The Amazon fires need a mature approach, not vegan populism

This post is also available in: elΕλληνικα (Greek)

This is a repost of Brenda Sanders’ Facebook post.

Dear Vegans,

It’s my unpopular opinion that when the news broke about the fires burning in the Amazon, we should have collectively expressed concern for the Indigenous rainforest dwellers of Brazil and stood in solidarity with their fight against corporate greed and colonization.

For those of us who include animals in our analysis of oppression and exploitation, we should have been calling attention to the millions of wild rainforest dwelling animals who are being burned alive and losing their habitat due to these fires that are being deliberately and maliciously set to grab land from Indigenous people.

What we should NOT have been doing is using the Brazilian rainforest fires as an opportunity to make a bunch of “we told you so” posts or to push our agenda to get people to join Vegan Club.

Numerous stories and videos have recently circulated about rainforest dwellers who’ve been fighting for their lives and for their land for decades against these agribusinesses forcing them out of their ancestral homes. Instead of immediately pushing our agenda, our first thought should have been, “What can we do to support these people already on the ground fighting to save the rainforest?” NOT “Now maybe people will finally go vegan.”

That response was opportunistic, selfish and quite frankly not very well thought out because people saw right through it and were understandably disgusted. For those of us who are working to present veganism as a viable solution to issues plaguing marginalized communities (racist food systems, environmental racism, health disparities), I’ve been dismayed to see how all the social media posts, articles and think pieces put out by vegans (basically telling people the fires are their fault because they’re not vegan) have eroded the trust that’s been painstakingly established by vegan activists doing this work on the ground.

I want to get people to divest from the animal-based food system as much as the next vegan activist. I see it as an inherently violent system that exploits every single being in its path – from the animals whose bodies are being commodified, to the factory farm/slaughterhouse workers who are being exploited for this psychologically damaging labor, to the communities of color that are being polluted by animal farming operations and those whose health is being compromised by eating animal products.

I hate every single thing about the animal-based food system and I plan to do everything in my power until the day I die to see it dismantled.

But I also want to see capitalism, colonization, the prison industrial complex, the war machine, and so many other exploitative and oppressive systems dismantled as well and I can say with certainty that we need far more complex solutions than “Go Vegan!!” to address the multitude of injustices currently being committed by those in power.

Vegans are going to have to integrate into the justice community in order for any real change to take place, and we’ll never be able to do that if we continue to pull stunts like co-opting the tragedy in the Amazon to push the vegan agenda as if cattle and soy farming are the only issues that matter to the people in that region. Most of us don’t even know what issues are important to the people of that region or how we can be of assistance to them as they fight to save the rainforest because we don’t care enough about other issues to bother to find out.

We need to do better.


A Black Vegan Activist Whose Work Is Constantly Compromised By Yall’s Vegan Foolishment

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