I’m super duper excited about a new book anthology, and I hope you’ll join me in spreading the call for submissions far and wide so that the collection can be a great success. Lantern Books, who produced the Sistah Vegan anthology, is currently selecting non-academic personal essays written by Latina* vegans. The publisher wants to hear about the connections between Latina vegans’ veganism and their culture, as well as conflicts or challenges that have come up. Submissions should be between 2,500 and 5,000 words and be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I wrote recently, it is essential for us to elevate the voices of vegans of color. (White vegans, I’m talking to you! Be a good ally and be more intentional and proactive about sharing POC vegans’ work.) It’s true that a lot of us, whether white or POC, grew up eating animal products (I loved some cold chicken feet when I was a kid) but POC are targeted by racism in some specific ways by the mainstream animal rights movement. People of color are often demonized as somehow less capable of compassion than white people even though, in my not-so-humble opinion, eating dogs or animals’ feet and heads is no more cruel than eating any other type of animal (a cow, pig, chicken) or body part of an animal. Bull running and dog fighting are no more cruel than the circuses and rodeos that are totally acceptable in white American culture. Hugo Dominguez, of Direct Action Everywhere, reflects (puzzled) on his loved ones’ reactions to him going vegan:
“I couldn’t quite understand in what way my culture and heritage and my compassion for animals were mutually exclusive? How was it that me being against dog fighting, beating elephants with bull hooks to perform cruel tricks, the slaughter of baby farm animals, the killing of dolphins and whales, driving nails inside a conscious monkey’s skull, force-feeding a duck until their organs give out and die, injecting a bunny’s eye with poison and needlessly killing animals in the trillions every year was considered ‘Un-Mexican.’
We can and should adapt our beloved cultural traditions to fit with our vegan lifestyles. As a Chinese person, I am excited to be getting together with some friends in a few weeks for vegan hotpot. I would love to see a restaurant or recipe book featuring vegan dim sum recipes, which is another favorite dining tradition of mine. Rejecting certain parts of our culture that we disagree with, and adapting other things so that we can hold onto them doesn’t make us any less authentic or committed to our roots, and calling us “more white” because we are trying to be more sustainable and compassionate is undoubtedly racist. Meanwhile white people who are traveling to other countries can stop eating crickets and live sushi and supporting other animal-exploitative industries in their efforts to have a more “authentic (read: exotic)” cultural experience.
Another point: stop using the word “vegan” as a synonym for “cruelty-free” because they are not the same thing. Trust me, I wish they were. I wish that every single fruit, vegetable, bean, nut, and grain that I ate was harvested by a worker who was properly fed, housed, compensated, and otherwise cared for, but this is not the case. A. Breeze Harper makes the point that plant harvesting is often romanticized as “cruelty-free” when in reality the conditions of harvesting certain crops such as strawberries are very cruel indeed.
As vegans of color, I both think it’s important to work on building coalitions across culture and race, but I also think it’s important for vegans within one particular cultural context to build community with one another. In A. Breeze Harper’s book, Sistah Vegan, she was very intentional about exclusively bringing together black female vegans to talk about their unique perspective. Lagusta wrote a great review of Sistah Vegan and excerpted some of her favorite parts, which I hope you read and share. I hope that this new anthology featuring vegan Latinas can serve a similar purpose as Sistah Vegan. I hope also that the contributors will bring in analysis of misogyny and feminism (or however they choose to describe it.)
*Lantern is using the term Latina to refer to those with Mexican, Central and South American, and Caribbean backgrounds. Even if writers don’t love the term “Latina” they are encouraged to submit to this collection.
Some favorite links/resources:
- Everyone must check out Food Empowerment Project’s work immediately. They are the beneficiary of the book royalties and I can’t imagine a more deserving organization. They are a vegan organization so educate around cruelty to nonhumans in the animal agriculture industry, but they understand and advocate for the human workers in our food industry as well, which I think is absolutely critical. The founder and director, lauren Ornelas is brilliant, and I really hope that I can met her someday!
- Animal Liberationists of Color (Facebook page here) in Oakland, CA is tightly associated with the creative and active organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). Hugo Dominguez I mentioned above and is doing great work with DxE in Chicago. He wrote this essay, “My Experience as a Mexican Vegan Animal Liberationist of Immigrant Parents.”
- La Loba Loca is an fierce Peruvian artist and rabblerouser and wrote “D.I.Y & LOCALLY MADE FOOD: What the hipsters din’t tell you”
- Vegans of Color is an excellent discussion group on Facebook. @vegansofcolor is also a good account to follow on Twitter, though you’ll have to request to follow because it’s private.
- Luz Calvo and Catriona R. Esquibel are the geniuses behind Decolonize Your Diet, which advocates for a MesoAmerican plant-based diet. ¡La comida es medicina! They have some good links to other kindred spirit organizations too.