Veganism, Capitalism and Intersectionality

Veganism, Capitalism and Intersectionality

‘’I’m sometimes really disappointed
that many of us can assume that we are these radical activists, but we don’t know how
to reflect on the food that we put into our own bodies. We don’t realise the extent
to which we are implicated in the whole process of capitalism by participating uncritically
in the food politics offered us up by the great corporations. You know I usually don’t
mention that I’m vegan. Because I think it is part of a revolutionary perspective.
How can we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings, but how can we
develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with whom we share this planet.
And that would mean challenging the whole capitalist, industrialist form of food production. hi everyone, so In my last video I argued
that centering our veganism and vegan activism on our individual lifestyle choices did a couple of things. First of all, it promoted the myth of consumer power and voting with your dollar and also sells us the lie that we
can solve world hunger and the environmental crisis through going vegan without tackling systemic issues. I was making the argument that if we are to have any hope of achieving animal liberation
and solving the most pressing issues facing of our time, we need to have an anti-capitalist political stance in our veganism. So in this video I want to continue
the discussion by arguing that one animals will always be commodities under capitalism. Secondly, centring out veganism on our individual consumption choices perpetuates an individualistic understanding of the world obscuring the necessity revolutionary organizing.
And finally, it also ignores intersectional We live in a system based off of the commodification of literally everything, our
water is a commodity that is owned, the seeds we need to grow crops to feed ourselves is
becoming increasingly dominated by Monsanto, even the genes in our bodies are becoming
a commodity owned by corporations. Under capitalism non-human animals are considered property
and commodities, sentient life doesn’t matter as long as it makes a profit.
So even if animal consumption was completely outlawed, there would undoubtedly still be
a black market for animals. anything that can be used to make a profit, will be used
to make a profit. that’s how capitalism works.
In our capitalist system, animals are commodities in any way we can imagine. Millions of sharks
are killed for their fins. trophy hunting leads to the deaths of animals like the mountain
zebra, US black bear, African elephant. We exploit circus animals and animals are often
neglected or desolate in many zoos. We sell animals for fur and animal skins. We trade
in animal parts for medical purposes. Animals are tortured and killed in labs. Hectares
of land are destroying habitats killing animals like orangutans. The pet industry multi-million
dollar industry often over-breeding them. In a system based off of commodifying everything,
we are naïve to believe that under this system we will ever achieve animal liberation.
Instead of promoting veganism as an ethical version of capitalism we need to frame is
as an alternative to capitalism. Because as Baring Teeth states ‘’to achieve animal
liberation we require a social revolution that will shift society’s perspectives of
animals, something that is not possible under capitalism. We need to start forming a critical
analysis of capitalism from a vegan, animal liberation stance instead of trying to work
around capitalism in order to save as many animals as possible.’’
Part 2 vegan listylism perpetuates an individualistic understanding of the world obscuring the necessity for revolutionary organising. It’s just teaching us that individual action is enough, that instead of having a political strategy and organising and collectivising together instead we can just consume our way to a better world. It’s teaching us that our individual actions are enough and that we don’t need a political strategy and we don’t need to challenge our exploitative system In order to bring about a vegan world all we need to do is boycott certain products and consume better. The same is true for other social movements
too. We have companies increasingly selling self-help books, feminist t-shirts, clubs
and seminars as paths to empowering women to become successful. Companies increasingly
greenwashing their products, selling us conscious collections of clothing and green products
as a way to solve climate change. But if we buy into this way of thinking, we
are doing exactly what corporations and political elites want us to be doing – consuming more,
and seeing ourselves as consumers. All this does, is allow capitalism to go on unchallenged,
with more environmental degradation and exploitation, whilst we are distracted thinking we are doing
something to create change. Emphasising consumer choices sabotages the fight against capitalism.
In fact, lifestyle activism actually was manufactured directly for this purpose of distraction
after the more revolutionary minded movements of the 60s and 70s were on the decline to
