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Here's Why Our Food Systems Are a Central Feminist Issue

July 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Melissa Kravitz, Independent Media Institute

Three out of four American vegans are women. So is food a feminist issue?

Seventy-four percent of American vegans are female, but is there any link between veganism and feminism? Superficially, one could look at decades of mass marketing meat, grills and other fire-and-flesh fueled products to men, infusing these inanimate culinary products with gender—but, speaking as a woman who loves steak (eating it, cooking it, all of it) and as a person with common sense, foods in and of themselves should not appeal to one gender identity or another. One could point to the surge of female-led steakhouses and butcher shops—like New York’s White Gold Butchers—as exemplary evidence that women of all kinds love meat, but veganism (for many) isn’t necessarily about a like or dislike of animal products. So why are three out of every four vegans female?

“For some feminists, especially those who might identify as ecofeminists, veganism is inextricably linked to feminism,” explains Deborah Cohan, associate professor of sociology at University of South Carolina-Beaufort. “From this perspective, the oppression of women is tied to other forms of oppression, particularly the abuse of the environment and non-human animals.”

Some of this ideology stems from Carol Adams’ 1990 landmark book, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, which links not eating animal products to opposing the patriarchy. “In the book, Adams makes the case that eating an animal for food involves first seeing the animal as an object, as something that is inferior and of little value and that this is a violent form of objectification, akin to how women are also objectified, sexualized, animalized, degraded, hurt and sometimes killed,” Cohan explains. “Feminists who are vegan generally regard their decisions around food to be a certain kind of protest and resistance to all forms of violence and cruelty.”

The concept of animal rights and environmental conservation also historically, and ideologically, overlaps. “Both the animal rights movement and the environmental movement were established by women who strategically employed stereotypes about women’s proper role in nurturing and caring,” explains sociologist Corey Lee …read more


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