6 Responses

  1. Lucas June 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm |

    Thanks, Jeff. It’s great that Parr discusses Torres’s offering. He’s not even discussed in vegan circles that much. Same with Nibert (his most recent work: http://www.cupblog.org/?p=10179).

    I think Parr’s question is important, and it’s one many vegans struggle with. However, framing veganism in a way that reduces it to “eating habits” is misleading. Many vegans see veganism as a principle of non-exploitation (indeed this is historical veganism), and not consuming animal products is simply what logically flows from this principle. Rather than seeing non-consumption of animal products as the end, many vegans take a broader view and oppose all forms of exploitation. Of course, as many readers of C&C understand, this is quite hard to actualize while caught up in an extremely exploitative system. It’s not just a problem with limitations of living vegan, for certain.

    I look forward to getting my hands on Parr’s book to read more of what she or he has to say and/or recommend about transcending the capitalist system.

    Also, for those interested, the Food Empowerment Project is a vegan, food justice organization that I feel better represents the vegan ideal much more than many mainstream promoters of veganism: http://www.foodispower.org/

    Thanks again!


  2. Lucas May 20, 2013 at 1:33 am |

    While it is true that many vegans fail to see beyond mere plant based consumerism, there are many other vegans who see veganism as a movement (or, for the individual, a principle) to challenge exploitation and oppression of humans and other animals. Indeed, the latter would be more in line with veganism as a historical movement dating back to 1944.

    For anyone interested, notable contempary anti-capitalist vegan authors on the left include David Nibert (author of Animal Rights/Human Rights and Animal Oppression and Human Violence) and Bob Torres (Author of Making A Killing, The Political Economy of Animal Rights).

    1. Jeff White June 24, 2013 at 11:58 pm |

      Adrian Parr says, at pages 95-96 of The Wrath of Capital:

      “Bob Torres has published a terrific analysis of the political economy of animal rights, Making a Killing, and I certainly sympathize with the social anarchist position he presents. He states from the outset of the book that sexism, racism, and our relations with animals are structured through a series of historical relations of domination that benefit one group of people or one species over another. Using Marxist theory to highlight the ideological and economic relations behind livestock production, Torres situates animal rights alongside gender, race, and class oppression…

      “The main thrust of Torres’s argument is that capitalism has commodified animals….In his conclusion, he…explains that the most effective way to contest animal exploitation and commodification is by becoming vegan….

      “So I return to the question of whether modifying one’s personal eating habits is enough to produce change at an institutional and structural level? Does this approach sufficiently engage with the objective forms of violence endemic to the industrial food complex and the inequities propounded by that system? More troubling, does equating politics with personal responsibility in this way unwittingly reinforce a basic constituent of neoliberalism — that individuals, not governments or historical forces, are personally responsible for their own successes and failures?”

  3. Alex May 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

    I double checked, and I did indeed misspeak. Friends of the Earth Europe cites the book “Livestock’s Long Shadow” that 97% of soy meal is used as livestock feed, and that soy meal consists of 70% of all soy beans. I apologize.

  4. Alex May 17, 2013 at 12:59 am |

    While I do agree with her conclusion that veganism cannot merely be “consumerism as social action,” but the assertion that vegan consumption of soy products is connected to deforestation in the Amazon is factually incorrect. 97% of the soy grown in Amazon is used as feed for livestock.

    1. Jeff White May 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm |

      I’m no expert, but Alex’s 97% figure appears to be exaggerated.

      One vegan blogger quotes http://www.soyatech.com:

      About 85 percent of the world’s soybean crop is processed into meal and vegetable oil, and virtually all of that meal is used in animal feed. Some two percent of the soybean meal is further processed into soy flours and proteins for food use… Approximately six percent of soybeans are used directly as human food, mostly in Asia.

      Lester Brown says:

      Where does the 250-million-ton world soybean crop go? One tenth or so is consumed directly as food — tofu, meat substitutes, soy sauce, and other products. Nearly one fifth is extracted as oil, making it a leading table oil. The remainder, roughly 70 percent of the harvest, ends up as soybean meal to be consumed by livestock and poultry.

      Soybean oil is also the majority ingredient in Brazil’s booming diodiesel industry.

      It’s true that blaming the tiny vegan minority of the world’s population for Amazon deforestation is absurd (if indeed that is what Adrian Parr claims in her book, which I have not yet read). But it’s also true that most vegans believe their food choices are environmentally benign, whereas in fact they are just as much part of capitalist consumerism as everybody else.

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