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Many people care about animals and yet participate in a system which causes them great suffering and ultimately death. Some people (e.g., vegans) adopt a lifestyle which eliminates this tension between caring and killing. In this talk, I will examine the psychological processes at work in sustaining omnivores harmful lifestyles and the barriers that stop them from moving towards veganism. Specifically, I will focus on the role of the Meat Paradox and cognitive dissonance at an individual and a cultural level. I will then turn to examine the psychology underlying veganism; why do people adopt a vegan lifestyle, what factors sustain and threaten their identity as vegans.
Dr. Steve Loughnan
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, The University of EdinburghWrite something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
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In 2014 the documentary film “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” exposed the linkages between the animal agriculture industry and greenhouse gas emissions. The film contributed to raise awareness on the need for behavioral changes of the population to reduce meat consumption in order to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of climate change. However, Cowspiracy received several criticisms due to its use of unreliable data and statistics. In this respect, it has been argued that the documentary presents an overly biased view on the topic that does more harm than help. The aim of this article is to analyze the linkages between livestock and greenhouse gas emissions by deconstructing the main statistics presented by the documentary film and analyzing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and other reports with scientific data on those linkages.
The article first reviews the concept of climate change and its causes according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the IPCC reports. It then examines how IPCC reports address the contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions. As presented in the IPCC reports, the analysis will focus on livestock as a category of land use. After this analysis, the article identifies the main statistics and sources presented by the documentary film Cowspiracy on the influence of livestock in greenhouse gas emissions, and the arguments to encourage a plant-based diet. The article confronts the data provided by the documentary film with the scientific data released by the IPCC reports and concludes with an analysis on the influence of dietary choices in greenhouse gas emissions as well as other measures that have being identified to decrease such emissions.
The article reveals how the IPCC reports have refined their approach to the analysis of the contribution of livestock to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions, and argues that such differentiated approach may contribute to create more awareness on those linkages.
1. Sara Pabian et al, Ninety Minutes to Reduce One's Intention to Eat Meat: A Preliminary Experimental Investigation on the Effect of Watching the Cowspiracy Documentary on Intention to Reduce Meat Consumption Front. Commun. 5:69. 2020. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2020.00069
2. Nicholas Blundell, A Critique of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret Food. In Nicholas Blundell et al, Food, Fiber, and Fashion Quarterly. https://iu.pressbooks.pub/foodfiberfashionfa19/chapter/a-critique-of-cowspiracy-the-sustainability-secret/
Universidad Externado de Colombia
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The Limits of the Unthinkable: On Human Slavery as an Analogy to the Exploitation ofNonhuman Animals
In animal rights discourse, especially in abolitionist veganism, human slavery is often evoked as
an analogy to the conditions nonhuman animals are experiencing today. Emphasizing the
similarities between the two systems of oppression, that of animal exploitation and human
slavery, this analogy emphasizes the arbitrary exclusion of certain beings from mattering and
their absolute inclusion into the productivity regimes as objects. This analogy makes a hopeful
call for a future when animal exploitation will be a thing of the past, just as human slavery has
become unimaginable over the last century.
Recent analyses on race and animality in humanities and social sciences, however, criticize this
analogy for its temporal and ethical assumptions. In these analyses, this analogy overlooks the
continuing legacy of the chattel slavery that still marks blackness as "de-personhood" (Jackson
2020). The analogy also instrumentalizes the suffering of human beings and uses it as a
measuring stick for the suffering of animals. This perpetuates the subordinate existence of both
categories, rather than building connections between the systems of oppression to turn those
connections into defiance (Boisseron 2018).
This paper dwells on the concept of the “unthinkable” developed by Bourdieu (1971; 1980;
1982) and popularized by Trouillot (1995) in order to question the limits of the analogy to human
slavery for animal exploitation today. The paper outlines the arguments developed by critical
race scholars against the use of slavery as an analogy and builds upon them by showing how this
analogy confines the political imaginary to the limits of the thinkable - the official
representations of the events and relations that maintain the social order and institutes the terms
of relations in the social world. It shows that the terminologies of the thinkable come with
political baggage that is hard to reckon with. The use of slavery as an analogy limits the political
imaginary, and confines not only what is thinkable, but also what is doable to the limits set by
the official histories. The paper calls for reflecting on the unthinkable as a conceptual tool in
order to speculate on the possibility of (fleeting) enactments of the unthinkable, not necessarily
only in a future to come, but today, within the universe of the thinkables.
Zeynep Gizem Haspolat
Rice University, TX, USA
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Despite the increased availability of plant-based products, a large group of consumers
eats meat and dairy every day, unaware of the impact on environment and health.
Increasing awareness is important, but ineffective without procedural knowledge (such
as recipes) on how to change this diet. Furthermore, the global challenge to provide
sustainable food security to a growing population cannot be tackled by a focus on
consumers who are already transitioning to a plant-based diet. This project targets the
heaviest meat-eaters and tests the most effective way to make them part of the solution.
Despite the evident benefits, many people do not even consider changing to a plant-
based diet and meat, dairy and egg consumption continues to increase worldwide.
These consumers likely ignore information as it does not align with their beliefs.
We will obtain insights into the origins of resistance towards a plant-based diet using in-
depth interviews and text mining of blogs, pod casts and internet forums. We will gather
podcast transcripts, reviews and remarks about meat versus plant-based diets posed on
fora such as Quora through web scraping. This way, we will create a database of texts
(i.e. referred to as documents) in which the underlying resistance towards a plant-based
diet is discussed openly.