prevent the dismantling of the power structures that we should be fighting. As Sebastian Livingston
brilliantly put it – Within advanced capitalism, consumer culture serves as a counter revolutionary
safeguard, a sedative. And as we come to identify with the products of our alienated labor rather
than realize our alienation within the process of production we sink deeper into the veins
of capital, becoming the reproductive organs of the beast.’’ i
I am of course all for people going vegan be vegan if they are able to. I am a vegan myself
of course I think it’s important. However, I think it’s so important that we recognise that the issue is systemic and that consuming vegan products shouldn’t be confused with a political strategy
that will change the world. My worry is that this focus may bleed away
the energy it takes to organise struggle at the collective level, to improve working conditions,
to engage in revolutionary organising, and defend civil rights, and challenge capitalism. The
more we focus on lifestyle changes, the more capitalism goes unchallenged and we get ever
closer to 6 degree warming and extinction. By placing the responsibility on the individual
to reduce the amount of animal products in their diet we are taking the blame away from
the corporations who actually kill and slaughter animals for profit. The idea that we
can create change through consumption pacifies us, and so long as we promote lifestyle changes
– it’s a form of reform that keep us in a state of equilibrium within capitalist society. Instead of all of us coming together to fight
unjust systems, this vegan lifestylism encourages individuals to opt out and distance themselves
from these systems rather than confronting them. It can easily make us have a holier
than thou, me against the world attitude where we demonise people for behaving in a certain
way, such as consuming meat – instead of acknowledging the ways in which our capitalist
system conditions peoples actions. By placing all responsibility on the individual
it also plays into the oppressive trope that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps
and become vegan if they only try hard enough. But this ignores the enormous and inescapable
forces shaping food choices we make and the fact that systematic oppression prohibits
some people from being able to be vegan. It also creates a division between those who
are able to afford to be vegan as good, and those who aren’t due to factors like wages,
food insecurity, food desserts, availability of food as bad. There is no economic
or class analysis within vegan lifestylism that tries to unpack how the system makes
it impossible for many to be vegan. In the US alone 23.5 million people live in food
desserts. It also directly correlates with the vote with your dollar mentality. That we can
vote with our dollar for a better world. I won’t even go into that, because Peter Coffin
and Marine from A Privileged Vegan have made amazing videos about how problematic vote
with your dollar is that I’ll link in the description box below. Part Three, vegan lifestylism ignores the need for an intersectional approach to animal liberation. One of the biggest issues with lifestyle veganism is that in focusing purely on individual consumption
choices, it prevents veganism from being part of an intersectional movement, because whilst
it’s focus is on the oppression of animal bodies, it ignores and is silent about the
injustices and oppressions of people of colour, of women, of non-typically abled bodies. Veganism heavily intersects with many other
issues and could go so far if it were to acknowledge these intersections and work alongside other
oppressed groups. To give just a few examples, although there are many more, concentrated
animal feeding operations are placed strategically near people of colour communities, who then
are impacted by the irresponsibly managed waste that pollutes the air, water and food.
Lifestyle veganism ignores the plight of slaughterhouse workers who are not evil people,
but poor and marginalized often immigrants forced to work these jobs. Vegan lifestylism
ignores how most plant-based foods are anything but “cruelty free” when you take into
account the mistreatment and often enslavement of farm workers in developing nations growing
this food. Animal oppression is also the oppression of people of colour, it’s the oppression
of the working class, it’s the oppression of women. Not only does vegan lifesylism ignore these
intersection, but vegan activists have often deliberately undermined other movements in
order to further animal rights movements. For example protestors inspired by the Cowspiracy
film denounced the People’s Climate March in Edmonton because its focus was on oil and
gas rather than personal behaviours. Vegans used the hashtag ALLLIVESMATTER to talk about
veganism, disregarding the #blacklivesmatter movement and excluding the voices of people of colour. Sometimes it goes even further than this,
by utilising the history of oppression of female bodies and black bodies and other oppressed
groups as a tool to promote veganism. Because when the goal is to get more people
