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White Veganism: Why Racism Should Have No Place in the Vegan Movement

White veganism disregards oppression. Acknowledging racial injustice in vegan movements works towards dismantling oppression in all its forms, says Jena Alsup.

In recent years, the vegan movement has grown immensely. With the popularization of non-dairy milk and the increased abundance of alternative proteins, it has become much easier for the average individual to transition to a plant-based diet.

There are many reasons to consider veganism and as a vegan, the uptick in plant-based diet popularity is exciting for me. However, the notion of “white veganism” has been flooding my social media feeds and is unsettling.

What is white veganism and what makes it bad?

White veganism is another way to describe mainstream veganism. Even though people of color play a huge role in advancing the vegan movement, mainstream veganism is often characterized by white, middle-class, and able-bodied people advocating for animal rights.

Sadly, white veganism almost always disregards oppression against certain humans: people of color, women, and people with disabilities to name a few. Some white vegans even go so far as to compare animal oppression to American slavery and the Holocaust, downplaying the importance of race in causing these events.

Veganism and Injustice.

Veganism is often perpetuated by able-bodied white social media influencers with a large following. However, it can be traced back to the beginning of the vegan movement. Take the Vegan Society, a prominent vegan charity established in 1944 was considered to be the birth of the modern vegan movement.

Their goal is to work towards “a world where humans do not exploit non-human animals.” While it is an admirable goal to alleviate oppression, only focusing on non-human animal rights and ignoring the oppression that certain groups of people face is racist and lacks intersectionality.

Many other corners of the vegan movement are also plagued by white veganism. For example, many plant-based items are marked as “cruelty-free” This label is used for any products that were created without testing on or harming animals.

While many people believe that buying goods with the cruelty-free label is the essence of shopping ethically, the notion of 100% cruelty-free products often ignores the exploitation of non-white farm workers in producing vegan foods.”

Making Veganism Inclusive.

With all that said, the question becomes: what can we do to make the vegan movement more inclusive? In my experience, the best way to tackle an issue is to talk about it with others! Have discussions with your friends and family to raise awareness for white veganism and explore solutions.

I also recommend following more diverse vegan social media influencers. Some of my favorites are Isaias Hernandez, Iye Bako, and Yvette Baker because they all infuse environmental justice into their vegan activism. Ultimately, to transition from white veganism to intersectional veganism, we must call out racism, amplify the voices of people of color, and educate ourselves on the intersection of white supremacy and food systems.

And for any fellow vegans out there, we must acknowledge the racial injustice in our movement. Only then can we work towards dismantling oppression, in all its forms.

Feature Image by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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White Veganism: Why Racism Should Have No Place in the Vegan Movement

by Jena Alsup Reading time: 2 min
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