Your Friend – Veganism, Feminism & Social Justice – and – Finding Balance: Blogging and Personal Life

Photo by Jasmin Singer
Photo credit: Jasmin Singer

The first time I heard Carol J. Adams speak was at the Liberation Now! Conference in San Francisco in 2004. Her provocative slideshow captivated the audience in a huge auditorium. I was vegan then, but I’d yet to grow into any other social justice identities. All the same, important seeds of knowledge were planted.

Almost a decade later and as an active feminist, I heard Adams speak again this year. This time she spoke to an overflowing Bluestockings bookstore in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The event was to celebrate the release of Defiant Daughters, an anthology including essays by 21 authors reflecting on the Sexual Politics of Meat more than twenty years after the initial publication of her groundbreaking book.

A common thread of the essays is the eye opening experience many women had when making the connections between animal rights and feminism. Their stories are diverse, emotional, intelligent and engaging. But as the editors noted during the NYC reading, this anthology is only the beginning of the conversation about making connections between social justice movements.

The audience raised some questions after the reading: Where are the responses from men who have made this connection? Where are the voices from gender non-conforming individuals? How can eco-feminists respond to the rejection of a gender binary by some in the LGBTQ community?

Photo credit: Jasmin Singer
Photo credit: Jasmin Singer

I’m excited I’ll be speaking on two panels at Vida Vegan Con regarding intersecting social justice issues. Both the “Ethics Beyond the Plate” panel and the “Veganism, Feminism and Social Justice” panel will address how to expand issues important to the vegan community outwards.

It’s encouraging so many inspiring activists are engaging in these crucial conversations in blogs, books and podcasts. Be sure to check out the book Defiant Daughters and visit the Lantern Books website to listen to clips from the evening including a reading from Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House who will also be at Vida Vegan Con this year.

Photo credit: Jasmin Singer
Photo credit: Jasmin Singer

In preparation for the conference I recently chatted with fellow panelists Erika Larson and Meave Connor. We agreed we would like to grow our panel into a larger ongoing project so keep your eyes peeled for that. Suggestions for what type of intersectional project you’d like to see are welcome in the comment section below!

One thought on “Expanding Outwards: Connecting Veganism To Other Social Justice Movements; A Guest Post by Jamie J. Hagen

    Know Thank You said:
    April 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Excellent topics. The politics of our food supply, and the cultural impacts of those politics, are too often overlooked.

    This comment is related to a very wide social justice issue, one that experts say we will see happen within the next ten to thirty years:

    Luckily, within our lifetimes we will see our entire food system changed beyond our wildest dreams. Virtually every aspect of our modern food system, from fertilizer to table, has a common Achilles Heel that within the next few decades will force dramatic change. That Achilles Heel is petrochemicals, and now that global production of petroleum has peaked the height of the food system that petrochemicals made possible is behind us. Without inexpensive fossil fuels, things such as factory farms, imported foods and alcohols, and regional hub-and-spoke grocer chains will no longer be possible. And as these things disappear, the abuses that accompanied them will also disappear.

    While that sounds like a good thing, it’s important for us to consider three points: 1) that the transition of the food system will be just one aspect of a much larger energy descent transition; 2) that many individuals, and certainly many companies, will fight this change even as its inevitability is acknowledged; and 3) that what replaces the current agribusiness food system is likely to be far more localized – so conducted by inexperienced people, and more difficult to regulate.

    1) The end of cheap and abundant fossil fuels will impact virtually every aspect of our lives. Think back to your study of Maslow’s Pyramid… we already have shelter; if we can feed ourselves too then we have already avoided a lot of potential problems. But we WILL have to learn to feed ourselves – not go to the store. Gardening, preserving, drying, and sharing.

    2) Being a highly consumerist society (even in terms of our food system) most of us will likely feel forced into transitioning into more sustainable lifestyles. Some people will embrace change; others will fight it. There will inevitably be some degree of chaos, as there is with all change. As compassionate leaders, we should be prepared to open our minds, hearts, and doors to those in need. This could be a time of food-haves and food have-nots, a time in which people may be forced to choose who they feed. We must grow enough that no such choice need be made.

    3) When consumers of meat and dairy can no longer find these products in a market they may attempt to grow and slaughter animals in their back yards. Back yard poultry and dairy is certainly a growing movement among our fellow permaculturists, and when stores have no meat we may see an increase of back yard animals. I don’t want this, and I know you don’t. Backyard slaughter is not legal in most jurisdictions now, but if we face a food crisis lawmakers may reverse or not enforce such laws.

    The energy descent timeline depends on which geologist or economist you speak to. Most agree that world petroleum production peaked in 2005, that we are now in a “rocky plateau” phase (prices and supply bumping up and down), and that soon production will begin to drop. With that prices will begin to rise, and industries with low margins will begin to falter. I have seen estimates as low as ten years from now, and some as long as thirty years. Whenever this happens, our food system will begin to change. Company consolidations, products will disappear, etc.

    Our job moving forward is to change consumers, not the dying industry. If we can successfully change consumer tastes away from meat and dairy, the forced transition away from the meat and dairy industries will be much easier for all concerned.

    I hope this hasn’t been too heavy, random, or off-topic.

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