reflections

Pro-choice is not anti-vegan

I submitted the below piece to the bimonthly zine, Sister Species Solidarity. I had never heard of the zine before, but it’s now on my feminist/animal liberationist reading list and I eagerly await the next issue. Creating knowledge and discussion outside of the realm of academia is important work, and I’m glad that the editors prioritize the voices of women and people targeted by sexism. There’s no pandering to male allies for the sake of “diversity and inclusion.” This issue’s theme was Bodily Autonomy, so I wrote about reproductive justice and abortion access. Enjoy! 

People often ask me, why are you pro-choice? (They will often ask me why I am pro-abortion, and why I care so much more about the lives of chickens, pigs, and cows than unborn humans.) They say that they are pro “all” life, that they don’t think terminating a fetus can possibly be consistent with vegan ethics of causing least harm.

First of all, I’m not pro-abortion. I’m pro-choice, which is an entirely separate framing of reproductive justice. If someone wants to carry a pregnancy to term, they should be able to do so. Every sentient being should be trusted to decide for themself when is the right time to start and build a family, and which kind of family they want to build. Single parents, teen parents, low-income parents, disabled parents, queer/trans parents, parents of color, etc. need support and resources that suit their families’ needs, not shaming.

The difference between a human uterus haver* and a hen is that the human can consent to having a fetus removed (one who is seeking an abortion is specifically asking for that), whereas the hen (lacking the ability to communicate with us humans) can’t consent to having her egg taken. The human and the hen both deserve the right to bodily autonomy and self-governance. Eggs aren’t just “lying around” – if you crack an egg open for a hen they will gobble it right up.

If you want to reduce abortion rates, which is a noble endeavor, the way to do that is comprehensive sexual education, accessible and affordable birth control and sexual health services, and resources and support such as parental leave and childcare support so that people feel like parenting is a feasible choice for them. Forcing a person to carry a child to term and then to keep that kiddo or give them up for adoption doesn’t sound like respecting someone’s bodily autonomy to me.

Also, it would be super if we could talk about not eating the bodies and secretions of other animals without being misogynist toward humans. Eating eggs (for instance) is wrong because taking something that belongs to someone else without their consent is wrong, not because women and periods (and therefore eggs) are gross.

*I am using the clunky phrase “uterus-haver” rather than “woman” because not all women have uteruses (think of trans women, or women who have had a hysterectomy) and not all people who have uteruses are women even though they may still be able to become pregnant (think of trans men or genderqueer or nonbinary female-assigned people.) Access to family planning care and abortions when needed is a reproductive justice issue for people of all genders.

**I will acknowledge one hole in my argument for reproductive justice. I do support spay/neuter programs for domesticated animals. I think it just to ask the question of why I would, when I absolutely oppose the control of reproduction for any human who is capable of consenting to their own reproductive decisions. The compromise with spay/neuter programs for domesticated animals is because we live in a world that is violent to nonhumans and that has exploited them at every turn for millenia. I believe that nonhuman animals are here for their own purposes and do not exist for us to use. At the same time, I wish to avoid causing them harm to the greatest extent that I can. I believe that on the grand scheme of things, not spaying/neutering animals (e.g. dogs and cats) will cause them to reproduce with one another which will ultimately cause more violence to their offspring in this speciesist society.

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community, reflections

Paws and Think: Woof You Be a Foster (Dog) Parent?

Me in 1991, with my first doggy love, Maia Papaya. I miss her!

I’m really excited to become a dog foster parent. I haven’t lived with a dog full-time since I left my parents and hometown more than seven years ago to move to Colorado, and I think that living with a dog again will bring new joy and adventure into my life. My partners and I applied to foster through three different organizations, and we are ready to go as soon as one of those applications gets approved.

