The sad and meager existence of a dairy cow can be summed up quite easily: a perpetual cycle of forced impregnations, followed by births (which result in babies being taken away), and constant, constant milking. Without a doubt, the animal agriculture industry is built on the exploitation of the female reproductive system.
Thankfully, intersectionality has bred the notion that all oppressed groups are intertwined. As a result, more and more feminists and social justice advocates are incorporating the highly marginalized group of nonhuman animals in their fight for equality.
With the most appropriate theme of “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” for 2019’s International Women’s Day — what better way to commemorate the special observance (celebrated annually on March 8!) than by highlighting phenomenal vegan women who are working to eradicate inequality for *all* species?! Here are three vegan women that I personally find most inspiring for their work in paving the way for justice for all!
1. Angela Davis
One of the most prominent faces of the civil rights movement, renowned scholar, author, professor, and activist Angela Davis championed fundamental human rights issues like women’s equality, the eradication of racism, and economic justice for all. Davis also recognized the explicit connection between the oppression of humans and the oppression of animals and became vegan in order to help promote animal liberation by challenging modern-day food production.
At the 27th Empowering Women of Color Conference, Davis said: “I usually don’t mention that I’m vegan but that has evolved and I think it’s the right moment to talk about it because I think it is a part of a revolutionary perspective. How can we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings but how can we develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with which we share this planet? And that would mean challenging the whole capitalist industrial form of food production. Most people don’t think about the horrendous suffering that those animals must endure simply to become food products to be consumed by human beings.”
2. Sowmya Reddy
In 2018, environmental and human rights activist Sowmya Reddy became the first female legislator to ever be elected in Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore), the capital city of Karnataka, India. Her election victory also made her the youngest MLA-elect in the capital (she was 35-years-young at the time!) *and* the first (and only, thus far) vegan to be elected!
In 2014, Reddy founded Paradigm Shift, an activist center and vegan restaurant that cultivates empowerment for marginalized groups through “words, art, food, activism, education, and community” via workshops, panel discussions, and screenings centered around social justice issues.
3. Aph Ko
Co-author of Aprho-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters — which examines emerging theoretical frameworks on feminism, race, and advocacy for nonhuman animals — and founder of Black Vegans Rock, Aph Ko is a leading voice for the Black vegan community.
In an open letter, Aph Ko explained her position on intersectionality, closely mirroring Angela Davis’ thoughts on capitalism and oppression: “The position that non-human animals occupy in our cultural imagination is proof for how easy it is to accept the lower status of some beings without even a second thought. I would assume this should be concerning […], especially since feminism is all about fighting for the rights of the minoritized and powerless. [I]ncorporating animal bodies into your activism isn’t a distraction from anti-racism or sexism—it’s an extension of the conversation because in reality we’re not just talking about white supremacy and patriarchy. We’re talking about capitalism and other discriminatory systems of domination that operate off of exploitation.”
What vegan feminists do you draw inspiration from?
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Photo: Angela Davis, Sowmya Reddy, Aph Ko