Feminism/Veganism - Same Difference
A history of male indifference to animals and women is what ultimately unites and divides us.
So, it is 2018 and I'm watching Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, a documentary that I had been meaning to watch for some time. Veganuary was everywhere at the beginning of the New Year and the internet was full of reasons as to why you should 'Go Vegan'.
I have been a Vegetarian since my teens in the 1980s, and never ate a huge amount of meat at all prior to then anyway. I just never cared for the idea. Mad Cow Disease in the 1990s ensured this lifestyle choice carried on into mid-life for me.
I had never especially been a great animal lover either and I certainly didn't delve too deeply into animal rights or welfare throughout my life as a Vegetarian. That came later, quite a bit later, like 30 years later.
And it was while watching Cowspiracy that something just clicked inside of me. It dawned on me, for the first time unbelievably, that millions upon millions of animals were being bred, raised then slaughtered for human consumption and gain. I know it sounds ridiculous but whilst the truth is obviously there in a person’s subconsciousness, it is rare that the correlation makes its way to the forefront of our everyday thoughts. Life is just far too demanding for it to give way to something that doesn't impact upon us in the same way it does the animals we consume and wear.
Then I remembered a subject I studied at University; Ecofeminism, 'a movement and philosophy that links ecology with feminism' according to the great, late Francoise d'Eaubonne.
And it got me thinking about my own contribution to the food chain in a different light. No, I don’t eat meat per se on my plate because yes I am a Vegetarian; but yes I do consume dairy in the form of cheese, cream and milk, and lots of it. I had previously given no thought as to how dairy food is processed or ends up in tubs on the shelves of food stores. I only remembered the bit about laughing cows and happy eggs.
With this in mind there is an obvious link for me at least, between animals and women. I would also go so far as to say there is a link between animals and the wider LGBTQ+ community. We may not end up on fridge counters but we are definitely a part of a global system that promotes inequality for those without a voice. And while great strides are continuously being made for greater rights and protections in my community, sadly our intelligent, loving neighbours on the only Earth we know of, are still suffering at the hands of the dairy industry.
Going back to the link between animals and women, you only have to look at the names women are referred to as; bitch, cow, pig, rump, while men are described as butch, beefcakes, summed up succinctly by Carol J Adams in 'The Sexual Politics of Meat', to realise that there is something inherently masculine and controlling about eating animals.
Veganism is seen as a weakness in men as by forfeiting meat they are giving in to nature; synonymous with being female and giving up their control. Sadly, women also subscribe to this theory that eating meat is a 'man thing' and perfectly natural.
Becoming a Vegan is a personal choice, talking about it can be very contentious and evokes emotions in people on a par with politics and religion. The number of people you could potentially fall out with over this subject is amazing too; family, friends and work colleagues alike. A friend of mine said her husband could never do without meat. Hello, if I can give up cream and milk chocolate which were just as precious to me as his beloved beef/lamb/pork, then actually yes he could, if he really wanted to.
But, the penny has to drop with an almighty thud first for each individual. I have found that no amount of preaching or scaremongering has changed the diets or lifestyles of any of my peers, yet. But it has paved the way for them at least to give the subject some food for thought.
It is quite difficult in my view to become the perfect Vegan. Even just going for a coffee with friends can be tricky. I find myself carting oat milk with me everywhere I go now. But since I have seen the light, there is simply #nogoingbacktodairylikeever.
That is why any small step one person takes towards a change in their diet and/or lifestyle is a huge step forward for animals everywhere.