Fostering animals through any program is helpful and saves lives, so prospective foster parents shouldn’t stress too much over the particular program they support. Because I feel most comfortable working with no-kill animal shelters, we applied at MaxFund Animal Adoption Center, which also has an attached low-cost veterinary clinic. (On a somewhat related note, I’m encouraging MaxFund to plan increasingly vegan fundraising events, because a pro-animal organization should keep critters off the dinner table in addition to in our homes and hearts. I’m sure this will be a multi-year process of advocacy.) Folks who want to get involved with the no-kill advocacy scene should check out No Kill Colorado and the No Kill Advocacy Center’s No-Kill Equation.

Two other rescue organizations might be of special interest to Colorado-based animal rights activists. Kindness Ranch is three hours north of Denver and is the only animal sanctuary dedicated to rescuing and rehoming animals formerly used in research (particularly beagles, the dog breed most commonly used in research due to their size and docile nature.) The second group is the Colorado Springs-based National Mill Dog Rescue which rescues and rehomes dogs who were formerly part of the puppy mill industry. These excite me because they both provide ample opportunity for telling individual animals’ stories and advocacy to dismantle exploitative animal industries. Furthermore, dogs who have been caged and poorly treated for their entire lives require special attention, care, and socialization best delivered in a homey environment with foster parents. I hope that it goes without saying that vegans and animal rights activists should rescue animals rather than buy them, no matter how “reputable” a breeder a dog comes from. Ending breeding programs and rescuing individuals who are already here is, in my opinion, a key part of ending breedism and our relationship to non-human animals as commodities.

Alexis and I are excited to feed our foster dog a well-balanced vegan diet, since dogs are omnivores (unlike cats, who are obligate carnivores) and can thrive on many of the foods we do. There are various companies that make vegan kibbles for dogs, namely Nature’s Balance and V-Dog. We are probably going to go with V-Dog since they are a vegan-owned company, and we’ll add homemade veggie stew to the food to make meals a little more interesting. We are excited to make some homemade dog treats as well, which brings me way back to making dog treats with my dad in the early nineties.

41pP1taP0RLI plan to speak up about dog rescue and get our foster critters as much visibility as possible, even though I know it will be hard to let go of critters once they find a forever home. Bandanas like this one at right let members of the public know that a foster dog is available to go to a forever home, and merch from places like Project Blue Collar both signal a canine companion as a rescue and support rescue projects. We’ll be able to take advantage of free training classes for foster dogs through the Misha May Foundation. I’m excited that we live very close to the newly-opened Lowry Dog Park (find more Denver dog parks here) and the hilariously-named Watering Bowl, a dog- and human-friendly watering hole similar to northwest Denver’s Bark Bar. We plan to adopt a dog once we are more permanently established in jobs and housing, but I hope that even after that happens that we will keep fostering dogs. As my friend Hugo says, the next step after veganism is activism, not raw foodism or being gluten/oil/sugar/soy-free. I hope that fostering and storytelling can be a small part of my activism going forward.

P.S. Cats aren’t possible for us because of allergies, but there is a cat cafe opening in Denver in mid-November. Part of the goal is to find the cats good forever homes. Marc and I will definitely be checking this place out.

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reflections

Guest Post by Liz Ross: Why I Protested Thug Kitchen

In light of the recent controversy over the duo who created the blog, Thug Kitchen (TK), and hid their identities until the launch of their vegan cookbook under the same name, members of Cali Vegans of Color collaborated with a diverse group of ethical vegans and launched a protest campaign at TK book tour events that were scheduled to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. As a result, all three October events were cancelled.

Michelle Davis’ and Matt Holloway’s cookbook is a banal attempt at crafting “rapper” words by two white individuals who obviously don’t mingle with a diverse and progressive group – a book viewed as creative and funny by those who only get their exposure of people of color through Hollywood stereotypes and the sensational evening news. Their vegan recipes aren’t particularly creative and blend in with the other dime-a-dozen cookbooks that clutter bookstores. Notwithstanding, this obvious and poor attempt at appropriating negative stereotypes of black men has a serious side.

