Get Fresh! Magazine has published us

January 11, 2011

Hey! Thanks for all of the support you’ve shown us and information you’ve passed along to us since this blog started. We’re excited to announce that Carolyn Zaikowski from The Myths About The Vegetarian Myth blog is a featured writer this month in Britain’s Get Fresh! magazine, a publication focusing on raw food, holistic health, and veganism. Amazing editor Sarah Best sought her out after coming across this blog. The article, entitled “Why I’ll always be vegan”, is a counter-piece to an article called “Why I’m no longer vegan.” You can get a print or electronic copy here if you’re interested.


Lierre Keith, trans-hatred, veganism, feminism, liberation: a start

January 7, 2011

I want to thank the Transmeditations Blog for bringing this information to our attention in a post that elucidates Lierre Keith’s really unsettling (to say the least) and quite explicit hatred, sterotyping, and writing off of trans/gender queer folk. Please read it.

I repost this not in an attempt to take a shallow dig at Lierre Keith, though it is challenging for me not to take that dig. Indeed, this post, Keith’s simplistic and offensive comparisons between various complicated social identities, her lack of willingness to see the vast, matrix-like complicatedness of gender, sexuality, bodies, and minds, her use of assumption and stereotype, and her rehashing of old theories/writings from a particular group of notoriously trans-hating “radical”, white, US second-wave feminists — this all gave me a sick feeling in my stomach and made me feel deep anger and sadness. However, I’m reposting it because I want to question the whole idea that one can be effectively involved in radical food politics without a substantiated, nuanced, creative, and non-reactionary (a.k.a. fear based, backwards-looking) exploration of gender.

Another radical vegan explores Lierre Keith’s rabid trans-hatred here.

For now, let me say this: In this blog, we seek to challenge not only Lierre Keith (honestly, she doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme, not even really in the semi-grand scheme) but to challenge ideas being put forth by generally well-intentioned but reactionary critiques of veganism. Often these ideas leave out veganism’s critical and real connections to ecology, capitalism, gender, racism, and human rights in general. Lierre Keith represents just one of a group of thinkers who disconnect these issues explicitly and implicitly (usually implicitly). Indeed, hardly any of her core ideas are original. It is the picture she paints, the picture she supposedly lives, which lends itself to a larger analysis that goes far beyond her.

We are not only vegans, but human rights advocates. We see human and non-human liberation as intricately intertwined. We see connections between gender and veganism that go on for miles. These issues go beyond, even, ecology and environmentalism, leading us to questions like: What of domination, cages, jails, in general? What of questioning the very existence of breeding animals to be captive farming instruments/objects? What of our rabid defensiveness around this issue, our unwillingness to even entertain the  idea of a world without hundreds of billions of animal objects? What of the fact that animal agriculture represents the most large-scale, violent manipulation of reproductive systems, others’ sex, and bodies-in-general that has ever existed? What of challenging the deep-seated construction of the human/animal dichotomy that so mirrors the false dichotomies of human identities (black/white, man/woman, et al.?) I want to write a larger post on this issue at some point… a post about vegan feminism, about human and animal liberation, about so many ways in which veganism must be considered as a radical, liberatory philosophy and practice directly related to, and intertwined with, human liberation. I’ll write that post soon. For now, good night, and don’t forget to revolt.


Another thoughtful review from Compassionate Spirit

December 31, 2010

The review is called “Mythology and Vegetarianism” and it’s from the Compassionate Spirit blog.

An excerpt:

This book echoes a lot of the ideas throughout at least the internet portion of the “Transition” movement (preparing for a low-carbon future). People are bad-mouthing veganism and talking about backyard chickens, goats, and all manner of other livestock. (Fewer people have actually tried this, and I think that these options are going to be less attractive once it becomes apparent what is really involved.) There is talk about “holistic resource management,” meaning livestock management, which will actually increase the number of cattle on the land.

 

An emphasis on livestock agriculture in the energy descent is just a really unsustainable idea, and I’m not talking about just or even mostly Lierre Keith. This whole area just hasn’t been thought out. People are just putting out plausible-sounding arguments because it allows them to continue their meat-centered diets and still claim to be radical environmentalists.

 

Livestock grazing is as old as the hills and is the single most destructive form of human activity on earth. (See Akers, A Vegetarian Sourcebook, 1983). Much of the biologically “productive” area on the planet has been degraded or destroyed by livestock agriculture. Look at much of the Sahara Desert, look much of the “desert” in the American southwest — this is a result of overgrazing. Vague and unsupported statements to the effect that “well managed pasture builds soil” or that “we need perennial polycultures” are not going to convince me.

 

This whole discussion appears to be a way to continue the nutritional status quo (everyone gets to eat meat, and lots of it) under a facade of environmentalism. So while the most interesting feature of Lierre Keith’s new book to me is its radical demand for population reduction, I suspect that its appeal in the energy descent community will mostly be the appeal of continuing our meat consumption behind a “green” facade.


