Eating for Liberation: Food as a Medium for Social Change
We are witnessing an unprecedented, profound shift around veganism and plant-based diets in our society. We can understand these changes from three frameworks. One framework presents veganism as the morally-superior ethical response to nonhuman animal exploitation (i.e. a reaction to speciesism). This 'single-issue' vision tends to reproduce oppressive dynamics in society around race, gender, and capitalism.
A second framework reduces veganism to a plant-based diet, which becomes then a matter of individual choice and something to be practiced for different reasons (health, ethical, environmental, etc.). This individualistic framing fails to acknowledge veganism as worldview, and threatens to deepen capitalistic power relations (e.g. the impossible burger).
A third framework conceptualizes veganism as a integral part of eating for liberation, a radical lens that responds to the root problem: anthropocentric imperialist white supremacist patriarchal capitalism. Framing veganism in this way can allow us to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others, while cultivating a deeper understanding of how forms are oppression are interconnected. It is quite the mouthful, but worth saying: for as we name the problem, more pathways towards justice, peace, and liberation open in front of us.
Anne DeLessio-Parson is an educator and scholar-activist, whose work focuses on liberatory currents of social change and the revolutionary potential of veganism. She holds a PhD in sociology and demography, and master's degrees in rural sociology and political science. Her studies have involved work in the United States, Latin America, and South India.