Vegan studies is the study, within the humanities and social sciences, of veganism as an identity and ideology, and the exploration of its depiction in literature, the arts, popular culture, and the media.In a narrower use of the term, it seeks to establish veganism as a "mode of thinking and writing", a "means of critique", and "a new lens for ecocritical textual analysis". Vegan studies is closely related to critical animal studies.
Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are more frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social sciences, as well as professional training.
Social science is a category of academic disciplines concerned with society and the relationships among individuals within a society. The disciplines include, but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, communication studies, economics, folkloristics, history, musicology, human geography, jurisprudence, linguistics, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. The term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to the field of sociology, the original "science of society", established in the 19th century. For a more detailed list of sub-disciplines within the social sciences see: Outline of social science.
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan. Distinctions may be made between several categories of veganism. Dietary vegans refrain from consuming meat, eggs, dairy products, and any other animal-derived substances. An ethical vegan is someone who not only follows a vegan diet but extends the philosophy into other areas of their lives, and opposes the use of animals for any purpose. Another term is "environmental veganism", which refers to the avoidance of animal products on the premise that the industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
Working within a variety of disciplines,scholars in the field discuss issues such as the commodity status of animals; carnism; veganism and ecofeminism; veganism and race; varieties of veganism; and the effect of animal farming on climate change. Because the field is new, its parameters are unclear; vegan studies or vegan theory can be informed by animal studies, critical race theory, environmental studies and ecocriticism, feminist theory, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and queer theory, incorporating a range of empirical and non-empirical research methodologies.
The commodity status of animals refers to the legal status as property of most non-human animals, particularly farmed animals, working animals and animals in sport, and their use as objects of trade. In the United States, Free-roaming animals are (broadly) held in trust by the state; only if captured can be claimed as personal property.
Carnism is a concept used in discussions of humanity's relation to other animals, defined as a prevailing ideology in which people support the use and consumption of animal products, especially meat. Carnism is presented as a dominant belief system supported by a variety of defense mechanisms and mostly unchallenged assumptions. The term carnism was coined by social psychologist and author Melanie Joy in 2001 and popularized by her book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows (2009).
Ecofeminism is a branch of feminism that sees environmentalism, and the relationship between women and the earth, as foundational to its analysis and practice. Ecofeminist thinkers draw on the concept of gender to analyse the relationships between humans and the natural world. The term was coined by the French writer Françoise d'Eaubonne in her book Le Féminisme ou la Mort (1974). Ecofeminist theory asserts that a feminist perspective of ecology does not place women in the dominant position of power, but rather calls for an egalitarian, collaborative society in which there is no one dominant group. Today, there are several branches of ecofeminism, with varying approaches and analyses, including liberal ecofeminism, spiritual/cultural ecofeminism, and social/socialist ecofeminism. Interpretations of ecofeminism and how it might be applied to social thought include ecofeminist art, social justice and political philosophy, religion, contemporary feminism, and poetry.
Donald Watson, secretary of the British Vegetarian Society's Leicester branch, coined the term vegan in 1944, when he created the Vegan News for strict vegetarians who would not eat any animal products.Several works of philosophy and ecofeminism in the 1970s and 1980s—including Peter Singer's Animal Liberation (1975); Carolyn Merchant's The Death of Nature (1980); and Tom Regan's The Case for Animal Rights (1983)—helped to trigger what became known as the "animal turn" in the humanities and social sciences, an increased interest in human–nonhuman relations and to some extent a paradigm shift in how that relationship was discussed.
Donald Watson was an English animal rights advocate who founded the Vegan Society.
The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom is a British registered charity which was established on 30 September 1847 to promote vegetarianism.
The Vegan Society is a registered charity and the oldest vegan society in the world, founded in the United Kingdom in November 1944 by Donald Watson, Elsie "Sally" Shrigley, and 23 others.
The period led to the development of human–animal studies (also known as animal studies),the study of how humans and nonhumans interact, how humans have classified other animals, and what that social construction means. It also led, in the early 2000s, to the development of critical animal studies (CAS), an academic field dedicated to studying and ending the exploitation of animals. Named in 2007, CAS grew directly out of the animal liberation movement, linking "activism, academia and animal suffering". Veganism is described as "a baseline for CAS praxis". Criticizing human–animal studies as anthropocentric, and aiming for "total liberation" (including of humans), CAS scholars declared themselves committed to the "abolition of animal and ecological exploitation".
Animal studies is a recently recognised field in which animals are studied in a variety of cross-disciplinary ways. Scholars who engage in animal studies may be formally trained in a number of diverse fields, including geography, art history, anthropology, biology, film studies, geography, history, psychology, literary studies, museology, philosophy, communication, and sociology. They may engage with questions about literal animals, or about notions of "animality" or "brutality," employing various theoretical perspectives, including feminism, Marxist theory, and queer theory. Using these perspectives, those who engage in animal studies seek to understand both human-animal relations now and in the past, and to understand animals as beings-in-themselves, separate from our knowledge of them. Because the field is still developing, scholars and others have some freedom to define their own criteria about what issues may structure the field.
Critical animal studies (CAS) is an interdisciplinary scientific field and theory-to-activism global community, which originated at the beginning of the 21st century. The core interest of CAS is ethical reflection on relations between people and other animals, firmly grounded in intersectionality and anarchism. Its aim is to integrate academic research with political engagement and activism. As it overlaps with a number of other disciplines, CAS includes scholars from a diverse range of fields, as well as animal rights activists.
The animal rights movement, sometimes called the animal liberation movement, animal personhood, or animal advocacy movement, is a social movement which seeks an end to the rigid moral and legal distinction drawn between human and non-human animals, an end to the status of animals as property, and an end to their use in the research, food, clothing, and entertainment industries.
In the 1990s and 2000s, several works informed the later development of vegan studies.Described as one of the field's foundational texts, Carol J. Adams's The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (1990) linked vegetarianism directly to feminism. She argued that "the killing of animals for food is a feminist issue that feminists have failed to claim". Other works that influenced vegan studies include Nick Fiddes's Meat: A Natural Symbol (1992); Colin Spencer's The Heretic's Feast (1996); Tristram Stuart's The Bloodless Revolution (2006); and Rod Preece's Sins of the Flesh (2008).
Carol J. Adams is an American writer, feminist, and animal rights advocate. She is the author of several books, including The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (1990) and The Pornography of Meat (2004), focusing in particular on what she argues are the links between the oppression of women and that of non-human animals. She was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Sexual Politics of Meat is a 1990 book written by Carol J. Adams, in which she develops her Vegetarian-Feminist, Pacifist, intersectional critical theory. The book was first written as an essay for a college course taught by Mary Daly and includes material such as interviews from vegetarian feminists in the Boston-Cambridge area. The Sexual Politics of Meat has been translated into nine languages and re-published for its 25th anniversary edition as a part of the Bloomsbury Revelations series.
Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat, and may also include abstention from by-products of animals processed for food.
In December 2013, in the journal PhaenEx, media scholar Eva Giraud discussed the relationship of veganism to animal studies, ecofeminism and posthumanism.Academic work on veganism appeared in Nick Taylor and Richard Twine's 2014 collection, The Rise of Critical Animal Studies, and in December that year, Emilia Quinn and Benjamin Westwood addressed a workshop at the University of York, organized by the art historian Jason Edwards, to discuss "the fast developing field of vegan theory".
Posthumanism or post-humanism is a term with at least seven definitions according to philosopher Francesca Ferrando:
An edited volume or edited collection is a collection of scholarly or scientific chapters written by different authors. The chapters in an edited volume are original works.
The University of York is a collegiate plate glass research university, located in the city of York, England. Established in 1963, the campus university has expanded to more than thirty departments and centres, covering a wide range of subjects.
