“Queerphobia and veganphobia”

I began working on spreading the word on vegephobia (read about it here) a year and a half ago and the people I reached to mostly reacted with relief, gratitude and deeper understanding of their situation. Because by learning about vegephobia you can see that you were not alone in being harassed, mocked, teased and put pressure on and you can understand that the real target was not you but the animals killed for consumption and that it all comes from our society being deeply speciesist, thus, instead of blaming the vegephobic people themselves you can understand them and blame society.

But, a small number of people (whom I suspect not to have read and/or understood the brochure) expressed concern about the term vegephobia turning vegetarians into yet another oppressed group and that, instead, we should show how easy and wonderful the world of vegetarian is… That, unfortunately, is exactly a result of vegephobia, because, let’s face it, the world is, still, much easier for carnists…

And, unfortunately, an even smaller number of people were upset that we dare compare vegephobia to homophobia. We did compare the two because the mechanisms of both are very similar and because they both stem from a phallocratic society. But, after my second talk about vegephobia, in Luxembourg, I was very moved to hear the testimony of a vegan homosexual, thanking us for making the connection and telling us that being vegetarian and homosexual, he did feel doubly attacked.

A few weeks ago I read Defiant Daughters (download the ebook here) and I was not really surprised but still amazed that Margaret Perret, one of the writers of that collection of essays, came up in Queering the Dinner Table with the word “veganphobia”, apparently not knowing that the term vegephobia existed since 2001, but, most of all, she compared it to “queerphobia”:

“I have found that comments about my queerness and veganism reflect queerphobia and veganphobia in patriarchal culture, respectively.  Adams presents several theoretical insights into why verbal attacks against LGBTQQIA people and vegans are structurally determined in a similar way in a patriarchal society. Perhaps most striking is the observation that both fail to take seriously the ethical, political, and personal dimensions of a vegan or queer lifestyle. Trivializing and delegitimating, verbal attacks against LGBTQQIA people and veg*ns (meaning both vegans and vegetarians) are attempts to disempower the reformer and uphold Western, patriarchal hierarchies. It is clear that responses to my veganism are not earnest efforts to understand the theoretical and moral basis for my dietary choices, but rather teasing manipulations, as indicated by ludicrous questions about the sentience of plants, the legitimacy of carnivorous animals, or the stringency of my dietary commitments. By diverting the conversation from a serious analysis of food ethics, the speaker avoids a thoughtful reexamination of the contents of her or his dinner plate and reinforces the dominant discourse that excludes veg*n voices. Queerness also threatens patriarchal hierarchies by presenting an alternative to the traditional heterosexual model. As veg*ns struggle to make their meanings understood within a culture fiercely committed to meat-eating, LGBTQQIA people struggle to make their meanings understood within a culture that only accepts the legitimacy of heterosexual relations. What is of moral, personal, political, and existential importance to veg*ns, LGBTQQIA people, and other marginalized people often becomes entertainment for those who wish to discuss, but not seriously engage with what it means to be veg*n, queer, or otherwise marginalized. I found this to be very much true to the process of coming out as a vegan and a queer person. While I have found so much acceptance and love among my friend groups and Bay Area communities, only a few members of my family know that I am vegan, and even fewer know that I am queer. I have largely kept silent about my dietary choices and sexuality because I know that my family ascribes to the Western cultural values that hold queer-vegan perspectives to be illegitimate, illogical, and inferior. When I first told my mom about my sexuality, she advised, “You are just going to have to play up the parts of yourself that you want other people to know about.” Still recovering from the stress of coming out, I just nodded. […] And later, when I told my mom about my veganism, she responded, “I just think you’re being really extreme”.

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Published in: on February 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm  Comments (2)  

The Myth of Culture

The myth of culture is how I named something I came up with last week and am exploring now and when I googled it I found a book I immediately bought (it arrived today). I can’t wait to read it. It’s nice to see that I can come up with the same idea as a Cambridge scholar.

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Published in: on February 14, 2014 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment