when not a radical proposition…

I recently went to/participated in two (activist/academic and academic) conferences, and had some interesting conversations early on at the first of these reflecting on the state of activism around the animal question.

There was a pre-conference public lecture/pre-book launch for the former which had a recurring theme that a focus on the ‘production’ of animals as commodities was far more important-interesting than on consumption practices.

This theme came up in a conversation I had the today (during the first day of the activist/academic conference), with someone I respect who does quite a bit of grounded work for other animals. The conversation floated around, and interrogated our perception that there is an increasing mainstream-vegan emphasis on consumptive practices. In particular, Melbourne (where the conferences were being held) is becoming seen as/has become a vegan food mecca. Even further, it is expensive, boutique vegan foodstuffs like $27 sandwiches, that are being talked-raved about.

In all the talk about consumptive practices, what people are consuming, there is an apparent obviousness to the exclusivity of such items. One outcome is the perpetuation of an image of veganism as a bourgeois, mostly white thing. Another, is consumption being about identity. How people want to be seen, and how they can consume themselves into this image — an identity that is available to a select few, based on their disposable income.

This begs the question: how is this any different form other capitalist-consumptive practices?

Isn’t a critique of the use of animals supposed to be a radical proposition? Are such questions no rooted in a foundational and intersectional critique of the multiplicities of oppression?

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