First, we will identify the topics being discussed repeatedly across the collected
documents using an unsupervised machine learning model such as Latent Dirichlet
Allocation (Blei et al., 2003). LDA allows us to gather topics that are mentioned in
multiple documents. Next, using advanced natural language processing models, such
as BERT (Devlin et al., 2018), and recent advances such as GoEmotions (Demszky et
al., 2021) we will attempt to discover the emotions underlying a resistance towards a
plant-based diet. Finally, we will survey the general population to examine the interplay
of current diet, emotions and arguments for underlying resistance to transition to a
plant-based diet. We will apply a novel method that we recently developed to measure
actual environmental impacts of current diet (Morren et al., 2021). This method is
suitable for internet-based surveys in the general population.
Our research aims to explain why certain people resist a plant-based diet. As meat-
eaters are responsible for a large share of environmental impacts, there is a lot to be
gained. We will deliver specific recommendations to policy makers about the most
promising type of message to encourage heavy meat-eaters to transition to a plant-
Jantsje M. Mol and Meike H. Morren
(Center for Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making (CREED) University of Amsterdam) and (School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
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Nutritional Transition as Dietary Dispositif : An Inquiry on the Advent of Meat-Based Diet in the Nineteenth-Century West.
In the nineteenth and early-twentieth century, traditional diets, based mainly on starchy staples,
underwent a fast revolution revolving around meat, especially red meat. The growing importance of
meat and its increased production and consumption marked what is today known as the nutritional
transition in Western Europe and in North America and Australia. Meat was considered the food of
the progress, «the food of the future», as contemporaries said. But what produced this transition?
And, most of all, what so special about meat?
In the literature, such transition is rightly related to the economic and social changes brought by
the industrial revolution: population growth, urbanization, increasing productivity of agriculture…
However, this descriptive account naturalizes the transition as a direct outcome of these factors,
drawing a straight line between “more people” and “more meat”. It does not explain why exactly
meat was to have this role, that is, what was the structural dynamics related to capitalist society that
brought to the reorganization of meat production and consumption, to the commodification of meat.
In my paper, I address these questions drawing on a Marxian-Foucauldian hybrid approach. My
claim is that the nutrition transition is best understood in terms of what I call dietary dispositif, i.e.
the network of institutions and mixed practices, authorized by correlated scientific knowledges,
with subjectivation effects that makes it possible the exploitation of nonhuman animals for human
feeding. Its most distinctive elements are centralized slaughterhouses and intensive farming. Other
knots of the network are the state with its government regulation and public health reforms, the
market, family, zootechnical practices, culinary practices together with the practices connected to
nutrition science and dietetics; and on the side of individuals, related practices of responsible self-
regulation through consumer choices.
First, I will analyze the context of the formation of this dispositif, thus answering the task of
connecting the advent of meat-based diet to structural characteristics of the capitalist social
formation. Then, I will focus on a major knowledge involved in the dispositif and its role in
underpinning the dietary change, i.e. the emergence of nutrition science in the mid-nineteenth
century and the consequent process of «nutritionalisation of modern food system» (Dixon 2009),
which was based at the time on the role of protein as the “master nutrient”. The idea of nutrition
transition that we speak of today is itself a product of this process. As my perspective will make
clear, the meat-based diet transition is an outcome of a specific trajectory, involving different
elements within specific sets of power-knowledge relations and not at all a neutral and natural
outcome of “more people demanding more meat”.
(Transcultural Studies in Humanities, University of Bergamo)
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In this moment, millions of animals are being held under terrifying conditions in factory
farming. Moreover, wildlife is dying in Australia because of bushfires linked to
(anthropogenic) climate change.
Considering that these are only two of the numerous examples of misery non-human animals
have to face in the Anthropocene, it is not an accident that the debate about animal ethics has
gained much attention in the last decades and years. Two key concepts in animal ethics are
moral standing and moral status. If an entity has moral standing, it counts morally and can be
wronged. For example, most people would say that a cat has moral standing. Just think of a
cat being kicked for fun. In such a case, the cat is obviously wronged. A moral status is then a
property had by entities that have moral standing. As understood in this paper, the moral
status of an entity consists of the set of features that govern how we ought to treat those
One crucial question when it comes to both of these two concepts is in favour of what they
are had. Answers in animal ethics include mostly either capacities like sentience or as human
specific interpreted capacities like intelligence and creativity. However, when one looks
beyond analytical philosophical writings, one finds another valid candidate for grounding
moral standing and moral status of entities: vulnerability. Often, vulnerability is understood
as a solely negative property of being exposed to threatening influences like terror and
discrimination. However, this is not the sense of vulnerability I will draw on. The sense I will
draw on is a Butlerian one. Understood that way, vulnerability is an ontological feature of
entities that denotes openness to the external world. Also, vulnerability in this sense is a
gradual phenomenon as openness to the external world comes on a continuum.
I will argue that vulnerability in this sense can operate as an appropriate marker for both
moral status and moral standing. Any appearance of vulnerability in an entity ascribes moral
standing to that entity and the moral status is then defined by the specific kind in which
vulnerability is had by that entity.
Moreover, I will argue that this account supports a vegan lifestyle. As a baseline level of
vulnerability accounts for moral standing, and the most basic feature of a moral status is that
an entity is not to be deprived of its openness to the external world, practices which exploit
animals are prohibited on that account. For example, as keeping chicken in a cage deprives
them of exploring in their environment, this act is prohibited on the proposed account.
In the last section, I will suggest that the proposed account can deal better with problems than
its prominent alternatives such as the appeal to sentience as it leaves room for moral claims of
animals which, according to today’s scientific knowledge, do not feel harm, such as several
(Department of Philosophy, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz)
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Irreplaceability of nonhuman animals is a fundamental concern in the field of Animal Studies: The
acknowledgement of the “unquantifiable importance of one” (Pachirat 2018: 349). In this view, nonhuman animals are not considered as collectives, but as irreplaceable singularities. Emphasis is put on the attention towards heterogenic others, particular contexts and multispecies relationships. (e. g., Gruen 2018, King 2017, Safina 2015).
The irreplaceability view, however, is easily confused with other concepts of individuality. In academic and public discourse, concepts of animal individuality are often only circumscribing and thus open for various interpretations. So called moral individualism, e. g., has been a battlefield in Animal Ethics for many years. Reasons for this are, among other, controversial terms like «subject-of-a-life» (Regan 1983) or the narrow focus on animals as bearers of biological features and generalized capacities.
I will argue that the field of Animal Studies calls for a more elaborate term of irreplaceability. My
suggestion is to strengthen the term animal singularity as an important epistemological tool. Taking cue from the philosophical discussion about hermeneutic injustice – a form of epistemic injustice – (Fricker 2007), I will argue that the term of animal individuality often disguises the inherent value and relational significance of nonhuman animals. Hermeneutic injustice concerns the lack of adequate epistemological resources to describe the experiences of marginalized subjects. Without a term for sexual harassment, it went unseen for a long time. (Ibid. 147f.) I will argue that the term animal singularity can shed light on the misrepresentation of human-animal experiences and make sense of a nonhuman animal’s value as irreplaceable other.
In the second part of my paper, I will introduce four criteria for animal singularity: irreplaceability,
acknowledgement of subjectivity, situatedness and relationality. By further exemplifying singularity with reference to an actual case, I avoid a rigid definition, and suggest a contextually sensitive term instead. The rooster Victor, as known from the founding narrative of VINE sanctuary, will stand as exemplar for a singular animal that is recognized in relationship with human others. (jones 2020)
(Center for the Theory and History of Images, University of Basel)
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As “the meat paradox” has manifested, many express love and care toward other animals whilst consuming animal products. Indeed, many identify as “animal lovers”, whilst participating in practices that harm the objects of their love. This epitomizes what I call “the love paradox” – a phenomenon, wherein one destroys one’s beloved. This contradiction between love and destruction requires that we pay attention to what we mean by “love”. What is “love of animals”? In my talk, I introduce different philosophical takes on love and explore their moral consequences in the context of animal and environmental ethics. I also investigate the political and cultural underpinnings of love, and explore how they influence love's scope and content (often in anthropocentric ways). The underlying thesis is that talk of love faces the risks of overt sentimentalism, paradoxes and superficiality, but that when approached comprehensively, love can be a radical political affect, capable of motiving also vegan worldviews and the shared flourishing of species.
(Department of Philosophy, Contemporary History and Political Science, University of Turku)
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Practical identity is a description given to someone about their way of acting in the
world. It’s “a description under which you value yourself and find your life worth living
and your actions to be worth undertaking” (Korsgaard, C. The Sources of Normativity, p.
101). Often, our practical identities make claims on our actions. One who finds oneself under
the vegan practical identity must, for example, avoid actions that imply animal exploitation.
Similarly, someonewhose environmental protection is incorporated into their practical identity
must refrain from contributing to the environment’s degradation. The increasing demand
for environmental-friendly practices as well as the growing awareness on animal exploitation
have recently turned the so-called green initiatives into forms of easy profit. Certain
marketing strategies involve the process of generating disinformation in order to make an
audience believe that a product, service or company is more ethically committed than it actually
is. Those strategies appeal to people's ideas on their own practical identities - not just
as customers, but to their identities in a broad sense. As a result, those identities are used for
shady purposes often conflating with people’s choices behind those identities’ adoption. Examples
are people who understand veganism or environmental protection as part of their practical
identities and yet engage qua consumers in animal oppression or environmental degradation.
The aim of my analysis is to discuss how deception occurs in such cases and what are
the element involved. I will argue there are two frequently related factors on which deception
in engaging in green initiatives depends. The first is on who produces the message: the
promotion of alleged green labels is a discursive resource that implies intentionality in
deceiving an audience. The second, in turn, concerns the rationality adopted by those
who choose to engage with such narratives. Focusing in the last one, I will analyze the
relationship between practical identity and the phenomenon of deception. From a
philosophical perspective, I will argue that practical identity, although central to human
interactions, can in some cases render itself immoral and counterproductive regarding
the reasons one adopted it in the first place.
Maria Eugênia Zanchet
(Faculty of Cultural Studies, Universität Bayreuth)
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And Then We’ll Come from the Shadows: On the Potential but Debateable Merit of an AgonisticAccount of Veganism.
In a paper to the U.K. parliament in 2015 the then Prime Minister David Cameron described Islamist
extremism as a poisonous ideology, and the fight against it as ‘one of the great fights of our
generation’.i In the same paper the then Home Secretary (and subsequent Prime Minister) Theresa
May outlined the importance of resisting not just violent but non-violent extremism, saying that the
Government will ‘systematically confront and challenge extremist ideology, exposing it for the lie it
is’.ii Extremism was characterised in the paper as:
‘the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.’ iii
It is not uncommon for disobedient but non-violent animal rights and environmental activist groups
to be described as extremists, even terrorists. More recently in the U.K. the environmental protest
group Extinction Rebellion (XR) were included by some police forces in guidelines on countering
extremismiv, and while the current U.K. Home Secretary clarified that XR are a protest group rather
than extremists she defended the need to include them in the monitoring of ‘a range of security risks’v.
In truth, there is a substantial gap between the non-violent but sometimes illegal protests of XR and
what can more feasibly be described as extremist ideology. This paper, however, will argue that a
deliberative conception of western democracy and of its political ontologies, epistemology and
norms cannot but react to holistic environmentalism and vegan activism by categorising them as
extremist. In contrast, the paper will examine the potential merits of an agonistic account of such
activism, including the role of disobedience and violence to related ends. Accounts such as those of
Habermas and Rawls will be contrasted with more recent work by Mouffe, Oksala and Roy, alongside
lessons drawn from the radicalisation of elements of past student movements (from the civil rights
movements of the U.S.A and Northern Ireland in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and from the civil
war between the Tamil and Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009). While this agonistic
account of veganism and holistic environmentalism will offer a different rationale for disobedience
than that primed by deliberative accounts, and will separate it more clearly from extremism
(properly understood), it will also distinguish non-extremist disobedience from the sort of violent
activism that might more legitimately be regarded as extremism or terrorism.
(Faculty of Business, Law and Politics, University of Hull)
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People seem to care about animals to a certain extent. That is, some people care
about some animals, at least sometimes, to some degree. The “big challenge” is to build on the
small extent to which people do care about animals in order to improve significantly animal
welfare in our societies. Besides, strong opposing economic and political forces limit the use of
market, fiscal or legal instruments in favor of animals. In this lecture, I will present some recent
work in behavioral economics, i.e., work carried out at the interface of economics and other
behavioral sciences. This work may help address the big challenge by better understanding
people choices (e.g., dietary habits, donations or voting), and in turn by nudging them toward
more animal-friendly choices.
(Toulouse School of Economics and INRAE, University Toulouse Capitole)
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The consumption of animal products poses social justice problems on a global scale: making
animal products available to the middle-class increases food insecurity for the most
vulnerable populations. In light of this, the proposed contribution explores the potential of
cross-pollination between veganism and food sovereignty. It argues that together, these
notions can inform pending shifts in food policies.
Like veganism, the notion of food sovereignty is emblematic of a radical paradigm shift in our
food systems. It represents the idea that communities are entitled to choose which food
systems they depend on. The notion first emerged in the 1990s as small scale farmers
response to the liberalization of trade in agricultural products. Since then it has gradually been
taken on board by other civil society movements, and ultimately by governments and even the
United Nations. References to food sovereignty are now enshrined in the constitutions of
several countries, such as Venezuela and Senegal, as well as in a 2018 UN Declaration on the
rights of peasants. 1 Thus, food sovereignty exemplifies a successful bottom-up approach to
Today, the notion of food sovereignty is invoked by a variety of movements who claim a right
to certain diets. While it has been employed to further sustainable, environmentally friendly
and healthy diets, its link to veganism remains unexplored. This is unfortunate, as there exist a
number of overlaps between food sovereignty and veganism.
A vegan diet can be promoted under the umbrella of food sovereignty alongside sustainable
and healthy diets. ‘Farm to fork’ strategies offer a new and promising arena for veganism.
Moreover, food sovereignty has a procedural aspect that advocates for the democratization of
food systems. This is a pertinent issue for the vegan movement. While a growing number of
consumers in Europe move away from animal products and towards vegan alternatives,
agriculture policies continue to favor animal products, rendering alternatives economically
unattractive for consumers. But more importantly, food sovereignty is closely linked to food
security and the human right to food. These concepts are widely endorsed but far from
realized. It is estimated that 842 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. 2 Shifting
towards a vegan diet would be essential to remedying this situation: according to the FAO
‘livestock production’ accounts for approx. 70 percent of all agricultural land on the planet. 3
Large proportions of this land are located in the Global South, where resources are lacking for
local, small-scale agriculture. This is one pillar of the existing agriculture policy that food
sovereignty seeks to change. Further, the right to food can be understood as a right to
adequate nourishment. It has been argued that industrialized animal farming makes healthy
food unavailable to the underprivileged and result in ‘food discrimination’ 4 or ‘food
oppression.’ 5 Against this backdrop, the contribution argues that cross-pollination between the
notions of food sovereignty and veganism should be explored.
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In this paper I wish to examine the ethical tenability of the following assumption: it is morally
certain that it is wrong to kill and eat other animals for food. This certainty is subsumed under
the term ‘veganism’ as discussed in animal ethics. Although there are reasons to refrain from
eating meat by some precautionary principles—that it is not certain that eating meat is
morally wrong but it is neither certain that eating meat is morally permissible (Cojocaru
2018)—, and recent publications in animal ethics doubt the universal wrongness of eating
meat (Fischer 2020), there are arguments that veganism is not based on a free choice made by
the agent. Rather, veganism is due to a transformation process of what animals are in the
agent, a shift from edible to non-edible, and by this it becomes impossible to eat other animals
(Panizza 2020). Following this latter thought, veganism seems to be morally certain.
Wittgensteinian moral philosophy explores moral certainties. Pleasants, for example,
states that the “badness of death”, the “wrongness of killing”, and the “wrongness of
unwarranted infliction of pain and other forms of suffering” (2015: 199-200) are basic moral
certainties when it comes to human beings. These certainties lie at the bottom of every moral
thought and action, and hence they structure how people think and act. Thus, basic moral
certainties are “immune to justification, challenge and doubt, and hence cannot be objects of
first-personal knowledge” (Pleasants 2015: 197). Someone who doubts that valuing life is not
morally certain, can be perceived as someone who is outside the moral community (Hermann
Can these basic moral certainties be extended to other animals? I will argue that the
basic moral certainty of the “wrongness of unwarranted infliction of pain and other forms of
suffering” applies to the animal sphere as well, while Pleasants’ other two certainties are not
applicable. What is morally certain “is something which nothing imaginable would speak
against” (Johnson 2019: 213), and while it seems beyond imagination to eat fellow human
beings (Diamond 1978), people engage in concepts of ‘happy meat’ and ‘animal friendly
animal husbandry’ that still result in killing and eating other animals. And although there is
philosophical and empirical evidence that animals have a concept of death (Monsó & Osuna-
Mascaró 2020), it is still disputed whether death is bad for an animal, or at least for certain
kinds of animals (e.g. Solis 2020). Nevertheless, I will conclude that the basic moral certainty
of the “wrongness of unwarranted infliction of pain and other forms of suffering” suffices to render veganism a moral ought, and that the burden of proof is on the side of those who wish
to criticize veganism and its implications.
