The Lives of Animals & Women are Connected

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This is my Great Dane Cooper. He’s 160 pounds and 22 months old. He’s chewed 2 pairs of booties (see pic below),IMG_20150105_152148 1 slipper, ate my entire winter squash dish, & ripped my winter coat (by accident, he says). He regularly steps on my toes and gives kisses all day long. He also adores and is adored by the whole family, especially my 3 year old daughter.

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I love animals. And I also want to empower women to have more control over their lives. How are these two connected?

I’m interested in exploring why we eat animals and actively disengage from the reality of factory farming and slaughterhouse abuses.

Why do people eat animals? Most people eat animals because: 

“I grew up on it”

-“Fear of change”

-“I’m used to it…it’s all I’ve ever known”

-“It’s just easier”

-“It’s more convenient”

-“I don’t have the social supports to change”

I argue that the lives of women & animals are interconnected. So while women may have internalized the message that they need to “lean in” to their careers (as per Sheryl Sandberg), they don’t quite know how to do it.

It’s essentially the same with eating animals….there is a growing awareness that you should “eat less red meat” or that perhaps animals don’t grow up on idyllic green pastures…..but people don’t know what to do about it.

I argue that just as women are not leaning into their careers, we’re not leaning into the food on our plates. Why do we know more about the Bachelor and who Taylor Swift is dating than we do the food on our plates?

Gender, animals & food.  Food is a very gendered thing. Women bare responsibility for the majority of all types of food prep (both mental & physical). Additionally, women hold a stupefying number of roles within the kitchen (cook, meal prep, recipe designer, grocery shopper, nutritionist, food allergy-preventer, dietitian, educator of fair trade, organics, & environmentally friendly products, etc.)  Now we’ve added an additional burden for animal ethics adviser.  IS this fair? Can we do it all?  How are women & animal cruelty connected?

Carnism.  Carnism is the reason we eat certain animals and avoid others. It’s why we wear cows but have Great Danes as pets. We all do it, even vegans. I’ll give you a personal example.  I’ve been vegan for almost 10 years. I’m 100% vegan with my diet, and about 90% vegan with my lifestyle. Meaning, I don’t wear wool, silk, cashmere, down….But, I wear leather shoes. Weird, right? Hypocritical, right?

The reason I can wear leather shoes has to do with carnism. It’s the deliberate act of denial and avoidance to justify my carnivore predilections. (Carnism is related to Melanie Joy’s work “Why we Love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows” ).  I love animals, but I also love fashion and like to look stylish. I have not been able to find fabulous footwear that’s vegan, so I employ carnism as a mindset, in order to buy and wear my leather shoes while still calling myself a vegan.                             Here is a picture of Cooper and I.

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Eating animals is a choice. Wearing animals is a choice. This choice stems from an ideology of oppression that conditions us to accept eating certain animals while avoiding others. There is a reason these Mercy for Animal videos aren’t widely disseminated….we were never supposed to see the inside of a factory farm, because this invisibility is part of the system of denial.

The Vegan Debate.  The vegan movement has unfortunately been split into an all or nothing debate…you either become vegan and eschew all animal products and by-products forever or you just continue eating animals.

As a vegan myself, I believe the answer lies somewhere in between. -We need to advocate a “vegan-ish” lifestyle.

Just because you can’t do everything, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. Just because you can’t convert 100% of your lifestyle to veganism, shouldn’t prevent you from leaning in to the vegan movement and being vegan-ish.

That would be silly. Just do something.

TIPS:  

  • Incorporate more vegan options in your life. (Less meat, more vegetables)
  • There are great non-leather handbag options. See Matt and Nat   Oh. My Goodness, BCBG has the best non-leather belts! BCBG Belts
  • Internalize and integrate the “lean in” message of speaking up, voicing your opinion, standing out.  Women have been conditioned to second guess their opinions….so that the next time the meat industry tells you eating animals is “necessary, normal or natural”, know that there are other options and they’re intimately tied to multiple systems of oppression.
  • Since women control the family meals…..we won’t change anything until we change women’s views on animals, and show them how integrated the systems of oppression are, both for animals and women.

OK, back to posts on leadership now!

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