Joining the dots: some reflections on feminist-Vegan political practice and choice

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Author: Angella Duvnjak
Date: May 2011
From: Outskirts: feminisms along the edge(Vol. 24)
Publisher: The University of Western Australia, Women's Studies
Document Type: Viewpoint essay
Length: 6,183 words

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Introduction: A Feminist-Vegan Journey

This paper has its roots in a very personal place for me. With this in mind, I would like to begin with my journey to 'here'. Shortly after beginning my undergraduate studies in the early 1990s I discovered feminism. It was a revelation to me. It 'fit'. It provided me with a framework with which to understand and explore much of my own experience up until then. This started me on a personal and intellectual journey that I continue on today. I quickly set about immersing myself in all things feminist. I joined 'women on campus', started attending the Network of Women Students in Australia (NOWSA) conferences and enrolled in a range of politics and women's studies courses in order to explore academic feminist thought.

I was also a vegetarian and had been since I was 12 years old. The inspiration for my twelve year old self had been the very 'wayward' Aunty of my best friend at the time who came to visit one weekend and spoke of being arrested protesting at a battery hen farm. I had no idea what a 'battery farm' was and, to be frank, what appealed to me most was that she was so different, so unlike the other 'adults', so unlike other women in my life at that time. I wanted to be like that. Shortly thereafter I came to befriend a calf at my grandparents' home in rural New South Wales. My (and many animals') fate was set: no more meat eating for me!

I was introduced to veganism, however, whilst attending my first ever feminist conference. Lining up for lunch I observed alongside the meals labeled 'vegetarian' was a whole selection labeled 'vegan'. This was before such 'options' were commonplace. I was curious and more than a little intrigued by the fact that so many of the women there seemed to bee-line for them. I spoke with one of the women over lunch and read a small booklet she gave me on animal rights. Shortly thereafter I became a vegan.

I soon discovered that it was no coincidence that I stumbled upon veganism at a feminist conference. Indeed, feminists had been thinking and writing about women, animals and the environment for many years. This included the work of feminist-vegetarian theorists such as Carol Adams' The Sexual Politics of Meat (1990) and Josephine Donovan's Animal Rights and Feminist Theory (1990) and eco-feminists such as Collard and Contrucci's Rape of the Wild (1988), and the work of many others including Vandana Shiva (1988) and Val Plumwood (1993).

Around about this time I wrote a piece in the Adelaide University student paper entitled 'Why feminists shouldn't eat meat'. This was promptly met with a 'women's right to choose' response from another (more influential) student feminist and I retreated into safer spaces to voice my feminist-vegan tendencies. I went on to co-found 'Students for Animal Liberation' at Adelaide University and whilst many feminists joined and were active in this group, there...

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Source Citation
Duvnjak, Angella. "Joining the dots: some reflections on feminist-Vegan political practice and choice." Outskirts: feminisms along the edge, vol. 24, May 2011. Accessed 27 Sept. 2021.
  

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