Clearly, the word “thug” can be used to refer to non-blacks, but the reality is, over the past few years, in this culture, thug is almost exclusively reserved for black males and the attacks are almost always by white males. The history of the criminalization of African Americans and racist coded language is no secret. One doesn’t need to have a PhD in sociology to recognize that this culture perpetuates associations with the image of a thug, a criminal and a black male. Unfortunately, too many are quick to dive into the deep end of the denial pool, even in light of the media’s attention to violent attacks by police officers and white vigilantes toward unarmed black men. Michael Dunn, the white man who murdered Jordan Davis, an unarmed black teenager, for playing loud music, called him a thug. Trayvon Martin’s name became synonymous with the word thug to justify that he “deserved” his unfortunate fate, and black athletes are labeled thugs while white athletes get a free pass. As Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks and Stanford graduate, said during a press conference, “[thug is] the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays”.

The City of Ferguson, MO, is under investigation by the FBI for racial profiling of its African American citizens after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. State Trooper, Sean Groubert, shot Levar Jones several times as Mr. Jones reached for his driver’s license after Officer Groubert stopped Mr. Jones for a safety seatbelt violation and asked for his identification. But somehow these and many other stories do not seem to shake deeply held racist beliefs out from its unconscious abyss into self reflection. Even if one has been out of the loop on the new coded N-word, to deny that this culture criminalizes black people is to affirm one’s privilege, or speaks volumes to one’s lack of elementary critical thinking.

The authors’ decision to hide their identities until now clearly indicates culpability. Several activists in our group tried to engage in a critique on the TK Facebook page and blog and their comments were deleted and they were banned. So it became quite evident to us that the authors knew exactly what they were doing and didn’t give a damn about anyone’s objection to the book. The authors and publisher were clearly out to make a profit and avoid any real discussion.

No one was advocating a government ban on the book either, but a few bookstore owners who replied to my email tried to spin this into a free speech issue and encouraged a discussion at the book signing. This, in my opinion, was a cop-out and would have projected the false message that they were acting in the best interest of fairness and the community. I doubt they would have hosted a Jihadist in the name of free-speech and fair debate. In addition, inviting the authors (and their fans) and the protestors (us) to come together at their bookstore for a wonderful dialogue to build bridges is as unrealistic as when Michelle Obama got together with the big junk food corporations in her Let’s Move campaign to improve the health of our children.

For argument’s sake, let’s consider what could have happened if the book signing wasn’t cancelled and we were invited. First of all, why would I want to watch these clowns’ pathetic minstrel show of racist coded language as they play Mr. Thug and Ms. Thugette, in celebration of their dime-a-dozen cookbook, as they make fun of and stereotype my brothers while their mostly white fans join in the humor? It’s funny to them and their audience because they’re not the ones who fear that a police stop for a minor traffic violation could easily escalate to jail time, assault or death. They make fun of my brother, they make fun of me, and the very being of my black identity would not allow me to sit and become involved in self-negation. Then, during the “discussion” period, I’m supposed to voice my concerns under time constraints to an audience who are oblivious and indifferent to making the key connection that the mindset of the authors (and their fans) is no different from the mindset of the white vigilantes, law enforcement officers, district attorneys and judges who believe that black men and boys are a pariah, a problem to be dealt with, locked up or murdered. How can one deconstruct in a few sentences a mentality that believes, but will not vocalize, “Black men go to jail because they commit crimes, the police are just doing their jobs, black men call themselves thugs and act like thugs, so what’s the problem and what does this have to do with TK anyway?” Even if these questions were uttered, they could not have been addressed effectively in this space. Regardless, I suspect that the response to my voice would have been, “stop whining”.

