Guest Post: lauren Ornelas, Food Empowerment Project

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) is a vegan food justice nonprofit organization seeking to create a more just world by helping consumers recognize the power of their food choices. F.E.P. works in solidarity with farm workers, advocates for chocolate not sourced from the worst forms of child labor, and focuses on access to healthy plant-based foods in communities of color and low-income communities.

F.E.P. is also the chosen organization that will receive donations from sales of our newest book, Veganism in an Oppressive World, a Vegans-of-Color Community Project, edited by author & illustrator, Julia Feliz Brueck and with contributions from vegans of color from around the globe.

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I remember when I started Food Empowerment Project and explained to fellow animal rights activists about some of our goals. I was told that racism isn’t that bad. Well, at this point in time, I don’t think anyone can deny the blatant racist comments and actions that are taking place across the country right now. The time is up for us to ignore it, and we must constantly use our voices to speak out against it.

For those of us, like myself, who are sci-fi fans, we know that one of the beauties about sci-fi is how writers can cleverly weave commentary about issues, such as racism, animal exploitation, sexism, etc. – within the story lines set in another time and place while making them relevant to the here and now.

My husband and I have been watching Twilight Zone episodes, and one struck me that I just can’t shake. The episode is called “He’s Alive,” and the description from IMDB summarizes that, “Around 1960, a tiny neo-Nazi organization struggles pathetically to succeed in a big city. A mysterious figure begins to ruthlessly guide a young, insecure U.S. Nazi leader, and the group begins to draw more attention.” The episode had me thinking about how people treat various forms of discrimination, including racism, homophobia, cruelty to animals, and the treatment of immigrants. You have those who speak hate and vitriol, those who listen and are uncomfortable with it but laugh as they do not know what to say, those who agree, and finally, those who speak against it.

I believe that it’s not unusual for many of us to experience these types of responses based on our reactions to conversations about discrimination, mostly from people we don’t know well or work with. I was faced with this when my husband and I chose to protest Prop 8 in California (Prop 8 made marriage equality illegal) by having our wedding in Massachusetts, which legalized marriage equality. I was asked, and continue to be asked, why we married out of state. People want to know if it is because we had family there or if we met there. Every time someone asked, I knew this was an opportunity to make a statement against hatred and discrimination. I told the truth and said it in a way that would assume that any decent person who does not believe that marriage inequality was discrimination would agree with me and understand why we had to make this choice. Did everyone agree with us and embrace what I had to say? Certainly not. Should I worry about offending people whose point of view is different to mine? To me, that would be no different than being silent and not speaking up about other forms of discrimination. And that is a small way in which we all can use our voice. It doesn’t mean we have to scream (although clearly there are times when this is necessary), but we must not be silent. We must not laugh or ignore the hatred that is being spouted these days. We should not listen to these shock jocks and laugh. We should not give them anything.

Why should those with the most constant and loudest voices be those who speak such absolute disgust? Even if we don’t have the microphones they do, we must use our voices because collectively we can be loud.

Now most people who are reading this (if you have continued to read) are not ones who would remain silent when animal cruelty is involved. However, I start to worry that this trend is creeping into our movement in an insidious way. Every time someone talks about “humane” meat or cage-free eggs, it is as if the discussion of the reality of the actual suffering, cruelty, and deaths of these animals is erased, because the conversation, for the most part, stops there.

Why is it that those who bring up these injustices are seen as not allowing others to have a good time? Why aren’t those that make homophobic, racist ,or sexist jokes seen as the kill joys?

These conversations, as uncomfortable as they might be, must see the light of day and not be overshadowed by laughter or the thought that it will all go away if we don’t talk about it.  I don’t want to have to worry that my group will lose support because a racist or a homophobe reads this. Enough. We must take stands against those who seek to oppress people, even if they support animal issues. We must use our collective voices to speak out against all forms of injustice if we think we can ever chip away at it.

Veganism in an Oppressive World will help guide you towards consistent anti-oppression in our movement, so that we can truly create the just world we all want to be a part of.

lauren Ornelas, Food Empowerment Project

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NEW RELEASE: “Veganism in an Oppressive World”

 

Veganism in an Oppressive World

A Vegans-of-Color Community Project

Edited by Julia Feliz Brueck

New Release Out Now!