Quinn and Westwood write that veganism's "entry into the academy" began around 2010.Shortly after the publication that year of her collection Sistah Vegan, A. Breeze Harper announced a new "critical race and veg*n studies intersect" research group on her website, The Sistah Vegan Project, and was working on "applications of critical race and black feminist studies to vegan studies in the US". Also in 2010, the Journal for Critical Animal Studies published an edition devoted to the perspectives of women of color, which had been "eerily absent from critical animal studies and vegan studies in general". They included an essay by Harper, "Race as a 'Feeble Matter' in Veganism".
Vegan studies was proposed as a new academic field by Laura Wright, professor of English at Western Carolina University, in October 2015 in her book The Vegan Studies Project: Food, Animals, and Gender in the Age of Terror,described as the "first major academic monograph in the humanities focused on veganism". Wright's work was prompted by research for her doctoral dissertation into J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace (1999) and The Lives of Animals (1999), and was further influenced by Adams's The Sexual Politics of Meat. Wright frames vegan studies as "inherently ecofeminist", according to Caitlin E. Stobie.
In 2016 the French scholar Renan Larue, author of Le végétarisme et ses ennemis: Vingt-cinq siècles de débats (2015), began teaching a vegan studies course at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Reportedly the first such course in the United States, it has explored animal ethics, pathocentrism, Melanie Joy's concept of carnism, Peter Singer's utilitarianism, Tom Regan's and Gary Francione's rights-based approach, Marti Kheel's ecofeminism, and Carol J. Adams's ethics of care.
In May 2016 Quinn and Westwood organized a conference at Wolfson College, Oxford, Towards a Vegan Theory, at which Wright gave the keynote address.Other works in vegan studies followed, including a 2016 collection, Critical Perspectives on Veganism, published by Palgrave Macmillan and edited by Jodey Castricano and Rasmus R. Simonsen; a special cluster in the journal ISLE in December 2017; a 2018 collection edited by Quinn and Woodward, Thinking Veganism in Literature and Culture, based on the Oxford conference and also published by Palgrave Macmillan; and a 2019 collection, Through a Vegan Studies Lens: Textual Ethics and Lived Activism, published by University of Nevada Press and edited by Wright.
In 2016 Melanie Joy and Jens Tuider called vegan studies a "field of research whose time has come". It establishes veganism as an academic topic; gathers research on veganism, the history of veganism, and carnism; examines veganism's ethical, political and cultural basis and repercussions;and explores how vegan identity is presented in literature, the arts, film, popular culture, advertising and the media. Adams wrote that vegan studies examines "the vegan phobic, the vegan deniers, the nonvegan 'vegan', the problematic 'hegan,' the feminist vegan, the animal activist vegan". According to another description, it highlights the "oppositional role played by veganism towards ideologies that legitimate oppression". Writing in 2018, the philosopher Josh Milburn remained unconvinced that there was a literature about veganism "sufficiently unified to be labeled a new discipline".
According to Wright, vegan studies is a "lived and embodied ethic"providing "a new lens for ecocritical textual analysis". Vegan studies scholars examine texts "via an intersectional lens of veganism" to explore the relationship of humans to their food sources and the environment. In Wright's view, the vegan body and vegan identity "constitute a performative project and an entity in a state of perpetual transformation".
Wright offers as an example of a vegan studies analysis a 2018 article by Stobie in ISLE about The Vegetarian by Han Kang, winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize: "Rather than read protagonist Yeong-hye's plight as the result of illogical mental illness, Stobie reads her character's actions—to eschew eating meat to the point of starvation, even when members of her family try to force feed it to her—as a posthumanist performance of vegan praxis dependent upon inarticulable trauma and the desire for intersectional and interspecies connection."