There can be, and are, sincere spaces for debate and discussion about racism – racist coded language, cultural appropriation, terrorist attacks on black men by white men, and the erosion of families caused by police brutality and a biased and broken criminal justice system, but the book tour was not one of them. The purpose of our direct action was resistance. Our goal was to send the message that we would not tolerate their blackface theatrics, and that they are not welcome in our community. This was also about empowering ourselves through resistance. When one takes a stand to act in small ways (such as this protest) and in big ways (such as forming a community police watch) we are declaring our intolerance to racism.

Appropriating negative stereotypes of black people was just the vehicle. The fundamental problem, the driver behind the wheel, is the conscious and unconscious mindset that unfairly stereotypes and fears black people, particularly black men and boys, that cause people to act that is dangerous. This is why I protested TK.

Although this protest campaign included both vegans of color and white vegans, unfortunately, but not surprising, most of the pushback I observed overwhelmingly came from white vegans. If white ethical vegan activists continue to dismiss the importance of intersectionality and refuse to show solidarity with other social justice concerns, this movement will continue to be divided and its white privilege stigma, I believe, will continue to hinder progress.

Liz Ross is the co-founder of Cali Vegans of Color. She is an activist for both human and non-human animal rights.

[Editor’s note: I am happy to be able to host this piece by Liz Ross. Following the big reveal of the book, I was pleased to see many critical, intersectional vegans recognize that a vegan cookbook doesn’t get a pass on being oppressive. Here are some other black vegan/plant-based perspectives on Thug Kitchen

Culturally Appropriate Foodie Tuesday – A Rant About Thug Kitchen” by Ayinde Howell – 9/30/2014

On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen, and Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post]Race-Consciousness, Food Justice, and Hip Hop Vegan Ethics” by A. Breeze Harper (Sistah Vegan) – 10/9/2014

The problem with ‘thug’ cuisine” by Bryant Terry – 10/10/2014

‘Thug Racists’ and Coded Language” by Sensei Aishitemasu
*not sure whether this commentor is vegan, but an excellent analysis of how coded language is used to stand in for racial slurs
]

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reflections

Celebrating our Cultural Traditions: A Souper Tutorial

One of my passions is organizing vegans of color in the animal rights movement, and incorporating an intersectional analysis of racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia/classism/etc. into animal rights activism. It took me a number of years to understand myself as a person of color and to appreciate the importance of solidarity with other people of color. I am light skinned and also grew up in a community with a significant number of Asian-American families. I bought into the model minority myth. I lived primarily with my mom, spoke exclusively English, and to my understanding had a fairly assimilated upbringing. I didn’t understand myself as a racial “minority.”

Now, my mom, my sister Emma (who is also biracial), and I are all vegan and participate in animal rights activism. Over the last couple of years I’ve made a conscious effort to connect with other vegans of color (as well as queer and trans* people of color, but that’s another topic.) Intentionally elevating the voices of vegan POC is critically important. White vegans need to know that we are not going to tolerate racism in the movement, and omnivores from our communities of origin must be reassured that we don’t wish to abandon our cultural and familial traditions in being vegan. I see adapting our cherished traditions as an act of love and faithfulness, not betrayal. POC vegans speaking out helps to break up some of the largely monotonous white vegan noise. I like a vegan cheese pizza as much as the next guy, but vegan doesn’t have to mean colonized, commercially-produced foods. Our hotpot was made with simple, easily accessible, affordable ingredients (including four types of beautiful mushrooms!)

From left: my friend Amy, my partner Marc (also a tender genderqueer), and Deme (my hotpot cohost)

I’ve always thought that in Chinese culture, we have a very no-nonsense relationship with animals. When I was a child, I really liked to eat chicken feet for example. A chicken’s foot looks like nothing else but a foot. I think that there is a certain amount of cowardice in how many white Americans eat animals – heads and all other body parts detached, so that the flesh does not evoke a recently sentient, ambulatory critter. (Exception to this rule – hipster types personally slaughtering animals they raise in order to “get in touch” with their food. Still doesn’t make it better.)

