As I reflect on the various topics of gender and environment connected issues we have covered this semester, I am greatly drawn to vegetarian ecofeminism. Having grown up in a culture that constructed meat eating as “normal,” it had rarely crossed my naïve mind how oppressive these actions are to the lives of non-human animals. As I read through the work of Gaard, Curtin, and Eisenberg, I became astonished at the connection between meat eating and the oppression of women and non-human animals. It made me think about my own contribution to this very exploitation that our society deems acceptable to fit into cultural scripts of gender performativity.
Why are we taking part in violence against life that is not our own?
Why is it that we follow the desires of patriarchy in establishing superiority between species?
Society capitalizes off the narratives created by food industries and for this reason we have lost the connection held between all forms of life including that of the natural environment. It is with this that I will take on a personal activist action that diminishes exploitation of non-human animals. As you are reading this post, I have begun the first step in putting my theoretical viewpoint into action. Although this project asks us to set a timeframe to implement our proposals, I wish to continue this activism beyond the concluding update.
To understand the extent of my activism, I will begin eliminating any animal flesh and animal products from my diet. Veganism is defined as a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, and honey as well as any other animal byproducts. I plan on consuming a diet centered around foods such as beans, legumes, fruits, and grains just to name a few. To the left is a small example list of plant-based foods taken from a vegan nutrition website which I plan on utilizing to help me with preparing meals over the next week. I will also use a vegan calculator to track the amount of animal lives I saved as well as other natural resources that are degraded in connection to animal consumption.
For me, this is much more than following an outlined regimen, it is the incorporation of political views and personal ethics into my actions. I am brought back to Gaard’s words in which she calls on our ethical responsibility in recognizing the non-human animal as our extended families; taking part in animal consumption is not only exploitation towards the non-human animal but also adherence to patriarchy in which works to subjugate those disadvantaged by man. In addition to veganism in my own practice, I wish to take this activism to the classroom in another one of my courses which focuses on rhetoric in our society. This will look like a set of proposed social media posts which connect the marketing rhetoric of meat to patriarchal notions of hegemonic masculinity informing others of the avoidable exploitation of non-human animals and its connection to the oppression of women.
With the combination of personal actions in my own life as well as awareness to those around me, I hope to apply the importance of the vegetarian ecofeminist theoretical perspective in ways that can make a larger impact in the community. Societal ideologies continue to embed that the self is what matters as power and profit are the leading aspirations of life, but in following this, oppression continues to ripple across those who fall below advantaged identities. For me, vegetarian ecofeminism is more than terminating the consumption of non-human animals, it is the ethical obligation to object to the commands of patriarchy and sympathize with the treatment of the non-human animals’ life as our own.