We live in a world where sexuality and food preferences are often just assumed to reflect the norm. Hence, both vegan and queer-identifying individuals have to declare their preference to the world. Public ridicule and being treated as an outcast are just the onset hurdles. The real challenge is dealing with the aftermath.
Today, even as the world grows into a slightly more welcoming place, accepting and even celebrating our queerness, most of us still experience bullying and oppression of some kind. So, being part of a suppressed minority shouldn’t we empathize with other repressed beings?
In a Pride month interview with VegNews, Dan Hanley, the founder of the blog The Gay Vegans, explains it succinctly. “Both fall into our goal of making the world a better place for all living beings. I believe that injustice is injustice, regardless of the community it affects or how voiceless the affected community is.” In the same interview, Jasmine Singer, co-founder of Our Hen House, also makes a strong point. “I believe that the fundamental connection between gay rights and animal rights, as well as countless other rights movements, is the mindset of the oppressor, which is always based in the thought that, ‘I am better and more important than they are.”
While we are in no way suggesting that being queer or vegan is the same, but they do cross paths in certain ways.
Explaining to your family or friends in-length how you feel, trying to make people see the world in a different light than what they’re used to. Constantly being the butt of jokes and having almost zero to no public places where we feel welcome. And the similarities don’t end there. Just as society discriminates against homosexuals from heterosexuals, society also discriminates between animals. Exactly how heterosexism ranks queer minorities as second-class citizens with regards to civil rights, speciesism grades non-human animals like pigs and chicken way below than human-animals like dogs, cats, etc.
We can rationalize as much we want about how animals and humans are different but there are certain things we can’t deny - like animals have an emotional and physical life not so different from us.
Economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin explains, “When we talk about building an empathic civilization, we’re talking about the ability of human beings to show solidarity, not only with each other but with our fellow creatures.” This line of thought emphasizes that maybe all social-justice movements (those intended to spread empathy towards the oppressed) are interconnected. And as a part of a minority maybe it’s time that we widen our circle of compassion towards animals.
Speciesism, sexism, gender bias, racism, or any kind of discrimination shows a lack of empathy from our end. If we support one repressed community, shouldn’t we support all?