Veganism in and of itself is the practice of abstaining from the use and exploitation of animals as far as practical. Veganism rejects the mainstream narrative that animals are here for us to use in whatever way we choose, from dietary consumption to attire to experimentation. It is a rejection of the carnist and speciesist mindset and calls for justice and liberation of animals.
White Veganism is a reference to mainstream veganism—which is, undeniably very white, narrow, one sided and ignores intersectionality. It aims to expose and erase the invisibility of oppression on other animal bodies to the masses, while simultaneously ignoring and being silent about the very visible injustice and oppression of black and brown bodies, femme bodies, or differently-abled bodies. Sometimes even utilizing the history of oppression on Black bodies and other oppressed groups as a tool to promote veganism.
If the collective goal is to end oppression by evoking a massive awakening in our society, oppression should first be understood—how it functions, how it’s sustained, why it exist. It’s easy to have a one-sided view of oppression when your existence in life is at the furthest location from oppressed.
Effectively engaging communities of color in the fight for animal liberation will not be accomplished by telling us to shut up about our issues and focus on animal lives. It will not be accomplished by a PoC walking past a naked, White womxn laying on the concrete lacquered in red corn syrup.
The more constructive approach would be illustrating how our government heavily subsidizes this corrosive industry, then create programs (i.e. WIC) that will disproportionately funnel disease-inducing food into Black and Brown bodies. How CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are strategically placed in or near PoC communities where irresponsibly managed waste poisons the air, water, and food supply of the community. How we shouldn’t attack slaughterhouse workers who are not evil incarnates, but poor and marginalized people forced to work a job most people would not do themselves. How realizing that our plant-based foods are anything but “cruelty free” when you consider the farm workers who are horribly mistreated most places our food is grown. The intersection of capitalism and white supremacy utilizes the mass exploitation of animals as a medium to drive profit and power over people and the planet.
The tactic of guilting PoC into the fight for animal liberation needs to stop now. Shifting the focus towards enlightening and empowering PoC through veganism. Because the vegan voice of color will not be amplified for the voiceless by silencing our own oppression. Animal oppression is our oppression.
White veganism has created an image of veganism as Whole Foods shopping and dependent on having a large enough income to eat only expensive foods. It ignores issues of food security and rights from the prevalence of Food Deserts in low-income, PoC communities to the mass exploitation of farm and food workers. White vegans are the most prominent faces of veganism and so white veganism has shaped the dominant discourse had around animals rights, the environment, and health to be basic.
The adherers of white veganism (because white veganism is a way in which veganism is advocated and could very well be adhered to by a PoC) will often talk about how they do not care about the oppression of humans and will willfully engage in that oppression. They will often times perpetuate racism and sexism in their quest to promote veganism or just in everyday actions as they do not care about dismantling other systems of oppression. This is due to the privilege white vegans inherit that allows them to not think about race or racism on a daily basis. White veganism erases the role that whiteness and its constructs create and promote in animal exploitation. They will often say we are “divisive” and “taking away from the animals” when we speak on the issues of white veganism but nothing could be farther from the truth. White veganism creates barriers against veganism, it paints veganism as being inherently racist.
Animal liberation cannot succeed through white veganism.