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If veganism is about much more than eating, it is because so too is eating itself. Veganism is a
necessary if imperfect response to the general aporia of eating, which, as Michael Marder put it, “is
inherently unethical, a violent destruction of the immediate autonomy of the eaten incorporated into
the eater” (Marder 2013). Eating, then, embodies profound questions about nourishment,
communion, predation, and violence, questions that transcend the subject of food. In “Veganism for
the Eyes,” I ask what happens when we swap mouths for eyes, the gastronomic for the ocular.
Drawing on Simone Weil’s analogy between looking and eating, I begin to develop a vegan
ontology of art, rethinking art’s relationship to its objects through the notions of renunciation and
restraint, allowing the objects of art to be, without being devoured. An alternative relational model,
veganism resists current theorizations of intimacy and entanglement between human and nonhuman animals. In place of the intimate assemblages touted by major strands of posthumanism and new materialism, a vegan relational ontology looks without devouring, resisting the seductions of
contact via the gesture of attentive detachment.
(Queen Mary University of London)