[Why differentiate between veganism and antispeciesism?] It is not the notion of “veganism” as such that poses a problem but rather its control over the media and especially the fact that it is perceived and promoted as the expected goal of the actions carried out by the various animalist associations. Antispeciesism is somehow “invisibilized” by veganism in the public space.
The reason is simple: the more mainstream, the notion of “veganism” is less politicized, more joyful and above all more able to sell!
Veganism speaks mostly of humans and not many of the other animals… Just as the latter gradually disappear from the events and places stamped with the precious label “vegan” (VeggieWorld style). For fear of shocking or not being kind enough, we even prefer not to mention the victims and turn to anthropocentric arguments. We prefer to talk about our diet rather than the fate of the oppressed. This constant injunction to give a good self image and to make our discourse complacent demonstrates the communitarian and depoliticizing effect of veganism, as if the only strategy we had to propose was the famous golden rule of marketing: “seduce rather than convince”. Anti-speciesism does not need to “make envy” or “sell”: the imperatives of justice and equality must be self-sufficient and have no need for advertising tricks.
The obsession with consumerism and individualism leads to rewarding awareness rather than action, emphasizes veganism rather than antispeciesism, and cares about the content of the vegan plate rather than the fate of the oppressed.
An increasing depoliticization of the great social justice movements] – This is a classic phenomenon: that of an attempt to recover “isms” through publicity and the capitalist system, a vast depoliticization of the great social justice movements. Feminist journalist Dawn Foster denounces this phenomenon in her book entitled “Lean out”, which addresses a trend called “Femvertising”: the use of cries of diverted feminist rallies to sell standardized products that advocate precisely the opposite!
In the same way, the word “vegan” has become a label, a brand, a fashion, a community, a trendy hashtag, a social identity, a brand of nobility for stars, a nice ideological coating to an unchanged society. Why does it work? Because it promises a guarantee of rebellion without terrifying public opinion, a feeling of commitment without losing its standard consumer references…
[Making the revolution by filling your shopping cart?] The more we individualize the animal question, the less we politicize it. The most prominent strategy adopted by the animalist movement is that of mimicry: there is hardly ever a political project discussed and a very unambitious moralist approach is adopted.
On the contrary, it is a question for us of expressing ideas and making a demand (abolition of speciesism) instead of wanting to belong to a category (being vegan).
The demand for justice requires legislative, institutional or social change; the call to virtue is apolitical: it requires people to change their individual behaviour.
Decades of failure should invite us to change our strategy… Individuals are often the product of the norms and institutions of their society: these must be criticized and targeted by our activism to change things.
In the current discourse, capitalism remains intact. We do not dare to point out an enemy, we do not dare to point out our true goal, which is the end of animal exploitation, by telling ourselves that it is too ambitious for the moment.
📷 Photographie : Direct action of blockade at Guy Harang’s slaughterhouse (France), opération led by activists of 269 Libération Animale on the 26th April of 2018 (© Clara Nourry)