“On Ex-Vegans”

December 21, 2010

Interesting commentary from the Unpopular Vegan Essays blog on why we should take “ex-vegans” with a grain of salt:

Unpopular Vegan Essays: On Ex-Vegans

From this essay: “When we combine the above varieties in meaning, character, reasons, and egos, as well as the individual anecdotes and tales of drama, we see that the stories of ex-vegans can tell us nothing of significance or of any reliability about veganism, what vegans are like, what being vegan is like, or what good reasons there are for going vegan. For that kind of information, we should consult longtime vegans, unbiased dietetic professionals and vegan nutritional books and materials, abolitionist animal rights books and education materials, and most importantly, commit to veganism and vegan education ourselves.”

Interestingly, there are several places in The Vegetarian Myth and in subsequent interviews with Lierre Keith where she states that she often “binged” on animal products; in other words, she wasn’t even a vegan: Here’s an analysis of a radio interview Lierre Keith did, in which she talks about bingeing on animal products once a week.


Introducing the Carnism Awareness and Action Network

December 4, 2010

We are excited that CAAN: Carnism Awareness and Action Network has kickstarted. This is a great resource for vegan advocates and meat eaters alike, dedicated to naming the invisible paradigm that allows well-meaning people–people who have other choices–to choose to eat some animals and not others.

CAAN’s mission statement:

CAAN’s mission is to expose and transform carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. CAAN empowers vegetarian and vegan advocates and concerned citizens through education and activism.

Accordingly, CAAN espouses the following beliefs and principles:

  • The production and consumption of animal products is the leading cause of animal exploitation and environmental degradation and a major contributor to human disease, human rights violations, and unjust taxation via animal agriculture subsidies. We therefore believe that carnism poses a direct threat to both animal and public welfare and must be addressed with urgency.
  • We believe that most people care about animals and do not want to cause them unnecessary harm; therefore, when people choose to eat animals they act against their own interests, as they must violate their core values.
  • Because it is impossible to objectively discuss the issue of eating animals as long as we are operating from within the system – unaware of the structure and effects of carnism – we believe that it is necessary to expose carnism in order to have a valid public dialogue about the legitimacy of animal agriculture.
  • Because carnism is organized around violence and deception, we believe that transforming the system is essential for creating a just, sustainable, and democratic society.
  • Carnism is a system of victimization that exploits carnists and pits carnists and vegetarians against one another. We believe that carnists and vegetarians must unite in order to transform the system.
  • We recognize that many people, such as those who are economically disadvantaged or geographically dependent on eating animals, do not have the luxury of reflecting on their food choices.
  • We acknowledge that carnism is one of many systems of interlocking oppressions and that social transformation requires a broad social analysis.
  • We are committed to total nonviolence, in action and attitude. CAAN does not endorse physical violence or degrading language.
  • We believe that the time is ripe to challenge carnism and that with enough public support we can, and will, transform the system.

Philosophical Overview: Lierre Keith’s Vegetarian Myth: Nostalgie de la Boue by Stuart Hindmarsh

October 24, 2010

Here’s a very thoughtful analysis that discusses Keith’s research and fallacies: Philosophical Overview: Lierre Keith’s Vegetarian Myth: Nostalgie de la Boue by Stuart Hindmarsh

Here are two very astute passages from him, but you should read the whole thing too:

“[Lierre Keith] presents her current view as an ‘adult’ one that comes to accept the necessity of death, but my impression is that she still hasn’t come to terms with death. I am not opposed to the killing of animals for food in every circumstance, but I would say that in the cases in which it is acceptable, killing an animal is an unfortunate but understandable necessity—the animal doesn’t offer itself to be killed. Keith, it seems to me, couldn’t bear to accept this view of the world as a place in which survival may depend on ‘domination’ and ‘exploitation’. She needed to view the killing of an animal as part of a beautiful compact that the animal had entered into, one in which the animal allows us to kill it if we agree to become prey ourselves at some point (e.g. p. 23-24, 271).”

“It is an extremely time-consuming process to check citations and to hunt down and read the original research they are based on. This is especially the case when dealing with the style of writing employed by Keith and favoured by polemicists of all persuasions. She offers waves of statistics without providing an adequate account of their context, failing to describe the nature of the original research and the nature of the debates in the relevant literature. I don’t believe that Keith’s supporters have checked all of her citations either, though. They like her conclusion, and so they will assume that her arguments are sound and her research strong. I suspect that we will find her sympathizers repeating her claims about Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons, citing her book for support and consequently appealing to a source even further removed from the original research papers. I have concluded that it isn’t worth my time checking all her citations, for her thesis is utopian, her arguments are generally unsound, and the citations that I did take the time to check revealed sloppy research.”


Don’t Buy This Book!

October 21, 2010

It’s always important to be familiar with what you’re critiquing, but that doesn’t mean you have to give Lierre Keith your money. Just download the book. I defy anyone to make it through the first chapter without clenching their teeth.


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