Konstantin Deininger et. al.
(School of Philosophy, Munich University)
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Breaking The Glass Wall: Images of Violence Against Animals, Humane Meat, and the “Repressive Hypothesis”.
Many examples of advocacy for animals is based on the idea expressed in
the saying: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian". In
contrast, this paper argues that many humans actively enjoy and seek out an
example of animal suffering and death. For example, many "local" "free-range" and
"D.I.Y. slaughter" farmers write in great detail about how much they enjoy actively
killing animals. Likewise, many hunters (including “safari” hunters) self-recorded
the pleasure they had in personally killing animals. People who engage in animal
fights, such as dog fighting, suggest that watching animal suffering can serve as a
source of pleasure for humans who watch these contests for amusement. I,
therefore, argue that there is a connection between the “repressive hypothesis” as
described by Michel Foucault in his text the History of Sexuality and our current
discussion about violence towards animals. Much as Foucault argues in his
discussion of sexuality, asserting people derive pleasure in discussing sexual acts
they claimed to disdain, I believe that many texts and memories that purportedly
condemn acts of violence against animals, in fact, provoke pleasure both in the
people writing and in those reading the representations of violence. I argue that
academics and activists might be more effective in employing Carol Adams’s idea of
the “absent referent”— connecting a dead corpse to a living animal—to help reveal
the ethical stakes in humans’ ongoing violence against animals.
(Department of Communication Studies & Theatre, Mercer University)
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Veganism in the U.S. has become a contested space because of its exclusion of people of color. In
addition, it has been noted that mainstream veganism is not attentive to how oppressions are
intersecting. In concert with Carol J. Adam’s 1990 theoretical text, The Sexual Politics of Meat, which
theorized the ways meat production and consumption is integral to patriarchal domination, A.
Breeze Harper contributes an analysis of racism in mainstream veganism and has since continued
to investigate relationships between Blackness and veganism, illustrating how racism is also
integral to these politics. These critiques have provided a foundation for further thinking about
intersecting oppressions that the vegan movement should be addressing.
In a Mexican American context, a proliferation of writers and activists produced cookbooks,
scholarly texts, and cultural works that demonstrated how Mexican Americans have long been
consumers of a mostly plant-based diet. They began (re)claiming their ancestral foods and
highlighting its nutritional and medicinal value. The arrival of Luz Calvo’s and Catriona Rueda
Esquibel’s cookbook Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and
Healing embodies this moment. Another person who exemplifies this is Antonio Elias Lopez from El
Antonio Elias Lopez is a self-identified (vegan) Chicano cocinero. Lopez’s food history and
philosophy contributes to people of color’s critiques of mainstream veganism. In addition, his
history highlights the spatial dimension of intersecting oppressions as he stresses the importance
of barrios as sustainable environments. In other words, Lopez expands the concept of veganism to
include the rights and health of those who live in the barrio. Through his food practices, he
advocates for the barrio, exclaiming that everything one may need can be found there. The barrio is
a sustainable environment that can nourish its communities.
In this presentation, by focusing on Lopez’s food history, I explore following central
questions: Did the rise of Mexican vegan cuisine ignore or embrace the plant-based roots of
Mexican food and foodways? In terms of space and spatial justice, is mainstream veganism an agent
in gentrifying the barrios Lopez lives and works in? If so, are Lopez’s practices a form of resistance
and spatial justice? How? How do Lopez’s actions as well as those who live in this environment
contest mainstream notions of nutrition and food deserts?
To explore these questions I first map the conflicts between mainstream veganism and
vegans of color, particularly Mexican Americans. Specifically, I follow Lopez’s development as a
cook and of his evolving philosophy on food which is invested in remembering ancestral foods and
foodways. Second, I examine how Lopez transforms mainstream notions of veganism through
Priscilla Ybarra Solis’s concept of the goodlife. Ybarra defines the goodlife as a philosophy that
“embraces the values of simplicity, sustenance, dignity, and respect…the values…implicitly
integrate the natural environment as part of the community” and centers “the value of care to
replace destructive possession.” 1 Through the goodlife, I bridge together critical vegan studies with
decolonial perspectives on Mexican-origin foods by offering a way to interpret Lopez’s Mexican
veganism as goodlife practices.
(Department of History, University of North Texas)
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Vegans are often subjected to ridicule in Global North cultures. But, as I will trace in my paper,
they have managed this status quo by satirizing non- vegan culture in return—and by
occasionally engaging in self-satire, often as a means of preempting such potential ridicule.
My paper will consist of three parts. In the first, I attempt to identify the (perceived) qualities
that open vegans up to ridicule to begin with—including lack of self-awareness,
fundamentalist identitarianism, and smug moralizing. I then turn to a set of recent para-literary vegan texts, including cookbooks (ex. Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food, 2018), comics (Richard Watt’s Vegan Sideick, 2013-), and stand-up comedy performances (ex. Simon Amstell’s Do Nothing, 2010).
I employ literary and rhetorical analyses to assess the potential benefits of these texts’ deployments of vegan satire. I also note their occasional failures, such as the lack of intersectional thinking.
In the last section of my paper, I will turn to a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead (2009, translated into English in 2018).
This novel both engages in satire and offers philosophical reflection on that mode from a distinctly
feminist perspective. As I will explain, Tokarczuk’s protagonist worries that modes such as satire, along with humor and irony, are patriarchal in nature insofar as they effect a cold, rational distancing that disdains emotion. At the same time, Drive Your Plow features a fundamentally ironic and darkly
comic plot—one in which the protagonist literally gets away with (human) murder amidst her objects to (animal) killing. I conclude by suggesting that Drive Your Plow models a kind of “warm irony” that might circumvent the pitfalls described above.