Another example is Sara Salih's account, in Quinn and Westwood's 2018 collection, of "three scenes of failed witness", including when she left a formal lunch in tears when the chicken dish arrived, and when she and others stood staring (pointlessly, she felt at the time) at slaughterhouse workers using electric prods to push pigs off a lorry. Salih argues that there is in fact an ethical purpose to witnessing such acts. The witnessing outside the slaughterhouse was a performative act, an "illegal act un-sanctioning", directed at the workers. ... when faced with a scoopful of kibble." Nevertheless she advises: "Look as closely as you can at your bowl or the neighbour's bowl or the cat's bowl, bear witness, and then decide whether the current norms of logic or rationality possess any moral validity."At the same time as asking these questions, Salih was feeding standard cat food to seven cats. "Why", she asks Derrida, who wrote about his cat in The Animal That Therefore I Am (2008), "have you chosen to turn towards this animal rather than that one?" She suggests that the scale of suffering makes "[o]ur imaginations baulk"; it seems absurd to understand that "we are in the presence of the dead
Almiron, Cole and Freeman write that vegan studies and critical animal studies (CAS) share common roots as "related branches in the evolution of critical approaches to human domination".Wright views vegan studies as "informed by and divergent from" animal studies, including critical animal studies. According to Larue, vegan studies is "both narrower and broader than animal studies". It intersects with critical animal studies but encompasses fields such as environmental studies and nutrition, which play an important role in the way veganism has been perceived, promoted, or criticized in the last few decades and today."
According to Alex Lockwood of the University of Sunderland, vegan studies offers a "radical and more coherent way of ensuring the present experiences of all beings are taken into account when examining the ways in which discourse shapes power".It "engages a lived politics" of empathy and care, as Wright describes it.
Anthrozoology is the subset of ethnobiology that deals with interactions between humans and other animals. It is an interdisciplinary field that overlaps with other disciplines including anthropology, ethnology, medicine, psychology, veterinary medicine and zoology. A major focus of anthrozoologic research is the quantifying of the positive effects of human-animal relationships on either party and the study of their interactions. It includes scholars from fields such as anthropology, sociology, biology, history and philosophy.
The anarchist philosophical and political movement has some connections to elements of the animal liberation movement. Many anarchists are vegetarian or vegan and have played a role in combating perceived injustices against animals. They usually describe the struggle for the liberation of non-human animals as a natural outgrowth of the struggle for human freedom.
Women have played a central role in animal advocacy since the 19th century. The animal advocacy movement – embracing animal rights, animal welfare, and anti-vivisectionism – has been disproportionately initiated and led by women, particularly in the United Kingdom. Women are more likely to support animal rights than men. A 1996 study of adolescents by Linda Pifer suggested that factors that may partially explain this discrepancy include attitudes towards feminism and science, scientific literacy, and the presence of a greater emphasis on "nurturance or compassion" amongst women. Although vegetarianism does not necessarily imply animal advocacy, a 1992 market research study conducted by the Yankelovich research organization concluded that "of the 12.4 million people [in the US] who call themselves vegetarian, 68% are female, while only 32% are male".
Roger Yates is an English lecturer in sociology at University College Dublin and the University of Wales, specialising in animal rights. He is a former executive committee member of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a former Animal Liberation Front (ALF) press officer, and a co-founder of the Fur Action Group.
Joan Dunayer is a writer, editor, and animal rights advocate. She is the author of two books, Animal Equality (2001) and Speciesism (2004).
Alice Crary is an American philosopher who is University Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Faculty, The New School for Social Research in New York City and was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford (2018-19). She was the New School's Philosophy Department Chair 2014-2017 and founding Co-Chair of its Gender and Sexuality Studies program. For the academic year 2017-2018, she was a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In the summer 2018 she was LFUI-Wittgenstein Guest Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory is a 2010 textbook by the British political theorist Alasdair Cochrane. It is the first book in the publisher Palgrave Macmillan's Animal Ethics Series, edited by Andrew Linzey and Priscilla Cohn. Cochrane's book examines five schools of political theory—utilitarianism, liberalism, communitarianism, Marxism and feminism—and their respective relationships with questions concerning animal rights and the political status of (non-human) animals. Cochrane concludes that each tradition has something to offer to these issues, but ultimately presents his own account of interest-based animal rights as preferable to any. His account, though drawing from all examined traditions, builds primarily upon liberalism and utilitarianism.
