Tuesday, February 05, 2008


This month marks the fifth year of my meat-free diet, and the third that I’ve been strictly vegan. For me, veganism is one (important) facet of my commitment to a world which is free of exploitation. I don’t hide the fact that I’m staunchly anti-capitalist—and, thanks to social theorists like Karl Polanyi, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Etienne Balibar, I view capitalism as the root cause of things like racism, sexism, and speciesism.

How did I get here? Well, I’m not really sure. My undergrad supervisor asked me that one day and I had no easy answer. I grew up in a conservative little town in upstate NY where half the school population is missing on the first day of snowmobiling, hunting, and fishing seasons. My parents aren’t quite conservative, but seem to view over-consumption as an American right.

I wasn’t overly aware of political issues when I was growing up. I was concerned about gender inequalities and global warming during high school. I was an animal-lover, and sensitive to others’ troubles. In year 12 government class, we all took an online quiz that matched our values with the political party closest to us. From a class of 30 students, there were 25 republicans, 4 democrats, and one green—me.

In uni, I went through a post-modern feminist phase for a while, but was never really sold on that ideology. In my second semester of uni I became vegetarian and refused to eat or use any product that an animal had to die for (meat, gelatin, leather, cheese with rennet, etc). I was a half-hearted greenie for a while, but thought band-aid solutions were a waste of time.

To make up for excessive wordiness, how about some cat pictures?

Pop goes the Nacho!

I spent a semester in Australia without my po-mo then-supervisor’s influence and shook that attachment. When I returned to the US, I took theory-heavy classes with some great professors which revolutionised the way I thought about the system we live in. I went vegan and anarchist. I read Marx and thought his critique of capitalism was spot-on. I did an honours project on Rastafarians, the ultimate anti-systemic group. I moved back to Australia and now I’m studying Aboriginal activism.

Opposing the forces of racial, sexist, and speciesist exploitation can be a tiring pursuit. Oppression is all around, and it gets depressing to see it everywhere you turn. That’s why veganism is so appealing to me, because it is an incredibly simple way to remove one form of exploitation from my immediate life. And, hopefully we vegans—through our blogs and our good health and our tasty treats—encourage others to buy into the animal industries a little bit less.

That said, I don’t think that simply eating tasty vegan food is enough, and I’ve been feeling a bit stir-crazy lately, so expect some more political posts in the future.


Romina said...

Congratulations! 5 years is a huge commitment, as is 3 years of being a vegan. Cheers to being vegans to the end of our days. =)

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...
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ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Nacho just keeps getting cuter and cuter-- did he actually put himself into that box? You should send that photo in to a contest!

And congrats on five years!!!! Being vegan is the best lifestyle ever :o). Your political savvy is inspiring to me (I am trying very hard to become more aware of what's going on in the world around me and how my choices influence others'... I have a long way to go, though).

To answer your question, my dad works in international insurance, so I've gotten to live all over the world. I haven't been to Australia yet, though!

Al said...

You took a class with Bob Torres? I'm jealous.

Congrats on your Veganniversary!

I too came from a conservative town and somewhat conservative family. At least once a week I think to myself, huh ... how the hell did this happen?

the vegan blog tracker said...

Happy Veganniversary! And holy crap those pics were cute!

Vegetation said...

Happy Vegan (and veggie) versary! And Nacho is SOOOO cute (and getting bigger me thinks? Must be all that veganpet :P)

Ashasarala said...

I admire you! There's so much to learn about this mixed up world but I just can't bring myself to study the nitt-gritty. I get so incredibly angry. Instead, I focus on diet and animal rights and do what I can.

Luckily the vegan revolution is slowly making it's way. There is still an obscene amount of people who over-consume and eat tons of meat and dairy, but every year there are more and more vegans. It's a nice thing to know. :)

And come to think of it, I think I just reached my 5-year mark of veganism (I've been vegetarian since I was 12). I don't remember the exact date, though. I'm guessing it was some time in the winter I took the plunge.

By the way, LOVE the random Nacho pics. It was a good balance of politics and cuteness. haha

the little one said...

Rock on! I hope you keep the political posts coming! Vegans are a great audience (I hope) for presenting ideas they might not have previously thought about.

the pleasantly plump vegan said...

i totally agree- "an incredibly simple way to remove one form of exploitation from my immediate life." it is a simple and personal way of not being apart of suffering and oppression. i look forward to more of yr political posts.

Amy said...

Hey, I like the political posts! It's interesting to hear your story. No one in my family is even vegetarian. Congrats on your veganversary!

And that kitten is damn cute!

DJ said...

I totally agree with what you're saying about veganism being a great way to remove one form of exploitation from your life - as for everything else, sometimes when I'm feeling depressed I wonder how do live outside the machine when the machine is all around you?
Anyhow - Happy Veganniversary! There more of us every day...

Minnie said...

I agree, too...about the removing exploitation. I'm much more aware of all the naughtiness and manipulation that goes on. I just don't get the cruelty..why people are like that.

Well done re the anniversary. Once I get some gluten flour I'm going to try the chickpea burger recipe and make seitan. Gluten flour is quite difficult to get hold of over here, but I've managed to find a supplier:O)

The pics of Nacho are lovely. Such a beautiful cat. My little girl is always taking pics of our lot and their antics. Got tons of them. lol

Emmie said...

Happy veggieversary! I'm looking forward to some more political posts from you, you're very smart and your views seem close to mine. I haven't read much theory but I do know my core values and try to live by them. I've been feminist since I was 14 years old, it seems so far away now. The girl I was then is so different from what I am now, but atleast I had feminism nailed, although it didn't define me as a person the way it does today :)