Animal Studies Journal


The paper considers how ecological feminist philosophies can enrich the animal advocacy movement and its liberatory politics and ethics. Building on existing literature, I argue that ecofeminist theories can help deepen our thinking about our relationship with animals and the more-than-human world; about our intersectional struggle to end oppression; and about putting this into practice, especially in relation to food. I focus on the work of Australian philosopher and feminist Val Plumwood to work through these issues. I examine Plumwood’s critique of dualism and anthropocentrism and how it reflects a particular Australian vision of nature. Her take on animal Others also challenges the way humans hyperseparate themselves from nonhuman animals, background, homogenise and instrumentalise them through the ‘the abstractly quantitative and commodified concept of meat’ (Plumwood, Environmental Culture 156). In this perspective, veganism emerges as an essential step on a long journey towards building ethical relationships with nonhuman others. However, as animal advocates, we cannot presume that veganism is sufficient in and of itself because the exploitation and commodification of nonhuman animals is just one expression (albeit large-scale and with very significant consequences) of dualistic and oppressive ideologies used to justify the brutal domination of nature. Following Plumwood, I argue that we need to challenge deeply our systems of knowledge and the logical features of dualisms to face animal exploitation and the current ecocide, and to inform our approach to social change and activism. This somewhat differs from popular analyses within critical animal studies that focus on the political economy of the animal-industrial complex and target capitalism in their fight for animal liberation. Yet, the choice between addressing ideologies and structures of oppression (including economic ones) seems to be a false one, so I propose to rethink veganism along both these lines to ground it in a more ecological way, embracing the more-than-human world at large, but also in a more political way.