to consume more vegan products and ignore how it intersects with other issues, any strategy
is apparently fair game. For example, Peta, the largest animal rights
organisation in the world, has run ads run that are classist, racist, sexist, ableist,
fatphobic. Some comparing the murder of sex workers to pig farming, promoting adds that
sexualise violence performed against women, exotifying women of colour, comparing factory
farming to Nazi Germany. Vegan activists have questioned whether black lives are as important
as the lives of cows and chickens and use women as ornaments to promote veganism, and
the only ones deemed worth displaying are the ones deemed conventionally attractive
enough to sell veganism. And it’s mostly white middle calss men that are the authors
and theorists dominating the animal rights movement. The problem with this single-issue approach
and focusing exclusively on veganism, is that this is what the capitalist system wants.
It wants us to fight as individuals, rather than all oppressed groups uniting together
to fight together because all struggles are connected. Rather than ostracising other social justice
movements, veganism would gain a lot by working and fighting alongside other movements. Because
their own liberation is tied to the same economic system. We must acknowlevdge how various systems
of oppression are entangled with each other. And acknowledge we can’t focus exclusively
on veganism because oppression is multi-pronged and we have to get to the root of the oppression.
Almost any form of activism fights capitalism. Environmentalist fight a capitalism system based
on relentless growth and exploitation of the natural world. Animal rights activists fight corporations exploiting animals. Social justice
activists fight for impoverished people who are poor because some people hoard wealth in a
capitalist system. Indigeneous activists fight against capitalist expropriation and colonisation
of their land for resources and profits. Instead of focusing on individualising it, making
it just about the animals, we must make it about the system of oppression in general.
wEe must unite these different social movements because they all intersect! This means veganism
would have to fight too against racism, sexism, ableism, and the other isms A lot of people will hear everything I just said and think, well there’s not point in
going vegan then there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism anyway. But in my opinion
choosing to not act ethically where one can because it’s not going to change an oppressive
system is a cop-out. We need to practice what we preach and the revolution starts in my
opinion from the bottom up. Since we still live under capitalism, there’s no point
waiting until it’s totally abolished before fighting for change and consuming better.
Because even if we had a worldwide revolution and workers owned all means of production
there’s no guarantee that that would magically result in animal liberation, so we need to
begin today. So yes, if you’re able to, go vegan. but
is this enough? not at all. being vegan is great, but it is not the end goal. it’s
just the beginning We must stop infantilising the conversation,
from being about what products we are consuming, to moving being about how animal liberation intersects with so many with other issues in the world and how we need a systemic strategy in order to overcome animal exploitation. We need to stop using tactics that are racist, sexist ableist etc. we must allying with other movements, integrating vegan
concerns with other movements in order to create systemic change. By standing with other movements we
are helping animals because they benefit from movements that challenge capitalist system
because it’s the same system they themselves are oppressed by. Whether we choose to ally with other movements or
not, will make the difference between the veganism becoming increasingly corporotised and
veganism not making a dent on the slaughter of animals, or veganism being seen as
a fundamental part of anti-oppression struggles. To be an anti-capitalist vegan is in my opinion
to understand that a system based on unlimited growth and profit at all costs is anti-life,
a system where humans and animals will always be exploited.
To be an anti-capitalist vegan is to recognise the urgent and inescapable reality that we
need a new system if we are to avoid mass extinction beginning by 2100.
To be an anti-capitalist vegan is to unite with and show support and solidarity for other
social justice movements, engaging in collective action because we are all oppressed by the
same system. Whether you choose to buy into lifestyle veganism
or choose to view veganism as a political stance, the choice is ultimately yours. But I hope
this video has made you consider somewhat the pitfalls of consumer-drive veganism and
the need to confront and change institutions that shape policies and culture and make animal
abuse possible in the first place and I really appreciate you sticking around right to the end and if you want to support my work, I would appreciate so much if you could share this video like and subscribe and if you want to you can support me on patreon, thank you!

