I routinely compare speciesism to sexism and racism. I say: Why would I be a speciesist if I’m not a racist or sexist? Why would humans collectively consider themselves the superior species if in many parts of the world we’ve decided that no race or sex is superior and even put this into law? Sometimes I tell myself that in maybe 200 years speciesism will have taken the course of sexism and racism: While not eradicated, it will no longer be mainstream, but frowned-upon in more progressive circles and perhaps even illegal.Read More
Do you know anybody who protests against rising socioeconomic inequality and votes for higher income taxation and redistribution of wealth, but eats animals? I‘ve met many and always struggle reconciling their belief in social justice with their lack of sympathy for veganism. Not only are these otherwise compassionate, equality-seeking people not vegan, many actually reject veganism as elitist and say it reinforces or at least plays into the social inequalities they oppose. Veganism‘s elitist image keeps them from even considering going vegan.Read More
A relative, who has a five year old son, complained to me about a puppet show they had recently seen. It was supposed to be harmless children‘s entertainment, she said, but then the heedless puppets began a dialogue that was outrageous, completely inappropriate for children, according to her.Read More
As a vegan, I cannot buy most things. But I don‘t feel limited; I feel liberated. I may have lost the freedom to buy whatever I can afford, but I have gained another kind of freedom: freedom from many of the pressures of a materialistic society.Read More
Language is a powerful tool, and we use it to whitewash dirty realities. We‘d rather call a military attack a „surgical strike“ than choose a term more appropriate for the messy, bloody, unpredictable mayhem that is war. „Irreconcilable differences“ is a flattering phrase for the real-life disappointment and late-night fights of two people who used to love each other. Euphemisms step in whenever reality is too brutal for us to concede. It‘s no surprise that the exploitation and consumption of animals has created its fair share of them.Read More
Yesterday, I attended a wedding. And while this particular wedding was too big for anyone to confront me about the lack of food in front of me, I know from past experience that such confrontations usually turn into general aggression towards my veganism or into accusing me of being unappreciative of the buffet or demonstrative about my „ideology“ and just a general nuisance as a guest.
Vegan party guests have three options. But no matter which strategy they go for, they‘re judged.Read More
Have you ever noticed that the biggest compliment for vegan food is that it tastes just like the „real“ version?
When I make a cake that consists of a creamy white layer on top a crumbly brown base, people who like it say: „It tastes almost like real cheesecake.“ Vegan burgers are praised in the same way: „No one would know the difference.“ And about a salad of shredded pasta I once made, some generous man said: „It even has the consistency of egg salad!“Read More
Surveys regularly find that 10% of Germans are vegetarians. Given the statistics on rising meat consumption and my own experience of regularly being the only no-meat guest at gatherings, this number has always dumbfounded me. Where are these 8 million Germans that have supposedly given up animal flesh? Shouldn‘t I encounter a disproportionately high, not low, percentage of them, given that I live in a big city and know mostly university-educated people?Read More
Was anyone else disappointed by Steven Wise‘s interview on last night‘s Colbert Report?
I‘ve always been uneasy about Wise‘s approach to speciesism. Lawyer Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project are trying to attain legal personhood for chimpanzees. It‘s an exciting prospect, sure, but wouldn‘t this simply redraw the line of speciesism? Instead of advocating that another being‘s species must not be a category on which we base his right to life and physical liberty, Wise tries to pull other species over to the good side of speciesism, the side of the lucky ones.Read More
Everyone knows that farmed animals are killed, and if you‘re vegan you probably know how brutally. But observance trumps knowledge.
Last night, ARD, Germany‘s main public TV network, aired a documentary about piglet factories. I spent half the time with my head turned away from the screen, and my fingers pressed against my ear drums.Read More
The other day I told an acquaintance that I was a vegan, and she said: „Oh, how cute.“
As vegans, we‘re used to negative reactions. People call us arrogant and holier-than-thou. They accuse us of wasting our time on animals, when humans are still suffering, and of being a kill-joy. In the company of these sentiments, „cute“ seems like a compliment. But somehow it bothered me much more than the other, more openly negative comments I‘ve received. „Cute“ is disingenuous. „Cute“ is condescending. „Cute“ is dismissive.Read More
As a vegan, should I be supporting institutions that are not 100% vegan?
I‘m not talking about hunting clubs or the dairy lobby. The answer would be an easy no. I‘m talking about institutions that share some of my opinions on animals, but are not vegan. Let me give two examples.Read More
Expressions of compassion towards animals by the non-vegan media are rare. Bold vegan advocacy simply does not exist.
So imagine my astonishment when I came across a mousy-looking column on the last page of Schrot & Korn, a free, lightweight magazine you can pick up at most German organic grocery stores. I usually read it in the bathtub, where I take those papers I don‘t mind getting wet.Read More
I flew home to Berlin last week and was reminded that although airplane food for passengers with special dietary requirements has come a long way, on-ground confusion about veganism still complicates on-board vegan dining.
Airplane food is notorious for being a culinary letdown. As our sense of smell is numbed by the low humidity on board and our sense of taste by the high altitude, airlines‘ meals―pre-made with too much cooking time and too little love―taste even blander. But at least there is something to eat!Read More