Alasdair Cochrane is a British political theorist and ethicist who is currently a senior lecturer in political theory in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield. He is known for his work on animal rights from the perspective of political theory, which is the subject of his two books: An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory and Animal Rights Without Liberation. His third book, Sentienist Politics, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018. He is a founding member of the Centre for Animals and Social Justice, a UK-based think tank focussed on furthering the social and political status of nonhuman animals. He joined the Department at Sheffield in 2012, having previously been a faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London School of Economics.
Animal Rights Without Liberation: Applied Ethics and Human Obligations is a 2012 book by the British political theorist Alasdair Cochrane, in which it is argued that animal rights philosophy can be decoupled from animal liberation philosophy by the adoption of the interest-based rights approach. Cochrane, arguing that there is no reason that (nonhuman) animals should be excluded from justice, adopts Joseph Raz's account of interest rights and extends it to include animals. He argues that sentient animals possess a right not to be made to suffer and a right not to be killed, but not a right to freedom. The book's chapters apply Cochrane's account to a number of interactions between humans and animals; first animal experimentation, then animal agriculture, the genetic engineering of animals, the use of animals in entertainment and sport, the relationship of animals to environmental practices and the use of animals in cultural practices.
Siobhan O'Sullivan is an Australian political scientist and political theorist who is currently a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales. Her research has focused, among other things, on animal welfare policy and the welfare state. She is the author of Animals, Equality and Democracy and a coauthor of Getting Welfare to Work. She co-edited Contracting-out Welfare Services and The Political Turn in Animal Ethics. She produces a regular podcast entitled Knowing Animals.
Political Animals and Animal Politics is a 2014 edited collection published by Palgrave Macmillan and edited by the green political theorists Marcel Wissenburg and David Schlosberg. The work addresses the emergence of academic animal ethics informed by political philosophy as opposed to moral philosophy. It was the first edited collection to be published on the topic, and the first book-length attempt to explore the breadth and boundaries of the literature. As well as a substantial introduction by the editors, it features ten sole-authored chapters split over three parts, respectively concerning institutional change for animals, the relationship between animal ethics and ecologism, and real-world laws made for the benefit of animals. The book's contributors were Wissenburg, Schlosberg, Manuel Arias-Maldonado, Chad Flanders, Christie Smith, Clemens Driessen, Simon Otjes, Kurtis Boyer, Per-Anders Svärd, and Mihnea Tanasescu. The focus of their individual chapters varies, but recurring features include discussions of human exceptionalism, exploration of ways that animal issues are or could be present in political discourse, and reflections on the relationship between theory and practice in politics.
Amie "Breeze" Harper is an African-American critical race feminist, diversity strategist, and author of books and studies on veganism and racism. Her Sistah Vegan anthology features a collection of writings by black female vegans.
Vegaphobia is an aversion to vegetarian and vegan people. It is in the 21st century that it began to frame the phenomenon in the sociological sphere and makes its appearance "vegaphobia". In 2007, a survey called "Vegaphobia: disproportionate talk about veganism in British national newspapers" took place in the United Kingdom, which examined 397 articles containing the terms "vegan", "vegans" and "veganism". The researchers found that 74.3% of the items are classified as "negatives"; 20.2% "neutral" and only 5.5% "positive". Negative items were in order of frequency: ridiculing veganism; characterize veganism as asceticism; affirming that veganism is difficult or impossible to sustain; describe veganism as a fashion; portray vegans as sentimentalists; defining vegans as hostile.
Animal industrial complex (AIC) is the accumulation of interests responsible for institutionalized exploitation of non-human animals. It entirely differs from individual acts of animal cruelty in that it is an institutionalized animal exploitation. It is one of the main topics of critical animal studies.
Laura Wright is a professor of English at Western Carolina University. Wright proposed 'vegan studies' as a new academic field, and her book The Vegan Studies Project: Food, Animals, and Gender in the Age of Terror (2015) served as the foundational text of the discipline.