Get your Paperback or eBook copy HERE.

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What would it take to raise the voices of nonhumans and spread veganism further than ever before?

Veganism in an Oppressive World, a Vegans-of-Color Community Project edited by Julia Feliz Brueck will revolutionize the way you see our movement. A must read for new vegans and seasoned nonhuman animal activists alike, this community-led effort provides in-depth, first-hand accounts and analyses of what is needed to broaden the scope of veganism beyond its current status as a fringe or “single-issue” movement while ensuring that justice for nonhumans remains its central focus.

Veganism in an Oppressive World is

“…a must read for anyone committed to doing serious work around the dismantling of speciesism and all other systems of oppression…” –Kevin Tillman, Vegan Hip Hop Movement

…an insightful guide to creating a truly inclusive vegan world.” – Pax Ahimsa Gethen, photographer, writer, & activist

&

“…moves beyond cosmetic diversity and into the realm of complex discussions about intersectionality and consistent anti-oppression within veganism. These…timely essays…provide relief against the danger of it being co-opted by the very status quo it sought to decenter.

– Dr. A. Breeze Harper, author, speaker, & critical race theorist

From conception, art, and prose to design, editing, and publication, Veganism in an Oppressive World is an international vegans of color community book project.

From start to finish, in an attempt to raise the voices of nonhuman animals higher than before, the following writers and artists give readers the tools and guidance needed to spread the AR/vegan movement father than its current reach:

 

 

Contributors

 

Bipasha Ahmed is an activist and works as an academic psychologist with interests in inequalities research, particularly in relation to PoC communities. She is also a trustee of a South Asian womxn’s domestic violence service and has been involved in activism in relation to Violence Against Womxn and Girls (VAWG) and anti-racism for many years. She lives in London, England with her two daughters and partner.

 

Michelle Carrera is a professional translator, writer, and founding director of the vegan non-profit Chilis on Wheels, an organization that helps to provide people in need with warm vegan meals via chapters across the US and in Puerto Rico.

Website: www.chilisonwheels.org

 

Julia Feliz Brueck is a decade-long vegan of color from Puerto Rico. She is the author of the first ever vegan-themed board book, Libby Finds Vegan Sanctuary, and most recently, the Baby and Toddler Feeding Guide, a dietitian approved evidence based guide for raising young ones on plant based diets safely and simply. Julia is also a published book and magazine illustrator, as well as a research scientist (B.Sc. & M.Sc.), and a mom of two dedicated to standing up against all oppression and to raising the voices of nonhuman animals.

Website: www.juliafeliz.com

 

Rama Ganesan lived in Chennai India until the age of 10 when she emigrated to the UK with her family.  She graduated from the University of Oxford, and then got a PhD from the University of Wales. She then moved to the US with her spouse, and she has lived there ever since. She has two grown children, and a dog and two cat companions at home. Rama became a vegan after reading “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, set as college reading for her son. She then began to work to promote veganism, and currently works as field educator for Ethical Choices Program, where she presents to thousands of students on the topic of compassionate eating choices.

 

Shazia Juna was born in Reading, England (UK). She has lived in both Pakistan and England during her childhood. Shazia began her scientific career as a laboratory technician in the chemical industry for a few years prior to studying for her undergraduate degree in Chemistry at University of York, UK. Shazia worked as a Development Chemist in the paint and printing ink sector for a few years and later, returned to academia and completed her MPhil (Organic Chemistry) at Bath University, UK, as well as her PhD (starch/natural materials) at Glyndwr University in North Wales, UK. Shazia worked as a postdoctoral researcher for over three years at Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria. Throughout her scientific career, she has been interested in renewable materials. Shazia currently lives in Vienna, Austria and is learning to draw and paint with a goal of exploring her scientific works through an artistic lens. Shazia also has a keen interest in the use of vegan art materials that are commercially available or homemade. She is also working on fiction novels based on the ecology and chemistry of trees/flora and has been travelling across Europe. Shazia has been a vegetarian since she was 18 and a vegan since August 2009.

