Hi, I'm Angi
Welcome to my corner of the internet! My passions include travel, photography, books, music, Japanese language and culture, Italian language and culture, and art.

Here at Abbott Lane you'll find my thoughts on these topics and much more. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Vegan AF?: Reflections on 6 Months of Veganism

I'll be real - I’m proooooobably not vegan as fuck. I’m not even sure what that means, but I've been seeing it around the interwebz a lot lately. Is there some Scale of Veganism with a range that begins at Drops Live Animals Into One’s Bloody Gaping Maw Wholesale With Impunity, and ends at Vegan AF? If I want to be a Good Vegan, am I doing it right? Am I doing ENOUGH?  I’m now a little past the sixth month mark as a vegan, and these are the questions that - at times - haunt me. My guess is that they'll never cease to nag me.

I’ve made decent strides with my veganism, practically speaking. My diet and the large majority of my cosmetics and grooming supplies - from mascara, to shower gel, to toothpaste - are now cruelty-free. But I still wear a pair of leather ankle boots and a down coat, both of them hold overs from my pre-vegan days. I’m not the type to waste perfectly good, usable things, especially when the weather here still hasn't *quite* settled into Spring, so these items will remain with me until the end of the season when they’re ready to be donated or discarded and I can find suitable replacements. On this front, I feel like I've done pretty well overall (though if anyone can recommend a vegan lip balm that actually works as well as Carmex did for me, I'll be forever in your debt!).

Conceptually, however, my veganism has a long way to go. I’ve been truly excited by the Black Vegan movement, and this - ideologically - feels like MY veganism. It’s rooted in Blackness, and seeks to uplift and liberate the community along with and in addition to other beings. This is a distinct departure from mainstream veganism, with its sole concern for non-human animals, often described as “those with no voice.” Let me gently suggest that if you don’t recognize the numerous human animals walking around on this planet who also don’t have a voice, and who are also abused and oppressed, and who have also not given consent to the exploitation of their bodies and lives, then your brand of veganism is - sorry to say - deeply rooted in the Murky Swamp of White Supremacy (...remember the swamps of Sadness in Neverending Story? Where Atreyu’s horse Artax drowned in that excruciating scene you always fast-forwarded through because, as a kid, the existential horror of it all was much too much for your tiny and impressionable brain? Yeah, the Murky Swamp of White Supremacy looks, and smells, just like that).

POC and Black-led veganism is intersectional, and looks critically at how oppression functions in relationship with all beings, not just animals. This feels right to me, but it can also often feel overwhelming and like Too Much. It’s so much easier to treat veganism as just an animal issue, to zero the focus in on that one single element of oppression. But this is idealist at best and a form of violence at worst. Animal welfare is a feminist issue; the construct of animality is a supremacist issue; taking care of myself and my health through diet as a Black Woman is an act of resistance; access to vegan food is a class issue; being 100% and rigidly anti-animal testing is a form of ableist privilege...I could go on and on, but the complexities of how oppression and power function and who they impact are real and warrant deeper self-reflection.

This is the easy part for me to wrap my brain around - the theoretical knowledge that the what, how, and whys of oppression and supremacy - whether it’s racist, speciest, ableist, classist, misogynist, heteronormative, or etc etc in action - is a muti-faceted issue and that everything is intertwined. The difficult part is being cognizant of all of those issues in my personal life and living my values in the best way I feasibly can in a world that's often upside down: things like avoiding slave sourced chocolate, learning about how my diet impacts farm workers, thinking more about food access in less privileged communities, considering the mental health impact of slaughterhouses on their workers, making sustainable clothing choices, etc etc etc. There’s so much that it makes my head spin; it’s an endless rabbit hole. But it’s important to listen and learn and to continue to do the work as best I can. There’s always room to learn and grow and change, and I’m humbled and honored by the folks who take the time to gather this info and pass it on.

At the end of the day, I’ll never be perfect. Vegan AF? Maybe? Eventually? But for me veganism is not about being perfect, or about being able to declare myself Vegan AF. It’s about being committed to less suffering, learning more about how I can do better, then putting those ideas into practice to the best of my abilities. It’s about compassion for animals and humans and the planet, and about recognizing the interrelationships between all things.

Interested in learning more about the important work Black and POC vegans are putting in? Here are some good places to start:

The Food Empowerment Project

Aph Ko/Black Vegans Rock

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Vegans for Consistent Anti-Oppression

Veganism of Color