25 thoughts on “Veganism, Capitalism and Intersectionality

  1. Thank you so much for watching!!! Please check the description box for more information on anti-capitalist veganism, or watch Part One here:

  2. Hell yeah. Revolutionary leftist veganism is the only way to achieve emancipation for all animals – human and non-human alike

  3. Okay so question. If capitalism truely is the root of all evils in the universe then why is it that the world was still such a dumpster fire before Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in 1776 and Max Weber's publication of the book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism published 1905.

    There was more war. There was more suffering. We had even more poverty back then considering there wasn't even such a thing as a middle class. And guess what, animals were used just as much as a way to survive back then than they are today.

  4. Please activate the community captions ! At least for the 2 parts of that video. I know some peoples who would really like that.
    And congrats for the good quality content 👍

  5. I knew this video would be great, but I didn’t know it would be THIS great! Being vegan is not enough on its own, but that doesn’t mean we should just wait around for the revolution.

  6. You look malnorished. Try some raw liver and fat. You will be fixed in a month.

    Also the only solution is a 100% free market with state ownership of banks and large corps. A'la national socialism.

  7. I feel like we're waiting for someone to start, for an event or provocation – from either side – that will be the signal for the "real" revolution.
    I'd do it myself, but I have no plan and no time and no money and don't want to be beaten to death if I can't be sure it will do any good. What can we do that won't just make things worse?

  8. The concept of lifestyle choices as a form of political expression is such a first world delusion. To a campesino in Guatemala the idea to consume less or consume differently is as alien as grow wings and fly. Once one surrenders to an identity as a consumer (a unit of consumption) all other human values… love, compassion, empathy, tolerance, community, charity, art, common purpose….can be reduced to their transactional value in the marketplace and what it means to be human becomes just another caisson in the supply train of planetary destruction.
    We in the developed world are as complicit as we are ignorant of our passive fealty to this system which enslaves rather than serves our shared human values. There will come a time (perhaps yesterday) when it will be too late to act. MLK jr famously said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere". So if animals are your passion fight for justice there, but remember it is just part of the fight for justice everywhere.

    Everything is connected… we are all connected.

    Well done Kathrin.

  9. wonderful work, thank you for this. You might appreciate the movie Your Mommy Kills Animals, it is a documentary that compares various animal rights groups such as Peta and Animal Liberation Front

  10. Some questions:
    1) Are you against eating meat, or killing animals, or both? For example, once we have the technology to grow meat in a laboratory will you still be against eating meat?
    2) If you are against killing animals, what about killing animals like rodents for overpopulation reasons or hunting seasons to control animal populations?
    3) What about animals that eat other animals, is that good or bad and how do you solve that problem?
    4) What about Native American traditions of eating meat: good or bad?
    5) Is political veganism a new type of identity politics?
    6) What are your thoughts on PETA and animal rights activists?
    Thanx for your responses.

  11. This has been out for over three weeks! So much for YT notifications – failed again. Excellent stuff. Your video work is coming along in leaps & bounds. I love Mexie's take on this too.

  12. By your own arguments of union, how is the slogan, all lives matter disregarding black lives matter? It is merely a more general statement. I recommend being careful with excessive identity politics which seems to yield division. Black people are not oppressed by their skin colour but by prejudice. The goal should be that all organisms are politically equal and don´t have to identify with skin colour or sex as a political defense anymore.

  13. I found the villain figure of Sauron from Lord of the rings to be such a fitting metaphor for capitalism.

  14. Excellent video. By anti capitalist do you mean socialist? Emancipation of all beings can only be achieved by revolution socialism that will democratise all aspects of our lives.
    Love & peace.

  15. Mexie has made a phenomenal resource that covers a lot of questions about veganism I received after making this video, I'd highly recommend checking it out:

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