Website: www.shaziajuna.com

 

Melissa John-Charles Carrillo has been vegan since 2001 and is passionate about wildlife, works with refugees, and writes about being a person of colour in a mostly white society.

Website: http://livingincolour651.wordpress.com

 

Vinamarata “Winnie” Kaur is a Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati (UC), Cincinnati, Ohio, United States with research and activism interests in Sikh studies, South Asian studies, feminist theories, critical human-animal studies, digital scholarship, and film and media studies. She teaches courses on writing, feminism, and film, media, and sexuality studies and offers writing assistance as a tutor to UC Health’s and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s medical professionals and UC’s undergraduate and graduate students. During her spare time, she enjoys offering online and in-person advice to those looking to transition to veganism, reading recent peer-reviewed medical research (human and veterinary), hiking with her canine companion, playing wand and light toy games with her feline friend, and exploring new vegan cuisines with her partner.

Website: www.winniekaur.com

 

Laila Kassam has a MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and a PhD in Development Economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has worked in the international development sector since 2003. Her work has focused on conducting research related to poverty and food security for rural development projects in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Her research has been published in peer reviewed journals and by international organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. She became vegan in 2013 and co-founded the Veterinary Vegan Network with her partner Shailen Jasani, a vegan veterinary surgeon, in 2015.

Website: www.everyday-justice.com

 

Deepta Rao has an M.A. in Experiential Health and Healing from The Graduate Institute, Bethany, Connecticut, United States and an M.B.A. in Marketing from Institute of Technology and Management, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. She also has a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies and eCornell. If she is not volunteering at her kids’ school, she is digging into the neural networks of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. She is also a student of the Chinmaya Mission San Jose and volunteers at the mission during weekends. Besides feeding her family delicious vegan food, she loves making beaded bracelets and elaborate travel plans.

 

Meneka Repka is an artist and teacher living in Calgary, Alberta.  She completed a BFA from ACAD in 2007, and a BEd from the University of Lethbridge in 2010. After teaching junior high and high school, Meneka became interested in expanding her knowledge in art education, and finished an MA from Concordia University (Montreal) in 2013.  She recently finished a PhD in education at the University of Calgary.  Meneka loves teaching, and feels just as engaged in her teaching practice as she does in her art practice.  As an illustrator, Meneka is interested in the animal, links between humans and nonhumans, nature, and environment.  In her work, she investigates the complicated relationships between humans and other animals.

Website: http://meneka.carbonmade.com

 

Margaret Robinson is a bisexual and two-spirit scholar from Eski’kewaq, Nova Scotia, and a member of the Lennox Island First Nation. A community-based researcher since 2009, her work examines the impact of intersecting oppressions and draws on critical, postcolonial, and queer theories, intersectionality, and third wave feminism.

Website: http://www.dal.ca/faculty/arts/sociology-social-anthropology/faculty-staff/our-faculty/margaret-robinson.html

 

Saryta Rodriguez is an author, editor, social justice advocate, and educator. Their first book, Until Every Animal is Free, was published in 2015 by Vegan Publishers, and they are currently working on a compilation of essays examining food justice from a variety of lenses. Saryta’s past writings have focused on food justice, veganism, race, and gentrification. Their articles have appeared on such notable social justice websites as Free From HarmCausa Justa/Just Cause, and Reasonable Vegan. Saryta edits manuscripts of all genres, having worked previously for David Black Literary Agency (Brooklyn) and Penguin Publishing (Manhattan) and currently editing for Sanctuary Publishers. They also specialize in literacy tutoring for students in Grades K-12. Originally from Bay Shore, New York, Saryta currently resides in Harlem.

Website: http://www.sarytarodriguez.com

Danae Silva Montiel is a two decade-long vegan currently working as a graphic designer and illustrator.

 

Meenal Upadhyay is a software developer and a corporate trainer, although she would rather be a movie reviewer fulfilling two of her favorite pastimes—watching movies and writing. She loves writing about feminist issues. When she is not “mothering” her two daughters, she teaches coding to little kids.

