And so, breathless with anticipation, we return to the pages of Everyday Feminism, where questions of cosmic import are chewed over, and where Celia Edell, a self-described “24-year-old feminist philosopher interested in social justice,” shares the many things learned by her over many, many years. The great and pressing issues that weigh upon her mind:
Does feminism require vegetarianism? This is something I am asked about often.
Vegetarians and vegans sometimes go around telling meat-eaters whether their eating habits are consistent with their feminist beliefs.
Imagine the parties. The time must fly.
The main argument you will likely hear in favour of feminist vegetarianism is that of linked oppression. Basically the idea is that women are consistently objectified in a morally problematic way that is very similar to the way animals are objectified.
You see, great feminist thinkers have insisted that “female animals are particularly oppressed” because “we consume animal products which must come from female bodies (i.e., milk and eggs)” and “this can be understood as a type of male domination of female bodies.” And so, obviously,
Many feminist theorists have therefore recommended that refraining from consuming animals and their products is a necessary step toward undercutting patriarchal power. It will not only benefit non-human animals, but also work to undermine the entire system [that] disadvantages women.
The mechanism here is, unsurprisingly, somewhat unclear. Possibly because enthusiasts of truck stop bacon butties rarely give much weight to the ponderings of “feminist theorists.” Even theorists who imagine that a liking for bacon or steak, or even the humble cheese sandwich, reinforces “the same system… which positions women as lesser than men.” However, Ms Edell is more temperate in her views, because,
Animals and women are exploited quite differently in the patriarchy.
At which point, readers may wish to imagine a world in which feminist theorists are ascendant, patriarchy has been smashed and rendered unto dust, and womenfolk, being wise and inherently benign, shun the exploitation of animals altogether, living instead on a diet of compassion and self-righteousness. However, it turns out that on a practical level, building a meat-free, dairy-free utopia is fraught with agonising, due to the “many intersecting issues which complicate these decisions”:
Some people cannot eat a vegan or vegetarian diet as it is triggering for their eating disorder.