Chinese and other Asian people are often targeted by white vegans (and white omnivores, for that matter) as more barbaric (“a subspecies” as Morrissey would say) for eating certain types of animals (e.g. dogs) that white Europeans/Americans are not accustomed to eating. And yet, the vegan population in China is the biggest in the world (>50 million, which is many times bigger than the vegan population in the U.S.) (Hear activist Wanqing Zhou talk more about vegan activism in China on Our Hen House.) Why is eating a pig, chicken, or cow so different from eating any other type of animal? Those critters are just as cuddly and smart as a dog or horse, but since we don’t keep them as companions it seems crueler. I’d like to see the mainstream animal rights movement addressing issues such as bear bile farming (a horrifically cruel practice, absolutely yes) without awful levels of racial targeting and generalizing.

Chinese hotpot is one of my favorite family traditions. It is a casual, social meal in the way that fondue or shabu-shabu is social, but is a much older tradition dating back hundreds of years. Our family would often eat it during the fall and winter holidays instead of a turkey or roast beef. And it’s a simple meal to prepare because the cooking is done at the table. If you are running chronically late (as I am, whoops) you can enlist your guests to help prepare some of the ingredients. Participation! This strategy also keeps the host from being trapped in the kitchen cooking during dinner parties, which seemed to happen to my mom a lot when I was growing up.

Finished soup!

Secret ingredients: shacha sauce, mushroom bouillon powder, and fried garlic. Look at the ingredients for the bouillon - you are sure to like it at yeast a little bit.

Secret ingredients: shacha sauce, mushroom bouillon powder, and fried garlic. Look at the ingredients for the bouillon – you are sure to like it at yeast a little bit.

HOW TO:
This is a format, not a recipe! This is what we did, but add whatever you fancy. You’ll want to get your ingredients and equipment from the Asian grocery store. We got everything from H Mart, a superstore in Aurora, which has an excellent selection.

Equipment
-Portable butane stove (can also use for camping; be sure to heat the broth over a stovetop to conserve butane. Open a window for proper ventilation!)
-Small mesh baskets (traditionally one per person but you can share)
-Soup bowls
-Tiny sauce bowls

Soup ingredients
-Vegetables for broth base (we used carrots, red peppers, onions, squash)
Vegetarian bouillon for a souper boost
-Bok choy
-Gai lan, or “Chinese broccoli”
-Mushrooms (we used enoki, shimeji, shiitake, and king oyster mushrooms)
**mushrooms are essential. You will find an excellent and cheap variety of mushrooms at the Asian market – stock up!
-Cubed firm tofu (cut to 3/4″ cubes)
-Noodles: bean thread or glass noodles, rice vermicelli noodles, udon noodles
-[vegetarian meat or fish balls – my family would usually pick up some of these but we didn’t and it was still great]

Garnishes 
-Chopped scallions
-Bean sprouts
-Finely minced ginger
-Cilantro (Deme’s addition!)

Sauces
Sriracha sauce
Hoisin sauce 
-Soy sauce
-Fried garlic oil (mince garlic finely and brown in vegetable oil)
-Vegetarian shacha sauce (BBQ sauce)

Dessert was red bean mochi, of course!

Marc and I – I’m quite proud of myself for successfully making hotpot without my family, and satisfying two white people and three omnivores!

Luckily, there are groups and communities available if one wants to start unlearning internalized racism and connect with other vegans of color.

Deconstructing Whiteness is a POC-led but white-inclusive anti-racist discussion group. It is not vegan or animal rights-focused.

Vegans of Color provides a space for ranting, discussing, organizing. White folks are asked to join other groups.

Anti-Racist Vegans (white and POC members included) addresses racism in the animal rights movement and organizes activism that does not target POC.

Animal Liberationists of Color seeks to examine why POC make up only 3% of animal rights activists but 37% of the population. They are closely tied to Direct Action Everywhere.

