Beans and Rice are Vegan

Photo by Geoff Peters from Vancouver, BC, Canada

It seems that everyone today is going vegan. Whenever anyone turns around, a new vegan restaurant is opening and even Jaden Smith launched a vegan food trailer to serve the homeless population in Los Angeles. Many vegan people are also doing their level best to shame anyone who consumes meat or cheese, which changes veganism from a dietary choice to a moral choice, not unlike the fastfood conversation. However, many people forget that the first diets were heavy neither in meat nor cheese. As a matter of fact, heavy meat and/or cheese consumption was limited to the wealthy before industrialization. The people not eating a great deal of meat or cheese simply were not parts of the dominant narrative, so their lifestyles and diets were deemed primitive and unrefined.

One of the biggest arguments for veganism is the environmental impact, which cannot be understated. Because of big agriculture and globalization, food is produced at a level for everyone to consume large meals at every sitting, contribution to massive food waste. The environment is the most important cause to champion, and as more people have become involved, more companies are developing with biodegradable products and less plastic packaging. Like the food, environmentalists smirk at those who still carry plastic bags or buy single-use items. Again, what is not discussed at those self-congratulatory forums and conferences is that the people who were most affected by environmental degradation had been advocating for better practices for decades. So many of the environmental activists have successfully avoided the consequences of what the marginalized have endured for centuries.

Most importantly, socialism has, again, graced the covers of multiple publications and is making the rounds. Because the United States–among other countries–are supposed to be capitalist, there has been an ideological battle between those who are acknowledging that inequity has gotten too great for society to bear versus those who still attribute poverty to personal responsibility. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels have been hailed as all but patron saints among those who compete for who can adhere most to their practices. Not surprisingly, history has been rewritten to exclude all of the Indigenous populations across the globe which had nomadic and communal societies that were not capitalistic in behavior which lasted for centuries.

My point in highlighting all of this is not to shame any of the movements; quite the contrary. Rather than assuming that any of these current efforts are the first of their kind, it is crucial to understand the motivation. People sound disingenuous when there is no self-awareness that activism has always been present in one form or another, especially on issues that effect marginalized populations. Colonialism of the mind is the biggest hurdle of societal justice, and without intersectional work, all of these movements will, again, pass out of the public eye.

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