Are You A Feminist? In That Case, You Really Should Consider Going Vegan

International Women's Day in March instigates a general questioning of the state of the world for women. But while we despair over the fact that, since the birth of International Women's Day at the beginning of the 20th century, we still have a long way to go towards true equality, we should consider extending our feminism to be more inclusive of our fellow females.

By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert. 

Feminism is the demand for equal rights – and at the very core of it is the call for and end to the exploitation of female bodies. This is a reality that many early-days feminists were aware of: many of the early 19th-century suffragettes were in fact ethical vegetarians and remained so even when imprisoned. A link between feminism and the rights of all females has always been part of the movement, even if on the fringes of it. And this isn't a wonder – surely a movement that stands up for equality should aim to defend the rights of all.

Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, coined the term "feminized protein" to mark the fact that eggs and dairy come from the enslavement of female bodies. The intersection between feminism and veganism starts at the ways animals are treated on the basis of their gender.

Sharon Co Unsplash

Cows are a perfect example of this - these animals endure continuous abuse just due to being female. Their reproductive system is routinely exploited: in the dairy industry, they are regularly forcibly impregnated without consent (which, can be argued, is paramount to sexual abuse - in fact, the equipment used for this procedure is often referred to in the industry as a "rape rack") in order for them to produce the milk that is so valuable to the industry. The milk meant for her baby is then sold to humans while the newborn calf is taken from the mother within days, sometimes hours, after birth. This causes immense distress to both the mother and the baby, causing them to cry for each other for days. The cycle is then repeated so that the mother can produce more milk. After her body is used up and spent, she is sent to slaughter.

Thomas Iversen

Eggs are another story of female exploitation. On the basis of being female, hens are forced to spend their entire lives on factory farms where they are subjected to starvation and light manipulation in order to increase their egg-laying frequency. Laying eggs is to a hen what menstruating and ovulation is to a human - imagine the strain it would take on a human's body if they were manipulated to keep menstruating and ovulating constantly. Furthermore, hens also have their babies taken from them: the bond between mother hen and her chick often begins before the egg is hatched, but on factory farms, fertilised eggs are often kept in an incubator rather than with the mother hen. Of course, male chicks suffer the flip-side of food-industry sexism: as they are male, and therefore useless to the egg trade, they are killed at birth.

Furthermore, there is an alarming link between the meat industry and violence against women. A study has shown that towns with slaughterhouses had higher numbers of violent crime and murder - but also domestic violence and rape. Research has also shown that over 70% of abused women have also reported that the attackers have shown violence towards animals, and 88% of homes where child abuse occurred also contained animal abuse. Cruelty to animals tends to escalate towards humans, and in many cases, those humans are women.

Knowing all this information, it should be easier to make the connection and realise that as we fight for gender equality and reproductive rights, it makes no sense to inflict gender-based suffering on females of other species. Natalie Portman has been quoted as saying, "“Dairy and eggs don’t just come from cows and chickens — they come from female cows and female chickens. … It doesn’t take a lot to draw the line from how we treat animals to how we treat humans.” When it comes to the capacity to suffer loss, to create family bonds, and to love our children, all sentient beings feel the same, no matter the species. We may be different, but in the ways that matter, we are all the same. So whether you'll be going to a protest this International Women's Day, celebrating Mother's Day on Sunday, or both, spare a thought for your fellow females and choose vegan.


By Sascha Camilli

About Sascha

Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her or listen to her podcast Catwalk Rebel. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cover image by Chuko Cribb. Second photo by Sharon Co. Third photo by Thomas Iversen, all via Unsplash.

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