 

Rayven Whitaker is a 9th grade Home-Schooled Student, who chose to go vegan in March of this year after attending her second Triangle VegFest. She has been the co-host and co-producer of numerous Podcasts (dating back to 2012 at the earliest). She is looking forward to the continuing pursuits of her interests in (Music (composing, producing, singing and songwriting), Dance (as well as choreographing), Film (screenwriting, cinematography, directing, producing and acting), Photography, Writing, Journalism, etc.) and outside of the Arts.

 

Destiny Whitaker is an 11th grade Home-Schooled Student with a passion for arts and music. Her many titles include: Musician, Arranger, Writer, Podcaster, Producer, Actress, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Activist, Journalist, Fangirl and much more. 

Websites: www.DestinyWhitakerProductions.Weebly.com & www.OurWorldAndFandomsGalore.com

 

Ankita Yadav is a research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India and her areas of specialization include human-animal studies, interconnectivity of oppressions, and gender. She has published various scholarly and animal welfare related articles. She is a vegan, an animal welfare activist, and a leading blogger about cats in Delhi. She has pioneered a community effort project, based purely on volunteer engagement and local resources, to rescue, rehabilitate, and save from suffering and superstition, more than 750 cats (and counting) in the city. In 2016, TEDx Delhi recognized her as a Superhero of Delhi. When Ankita is not writing or rescuing cats, you would find her experimenting with funky earrings and lip colors and having interactive sessions with people where she educates them about veganism and animal welfare policies.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/everythingmeow.india/

 

 

Grant Support from: http://www.deutscher-jugendschutz-verband.de

 

 

Paperback & eBook available HERE.

 

Submissions Open for a Community-led Unique Vegan Activism Book

Diverse and Casual People and Togetherness

 

Submissions welcome from ALL vegans for a vegan/animal rights community project:
We are looking for vegan writers and artists willing to contribute work for a community-led unique activism book concept that will feature text and artwork from nonhuman animals’ point of view.
The book will  help support activists that are limited in the forms of activism that they are able to take part in due to reasons that might prevent someone from being able to do other forms of more “visible” activism (disability, mental illness, social anxiety, etc). Why? Because all forms of activism as valuable and, they should know that their voices are also of value and of importance in our movement as we work towards nonhuman liberation.
Artists, line work and other forms of artwork that translates well into black and white would work best for submissions to this project.
Prompt for writers and artists:
If you had one, single moment to make a statement and raise the voices of nonhuman animals from their own point of view through your art or poetry, what would that look like? What would you say or illustrate to a stranger that might encounter your work?
Part of the profits for this book will benefit an animal sanctuary. The rest will help Sanctuary Publishers continue to publish books and help marginalize communities.
Email info@sanctuarypublishers.com for details or with a submission or submission idea if you are interested in joining this community effort.
Submissions must be anti-speciesist, inclusive/intersectional in nature, no depicted gore or violence. The aim of the project is to raise the voices of nonhumans without shock tactics. Please email us if you need further clarification on what we are looking for.
Please share with those that may be interested in this exciting collaboration.
Thanks for helping us make content that supports humans and nonhumans on our journey towards justice for all!

Raising the Voices of Vegans of Color

 

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In collaboration with TAVS – The Advocacy of Veganism Society and the VoC community, Sanctuary Publishers‘ newest book project will work to help raise the voices of vegans of color in an effort to speak up on behalf of nonhuman animals.

Vegans of color have stories to tell—stories about what veganism means to us and our communities. Because of this, we will be working to publish a two volume book set to help vegans of color gain visibility while in turn, continue to help spread veganism within our communities.

Profits from the two volumes will also help sponsor a pro-intersectional veganism starter kit booklet – the first of its kind.

Vegans artists and authors of color are welcome to make submissions towards the books. Guidelines for the types of submissions welcomed can be found on the publishers’ submission page.

If you are not VoC but would still like to help this important project, you can volunteer to help with promotion when the time comes or with graphic design.

You may also help support this project through donations.

Thank you – we are thrilled to bring this work to fruition!