No, White Nationalists Are Not True Vegans

Can white nationalists who adopt a plant-based diet as part of their “Blood and Soil” ideology claim to be true vegans?

A recent Vice article details the surprising emergence of plant-based diets among white nationalists andáexploresáwhy this trend is on the rise. Entitled “Why So Many White Supremacists Are into Veganism,” the article notes:

By romanticizing white people’s inherent connection to the land and nature, “blood and soil” also underscores notions of racial purity and nobility. Dietary commitments, then, become a means to prove one’s racial superiority.

Vice describesáhow Greek nationaláSavitri Devi popularized — and arguably perverted — the ideaáthat ethical vegetarianism should be tied to Aryan purity.

Andáthis supposed version of ethical veganism might continue to provide a gateway for those on the far right.áFor instance, white nationalists wishing to eschew the traditional agricultural industryáhave previously created independent compounds to grow their own produce.

Apparently for vegan white supremacists,áthere’s nothing inherently incongruous between believing in doing as little harm to animals as possible and carrying racial prejudices. After all, if you believe, as many white nationalists do, that America belongs to the white, then in the end animals on that land may be part of your heritage and your property, which you would seek to protect. This is wrong on several counts, but the thinking is relatively straightforward.

The article finishes with a firm and admirable caveat:

White nationalist veganism can sound somewhat absurd, but it also shows how complex and deeply rooted this ideology is, and how it can appeal to a variety of different audiences. To combat these racist movements, we must understand them, including how they can incorporate beliefs we usually associate with liberal or leftist politics. The diversity of this movement should not be underestimated.

Clearly, this articleábrings a troublingáissue to our attention:áthe potential for veganismáto be co-opted andátransformed by other ideologies.

Veganism means non-violence to all

If there is one perceptible oversight in the Vice article, it is a failure to examine the disconnect between true vegan ideology and the far right’s attempts to co-opt plant-based diets.

In truth, veganism as an ethical model must stand on the shoulders of non-violence to all.

The Vegan Society’s Memorandum and Articles of Association, its 1979 founding documents,ádescribe veganism as:

A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practicable — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

And that doesn’t just mean non-violence in terms of actual physical threat. If it did, we would not see vegans protesting the use of honey, palm oil or, for that matter, the pet industry. After all, while harmácanáresult from these industries, it doesn’t necessarily have to. Scale the operation down far enough and welfare can be virtually guaranteed.

Yet veganismáis rooted in theánotion that animals are not ours to exploit — that, essentially, the honey is not ours to take.

And if non-violence is the movement’s cornerstone, thenáthat must hold true ináthe way we treat our fellow humans. We are all animals, after all, andá equally deserving. That means that promoting social justice, erasing barriers to racial parity and demanding constitutional rights be recognized and honored.

Protecting veganism as it becomes mainstream

Soáhow we can protect veganism as the force for good that it is?

In the same way that we have had to work toádissect “alt-right” narratives and lay bare what that movement truly is — the promotion of misogynistic white male privilege — we also must shield veganism from the emerging strains of “bro-veganism” thatáincorporate toxic masculinity.

At heart,áveganism is a rational ideology and justice movement that clearlyárejectsáwhite nationalist thinking. And we have to look inward in order to protect the integrity of the movement.

Veganism’sáárace problemáhas been exacerbatedáas it gains popularity, reinforcing a notion thatáthis lifestyle choice is decidedlyámiddle class and white. But that, of course, isn’t the reality. Vegans of color are plentiful, and it is possible to practice veganism at any so-called class level. As such we must work to make room for, and elevate, the voices of all vegans.

We must also address sexism in veganism byárejecting the use of female bodies in order to promote the movementáand ensuring theámovement remains a safe space for women.

Given its ability to bolsterásocial justice movements, veganismámustáremain an encompassing ideology of compassion and unity. It does not belong to an ideology of hate.

Photo Credit: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr

67 comments

Philippa P
Philippa Powers16 days ago

Thanks.

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JT Smith
JT Smith21 days ago

Just as there is a whole sexuality spectrum that we see and know clearly within the biological gender binary, there is also obviously a dietary spectrum to be found within the omnivorous binary that runs from herbivorous to carnivorous and everything in between. And trying to force people, even if only by social pressure, to become completely herbivorous is just as wrong as it is to put peer pressure on members of the LGBT community to be heterosexual.

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JT Smith
JT Smith21 days ago

http://www.care2.com/causes/trees-form-friendships-and-remember-their-experiences.html
www.upworthy.com/21-trees-going-out-on-a-limb-to-ask-for-your-help

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JT Smith
JT Smith21 days ago

What about all of the plants you murder every day? What? Just because they can't run or swim away and you can't hear their screams, it's alright to kill and mutilate them? (Mowing the lawn and cutting shrubs into fanciful shapes is mutilation, even though they don't bleed!) Thinking otherwise further proves you're faunacentric.

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JT Smith
JT Smith21 days ago

There's something else the high and mighty vegans constantly overlook in their deluded superiority - Veganism is in fact Not healthy for everyone: www.ecowatch.com/is-going-vegan-healthy-2066403928.html

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JT Smith
JT Smith21 days ago

An aspect that so many people miss is that this planet is becoming ever more dangerously overpopulated with humans. Human breeding (not black, not Jewish, not Muslim, not [fill in the blank with ethnic group(s) of choice], but HUMAN breeding desperately needs to be slowed. It is this overpopulation that ultimately causes all of the major fights over resources (e.g. fuel, potable water, etc). When the original texts of the Bible were written, particularly the bit about "be fruitful and multiply", human population on Earth only counted in the millions. It was just over two centuries ago that humans crossed the 1 billion mark. And the population has more than doubled in the last 50 YEARS. Guess what: you've been Very fruitful and multiplied like rabbits. Now knock it off already!

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JT Smith
JT Smith21 days ago

A much bigger problem is the massive overpopulation of humans on this tiny planet: http://www.ecowatch.com/overpopulation-earth-2030278960.html

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JT Smith
JT Smith21 days ago

Humans need to stop trying to separate themselves from the rest of the natural flora and fauna of this planet! Like bears, humans, are OMNIVOROUS! For crying out loud, if we realize that the other fauna of Earth are also sentient, then the bear knows the salmon is also sentient, yet seems to have no issues eating the salmon when the opportunity arises.

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Richard A
Richard A23 days ago

White nationalists grasping at any straw in order to gain even a modicum of respect or legitimacy. Not a chance.

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Winn A
Winn A24 days ago

Hmmmmmm

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