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Queer Empowerment: Food Justice, Veganism and the Act of Resistance

This blog post is part of our 2015 PRIDE DRIVE.
Please give whatever you can so that VINE Sanctuary can continue to provoke conversations about veganism and animal liberation in spaces where animals usually have no advocates.

As LGBTQ folks and allies converged at the 2015 Five Colleges Queer Gender and Sexuality Conference in Amherst the weekend of March 6th and 7th, the importance of food justice, veganism and resisting violence was in the forefront of my mind. Over 25 people joined VINE Sanctuary’s workshop hungry for information, eager to find connections between the food we eat, the purchases we make, and ways to empower the queer community by resisting violence against non-human animals as we challenge the dominant diet.

In opening, I welcomed participants to look into their hearts and reflect on the ways in which our relationships with our community — including non-human animals — mirrors our ethical and spiritual well being.  The purchases we make affect not only people of color and their livelihoods but also living sentient beings the world over.

An activity that helped start some important conversations was the “chalk talk”.  I wrote both “vegan” and “queer” on the board and folks came up to write down things they thought, about both identities/communities and separately about each identifier. Words for “vegan” that folks put on the board included: compassionate, loving, inaccessible, anti-oppression, and pretentious. The words that were written on the board for “queer” were: community, cool, fierce, and fluidity.  While reviewing the words that were used, I asked some questions that prompted an engaging discussion of the overlapping connections:

“In which ways do you think these identities empower/disempower people?”

“How do they affect the ways in which we may experience the word?”

“How can we use our voices individually as well as collectively to support nonhuman animals and queer human animals after they have experienced violence from capitalistic, industrialized, heteropatriarchy?”

“Do you notice how many queer folks are vegan and include animal liberation in their politics and bring light to the importance of food justice?”

Brandie (back row, second from right) with some of the workshop participants

Brandie (back row, second from right) with some of the workshop participants

As a group we discussed some of the issues some folks have with plant-based diets:

Accessibility, how folks in food deserts are able unable to travel to and from supermarkets that have nutritious food for their families, farmers markets and dollar stores, to buy the food they need to keep their bodies healthy, to buy pleasure food to keep their souls healthy and why our government — through subsidies — makes food that is the least nutritious for us the cheapest. (A great resource for eating vegan is from VegCoach.org Eat Vegan For $4 a Day. )

Decolonizing: Addressing cultural identity and the importance of enjoying foods from your own ancestral history. How often white vegans cook food native to other cultures and attempt to take credit for it without paying tribute to where it came from or the people who created these recipes and the importance of not whitewashing

Elitism: white middle-class privileged vegans shaming and judging those who do eat plant-based and how this repels rather than attracts many people who might wish to explore rejecting animals products as well as creating a general divide within the vegan community.

The connections I made with those who attended the workshop at Queer Conference 2015 were vibrant, intentional and genuine. I received, and am still currently replying to, emails and comments online that thanked me for showing an intersectional side of animal liberation and the importance of queering veganism. I’m so very proud to be able help folks start these conversations, and I am hoping they will be able to bring some of the connections we made back to their own queer communities.

 This blog post is part of our 2015 PRIDE DRIVE.
Please give whatever you can so that VINE Sanctuary can continue to provoke conversations about veganism and animal liberation in spaces where animals usually have no advocates.

2 comments to Queer Empowerment: Food Justice, Veganism and the Act of Resistance

  • Nice work!
    Great to hear about this workshop. From a genderqueer bi vegan living in the countryside – makes me feel a little less alone. ;)
    Peace and carrots!

    J.

  • Nickola
    Really happy to hear/learn that genderqueer is out there and connecting here. Vine Sanctuary will be a very special web contact for this non-trad guy and my friend (-s). I love the woods and often feel isolated in this concrete-minded world of Nature-alienated people. I hope to get to hear from you, all, so we can be more related, interacting with and supportive to living and life: its creatures and Nature in its beautiful fullness. Maybe I can come visit and walk in the forest sometime (I’m not good at climbing but love slowly climbing fields and slopes and contemplating what’s there jn a given moment.
    So hope to hear from any of you with similar likes. Bless you…. Nick

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