(California State University, Fullerton)
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Social movements have driven large shifts in public attitudes and values, from anti-slavery
to marriage equality. A central component of these movements is moral persuasion. We conduct
a randomized-controlled trial of pro-vegan animal-welfare pamphlets at a college campus. We
observe the effect on meat consumption using an individual-level panel data set of approximately
200,000 meals. Our baseline regression results, spanning two academic years, indicate that the
pamphlet had no statistically significant long-term aggregate effects. However, as we disag-
gregate by gender and time, we find small statistically significant effects within the semester
of the intervention: a 2.4 percentage-point reduction in poultry and fish for men and a 1.6
percentage-point reduction in beef for women. The effects disappear after two months. We
merge food purchase data with survey responses to examine mechanisms. Those participants
who (i) self-identified as vegetarian, (ii) reported thinking more about the treatment of animals
or (iii) expressed a willingness to make big lifestyle changes reduced meat consumption during
the semester of the intervention. Though we find significant effects on some subsamples in the
short term, we can reject all but small treatment effects in the aggregate.
Joshua Tasoff (along with Menbere Haile, Andrew Jalil, and Arturo Vargas Bustamante)
(Claremont Graduate University)
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D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) lived in a cultural environment of modernism which included
much orthorexic, pacifist, Christian, spiritualist and/or zoophile vegetarianism – yet he never
so much as experimented with vegetarianism. During the mid-1920s, when he lived on a
ranch in New Mexico, he kept chickens and a cow. He beheaded a broody chicken, shot a
porcupine, and severely beat a pet dog, whilst in states of rage.
And yet, amongst British modernist writers, he has perhaps the strongest claim to be
considered a proto-vegan. My paper will consider the reasons for this judgment, and how the
conflicts between those elements of him that may be considered proto-vegan, and those that
are sometimes unthinkingly, sometimes consciously and deliberately, carnist, are manifested.
Lawrence is not only becoming a major focus of ecocritical studies (witness the title of the
2019 annual University of Nanterre International D.H. Lawrence Conference: ‘Lawrence and
the Anticipation of the Ecocritical Turn’), but has long been at the forefront of animal studies
in the field of modernist literature – witness Margot Norris’s Beasts of the Modern
Imagination: Darwin, Nietzsche, Kafka, Ernst, and Lawrence (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1985) and Carrie Rohman’s Stalking the Subject: Modernism and the
Animal (Columbia University Press, 2009) and Choreographies of the Living: Bioaesthetics
in Literature, Art, and Performance (Oxford University Press, 2018). However, there is as
yet no article, as far as I am aware, on Lawrence as anticipating veganism, and written from
an explicitly vegan perspective. This paper will exhibit my work in progress towards such an
The elements that I will be focusing on as proto-vegan include: Lawrence’s attention and
empathetic leaps towards animal subjectivity; his consciousness of the limits of human
comprehension of animals, and critiques of anthropomorphism; his conception of a flat
ontology of all ‘living’ beings (including plants and certain inorganic objects); his conception
of a hierarchy in which individuals are exalted by the vividness of their being, not the
category of being to which they belong; his sympathy for suffering animals (for example a
dog with its nose full of porcupine quills); his revulsion from spectacular animal cruelty (for
example the bullfight at the opening of The Plumed Serpent); his rejection of supposedly-
masculine displays of control over animals such as bull-fighting or bird hunting as in fact
effeminate; his hostility to the intermingling of the organic with the mechanical (he died soon before the take-off period for factory farming, but would certainly have condemned it); his
condemnation of the sense of entitlement of humans who live unthinkingly at animals’
expense; his attraction towards vegetarian food as something ‘clean’; and his imaginative
construction of a future utopia (in ‘Autobiographical Fragment’) where humans walk around
naked, live in peace, and are vegetarians.
Lawrence is a notoriously self-contradictory writer. Contrasting attitudes towards animals
sometimes manifest themselves cleanly between different works; but very often they are
found within the same work, and by analysing the places of interface between these attitudes
a light may be shed on analogous states of conflict that exist within many sensitive and
thoughtful non-vegans today. Strategies for addressing and helping to resolve such states of
conflict may therefore be suggested.
(New College of the Humanities at Northeastern, London)
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In contemporary debates around animals, it is generally accepted that transitioning towards a
plant-based diet is both an ethical and environmental choice that also has the potential to
reduce animal suffering. However, minority practices are often highlighted for their practices
as cruel for their foreign practices that are not humane. As Kymlicka and Donaldson (2014)
have pointed out there is a serious concern that this may aggravate prejudices against select
communities by reproducing existing power relations through “performing whiteness”. The
general targeting of a cruel minority for its inhuman practices and the adoption of a vegan
lifestyle can appear to legitimatize group and racial privileges. In this context, my
presentation focuses on such minority practices in India such as beef-eating that is posited as
an act of political subversion against the Hindu fundamentalist state and the dominant
nationalist identity (Sathyamala, 2018). Vegetarianism is seen as morally superior because of
its association with the upper caste structure. How can we renegotiate the ideals of a
multicultural zoopolis that does not inflict animal harm in a multicultural society which is
organized by caste? Considering the caste violence that is embodied in the upper caste
hegemony, eating meat is an act of political transgression and resistance. What kind of
intersectionality can emerge in this double bind? In giving full ethical otherhood to
nonhuman animals, what can entail vegetarianism in such a fractious, multicultural society? I
explore some of these complications through Derrida’s ‘performative anthropocentrism’ and
remarks on vegetarianism that seemed to uphold the distinction between human and animal in
its ethical project.
(Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi)
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This talk will offer a reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, attending
to the text’s preoccupation with both consumption and the living, and to the multiple
animal encounters that trouble our assumptions about what it means to eat and what is
meant for eating. Living things in Wonderland—Alice included—are sometimes ‘who’,
sometimes ‘it’. They are also sometimes food (potential or otherwise), and sometimes
friends. Most (but not all) have the power of speech. Some are fabulous and chimaerical,
others seem ‘normal’—if such a word can retain its sense in Wonderland. Some have
human faces, yet are less than humane (the Duchess and her cook, for example), while
some nonhuman animals seem to fulfil criteria we often reserve for the human (talking,
walking on two legs, wearing clothes, delivering letters, having tea parties, etc.). The
effect of all of this is a deconstruction of any rigorous distinction between human beings
and other animals, and by reading Alice’s socio-gustatory encounters, I will explore why
exactly, as the Red Queen tells Alice, ‘it isn’t etiquette to cut any one you’ve been
(Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich; Harvard University Center for the Environment)
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Their Bodies, Our “Choice”?: Toward an Ecofeminist, Anti-Capitalist Envisioning of a VeganParadigm Shift.
Many have celebrated the recent consumer mainstreaming of plant-based food and “vegan” identities as a sign of an imminent paradigm shift away from the exploitation of nonhuman animals. While the
availability of foods not derived from nonhuman animals is undoubtedly a key pragmatic component of such a shift, this presentation will argue that those committed to animal liberation—which is the key defining content of veganism—should remain skeptical of the consumer mainstreaming of vegan diets and identities. Because this mainstreaming of plant-based lifestyles is often framed as a matter of “personal choice” rather than an obligatory ethical response to the systemic injustice inherent in human use of other animals, it is easily coopted into a broader neoliberal ideology that has, in the past, watered down and to some degree derailed other social justice movements such as labor rights and, most relevantly for this presentation, feminism.
Neoliberalism denotes the dominant, contemporary form of global capitalism based in market fundamentalism and the privileging of corporate rights over the public good. Beyond espousing so-called “free trade” and the upward redistribution of wealth, neoliberalism has also become a prescription for ordering social relations and the lives of individuals. It tends to popularize a rhetoric of “choice” that backgrounds structural issues while emphasizing individual “personal responsibility,” that leaving out discussions of power inequities and histories of oppression.
This presentation will provide a brief discussion of the ongoing neoliberalization of feminism and what I see as the emerging neoliberal slant in representations of both veganism and the fad of “alternative” animal agriculture, in which individuals (many of them women) enjoy personally exploiting nonhumans for food and other purposes. Using advertisements and news items from mainstream corporate media, the presentation will show how a similar rhetoric of “personal choice” on the part of the dominant group, and supposed agency or consent on the part of the oppressed, undergirds cultural representations of both nonhumans and humans. This elides the structural power imbalances that perpetuate violence against the victimized groups.
As an antidote to this trend, and in the service of actualizing a radical vegan paradigm shift, I will conclude by proposing a vision for nonhuman-human social relations that is grounded in an anti-capitalist and ecofeminist ethic of collective action and resistance to systems of domination. I draw and build on scholarship by ecofeminist writers such as Carol Adams and Josephine Donovan (who have been largely disregarded among mainstream academic feminists) and use their work to mobilize a modified version of Kenneth Burke’s concept of rhetorical “identification.” If for Burke rhetoric makes human unity possible, then a post-humanist rhetoric critiquing interlocking human-nonhuman oppressions should aim to make a more inclusive unity possible, one not fractured by ethically arbitrary divisions along species lines.
(Barrett, The Honors College, Arizona State University)
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Social attitudes towards animals develop from childhood and the everyday discourse surrounding
them. In the UK at least, animals are categorised into subject/object, edible/inedible, even
visible/invisible (Stewart & Cole 2009) through the instillation of social norms from those we trust around us. Part of these socialisation processes includes the media, not least through the cultural consumption of children’s television (TV). TV representations are investigated to highlight the inconsistencies taught to our children through popular animal characters.
There is little objection to any claim that youngsters love animals: toy collections and city farm
visits of many children evidence this. However, most of these children also eat animals and will
continue to into adulthood – an example of the ‘Meat Paradox’ (Loughnan, Bastian & Puvia 2012).
Extending this, the more species-specific ‘Peppa Pig Paradox’ (Korimboccus 2020) highlights the
species adorning the side of lunchboxes as well as filling the sandwiches inside. Ham-eating
Peppa Pig fans (and fish-eating aquaria visitors) demonstrate disconnect before children are even
cognitively able to question it. They believe certain animals are ‘for’ certain purposes – usually
human gain of some sort, and frequently through food choices.
Media has a role in the reinforcement of these everyday contradictions through representation of
various animal species. Content analysis of children’s mainstream UK TV series evidences these
speciesist stereotypes, from ‘pests’ such as Peter Rabbit to ‘pets’ in Ferne & Rorie’s Vet Tales.
Though other work exists on wider media depictions of animals on TV (e.g. Mills 2017), and even
on children’s TV during the analog era (Paul 1996), these studies are the first to focus solely on
pre-school and primary-age children’s digital terrestrial TV in the 21 st century. These culturally-
made relationships with animals were investigated in 314 children’s shows with lead animal
characters across five separate days of UK TV programming in Summer 2020. Since
representations undoubtedly influence attitudes, recognising the role of such culture transmission
is vital to challenge assumptions about animals and help promote a paradigm shift towards the
consistency of veganism.
Lynda M Korimboccus
(Independent Scholar, Sociology, Scotland, UK)
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Fires and floods rage across the world, destroying entire communities, in the process. They leave
behind ashy remnants and miry residues, as reminders of their power and destruction. One day,
these remnants and residues might be all that is left of our civilisation, as we know it, since the
climate crisis puts our future – the future of every species on earth – in danger. These desolate
landscapes are the worlds that contemporary speculative fiction imagines; these are the worlds
where disaster has struck, and people do what they have to do to survive – or so they say.
As a result of their climate changed worlds, speculative fictions texts, such as D’Lacey’s Meat, hold
an interest in the production and consumption of flesh (a large contributor to the current climate
crisis). Meat explores how a climate changed world, without animals, facilitates a renegotiation of
the different kinds of flesh that are considered edible. For the ideologically conditioned townspeople
of Meat’s Abyrne, it is no longer herds of cows that they raise for consumption; instead, their herds
are comprised of humans. Moving from slaughterhouse to home, human flesh fills the stomachs of
Abyrne’s residents. This choice is, perhaps, surprising, since it seems so far removed from our
current societies; yet, Meat suggests that flesh is always sustenance, and we are only one power-
hungry meat baron away from having human flesh on our plates.
The farming of human flesh, in Meat, encourages ethical questions about not only what it means to
eat flesh but also what it means to be flesh. Acknowledging humans as being flesh allows humans to
move into what Matthew Calarco calls a “zone of indistinction” with animals. In this zone, humans
acknowledge a shared fleshiness and recognise that they are like animals. Can seeing humans as
flesh – in every disturbing form – encourage a better way of treating humans and animals alike, as
equal, more-than-fleshy beings, in our current world? To answer such a question, I will show that we
must turn to speculative fiction texts, like Meat. I will explore how Abryne’s leaders manufacture
distinctions between the edible and the inedible, alongside analyses of the strange ideological
conditioning moments of flesh consumption in Meat, in order engage with Calarco’s indistinction
I conclude that, while the climate crisis offers us an insight into what it means to eat flesh and
Calarco’s indistinction approach offers us an insight into what it means to be flesh, crucially,
speculative fiction offers us an insight into what it means to both be and eat flesh, in a world where
everything is on the menu.
(School of English, University of Sheffield)
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This paper explores shmita, the biblical concept and practice at the heart of Judaism’s
sustainable-agriculture ethic, showing that today’s so-called modern ideas — such as
veganism, rewilding and economic degrowth — are effectively incarnations of millennia-
old practices in indigenous Judaism that rebalance the relationship between humans and
their fellow animals, demonstrating a utilitarian value that complements the intrinsic
value of preserving ancient traditions.
Beginning as the ancient Israelites, the Jewish people were mostly farmers and shepherds
practicing sustainable agriculture according to the edicts of the Torah, the Hebrew Bible.
Over about 1,800 years of exile, however, Jews were unable to practice their land-based
traditions tied to their holy land. But the dawn of modern-day Zionism in the mid-to-late
19th century and the subsequent return of Jews to their homeland in what is now Israel
has allowed Jews to revive the sustainable-agricultural practices of indigenous Judaism.
Long-forgotten aspects of the biblical laws of shmita delineate a relationship of equality
between humans and their fellow animals, both domesticated and wild. This paper examines
the biblical verses of shmita, the history of its practice, and how the millennia-
old biblical ideal governing relationships between humans and other animals could inspire
people of faith today.
(School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Arizona State University)
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Animal activism is entering the mainstream of public discourse, with unprecedented
attention from the media, industry and government. Yet with this success has come
a backlash, with activists often facing hostile media coverage and legal opposition
from animal-use industries and governments. Yet, more subtly, the discussion also
tends to associate animal advocacy with veganism, with the latter often framed as an
individual’s dietary or life-style choice. Thus, the political claims of activists are, I
argue, being obscured by public narratives that conflate the animal rights/justice
movement with veganism.
The first section of this paper provides an analysis of news media coverage
(newspaper, radio and television) of a day of co-ordinated protests that took place on
April 8, 2019, in major cities and rural sites around Australia. The day of protests,
which included a group of activists staging a sit-in in the middle of a Melbourne CBD
intersection during morning peak-hour, and others chaining themselves to machinery
in abattoirs, received nation-wide media coverage. In response to the protests, the
Australian Prime Minister labelled the activists involved as “green-collared criminals”,
while the President of the National Farmers Federation equated animal activism with
“terrorism”. The protests also resulted in calls for the introduction of laws to target
activism that is directed against the agricultural industry. In reviewing the media
coverage of the event, I find that a majority of sources discuss or make reference to
veganism. This came despite the fact that the lead organiser of the protests claimed
the goal of the protests was not to promote veganism, but rather to increase
transparency in the agricultural industry. Furthermore, I show that much of the
coverage also frames protesters as criminals, or even extremists.
The second part of the paper offers a normative analysis of the coverage. Veganism
is generally not seen as a political, but rather as a personal, identity. As such, in
labelling the protesters as “vegan” and highlighting the promotion of veganism as the
goal of the protest, I argue that this serves to de-emphasise the protest’s political
nature. Thus, discussions around the rights of farmed animals and consumers to
have a more transparent agricultural industry become obscured by debates around
whether it is ethical to eat meat, and whether vegans should be attempting to impose
their views on others. I also argue that the process of de-politicisation is bolstered by
the criminalisation and “terrorisation” of the activists in the news media coverage,
which serves to de-legitimise their position. The terrorisation of animal activists has
been noted elsewhere, particularly in the United States, but this phenomenon has
not previously been much explored in the context of Australian activism.
I argue that the findings of this study – that the claims of animal activists are de-
politicised when they are “veganised” and criminalised – suggest that greater care
should be taken by journalists in how they present animal advocacy, and by animal
advocates themselves, in how they present their campaigns.
(School of Politics & International Relations, Australian National University)