Animal Studies Journal


This paper examines the relationships between vegans living in Australia and their tattoos. While tattooing has become an increasingly popular part of mainstream consumer culture, vegans often identify their tattoos in terms of major life events (of which catalysts to become vegan and vegan transition are but one), marks of remembrance or aides-mémoire, and tools to signal to other vegans and begin conversations with non-vegans. Defying simple classification, many of the tattoos sported by vegans are overlaid with multiple meanings. While some aspects of tattoo culture are found within this subset of tattooed people, practice behaviours such as ingredient checking shape tattoo acquisition practices, while the notion of veganism as an ‘final state’ has implications for the way tattoos are commonly seen as marking the ongoing flow of life events. Significantly, a high proportion of vegans’ tattoos express vegan themes implicitly or explicitly, with a significant minority seeing them as part of practices of activism and/or proselytisation. I conclude that this practice is non-trivial and represents an important political practice for many, but certainly not all, of my research participants.