Our Hen House interviewed Wayne Hsiung, an outspoken Chinese activist and organizer for Direct Action Everywhere. Listen to the interview here or read the transcript here.

Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project – 多多 seeks to build strong relationships between animal-loving communities in the United States and animal advocates in Taiwan and mainland China through the provision of financial and other resources for on the ground projects. These projects include humane outreach and education, spaying and neutering, legislation and rehoming.

Animals Asia I have mixed feelings about, because it is white-led and occasionally problematic, but they do good work.

Individual authors and activists to follow include: A. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project, Kevin Tillman of the vegan hip hop movement, fellow Denverite DJ Cavem, lauren Ornelas of Food Empowerment Project and Vegan Mexican Food, Ayinde Howell of ieatgrass, cookbook author/chef/speaker bryant terry, and chef Miyoko Schinner.

Thanks for reading!

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community

On the Radio: An LGBTQ Intergenerational Mixtape

2in_cmyk_KGNU_PCI was recently a guest on KGNU’s Outsources, a weekly show focusing on LGBTQ issues and people in Denver and Boulder. My friend Sean Kenney hosted, and invited the three of us to each share a song that related to our queer identity, and to discuss sexual and gender identity and coming of age in different decades. The show was styled after the live intergenerational mixtapes assembled for the Warm Cookies of the Revolution, a “civic health club” in Denver. (As a side note, Warm Cookies manages to make topics as dry as taxes and housing policy engaging, and is definitely worth checking out.) I’m quite pleased with how the Outsources show turned out and hope you have a listen; it’s about half an hour long. Additionally, if you live in the Denver/Boulder area and think of an idea that would be great for a queer radio show, let me know and I’d be happy to get you in touch with the producers. I love reading, watching, and listening to queer-made media and like to do whatever I can to elevate queer and trans* voices and support us telling our own stories.

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reflections

So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.

Earlier today I was reading my sister’s college essay. She wanted to know what had written about eight years ago, so I looked through my email and found my own essay for Colorado College. I wrote it back in late 2006, before I became vegan, came out as queer or even realized I was nonbinary, became politicized as a person of color, and moved to beautiful Colorado which is now so near and dear to me. It’s pretty fun to think about the journeys we go on, and how we really have no idea where we will end up. (Though I’ll believe I’ll always be decidedly queer, vegan, a person of color, a bicyclist, a nerd…) So, here you go!

tockThe Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster affected me profoundly. I love children’s literature, and this story is a particularly delicious specimen. It opens in the most colorless possible way, describing the painful monotony of the protagonist’s existence. Milo, a child of ambiguous birthplace and age, represents every bored or uninspired person. He has every material want fulfilled — playthings of every variety clutter his room — but he is unsatisfied; his life has no joy, no purpose. He is not so much lost as completely directionless. I would not say that I see a caricature of myself in Milo; he and the characters he meets are too extreme, pure, and unfiltered to appear in the real world. Milo’s transformation, or epiphany, however, I see as completely honest, and analogous to my own. At some point along his enlightening journey, he realizes the value of a moment, the worth of one human life (his journey, in which he accomplishes so much and which stretches many weeks in his memory, takes only one hour in “real time.”) I’m not sure when I reached this same epiphany, but I know that it was sometime in my high school years. I realized that for me, experience and knowledge are more valuable than material goods, and that all I want to do is experience everything good and exciting and leave my mark of goodwill in the world, no matter how small. There are gems of wisdom scattered throughout the story, but one at the end strikes me as particularly true and potent: as Milo celebrates the end of his quest in the Kingdom of Wisdom, the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason tell him a secret about his task: it was impossible. Only after he is finished can he know this, for if they had “told you then [before you had started], you might not have gone – and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

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reflections

Spread the Word: Latina* Vegan Anthology from Lantern Books!

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 kara@lanternbooks.com.

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. 
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