What is Speciesism ?

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VegFest London is back for another year of community, compassion, and of course, PLANTS!

The festival is a place where everyone can learn about the vegan community. While we generally try to keep things light, sometimes we need to talk about the tough stuff.

VegFest London aims to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and comfortable, however, animal rights is not always a comforting issue. So while this post may make you feel a little uncomfortable, I ask you to try to channel that discomfort into an understanding of each individual’s desire to live the life they want to live.

It’s not all doom and gloom though! We promise you some fun stuff in this post too. Read to the end to discover!

Photo by  Sam Carter  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

If you’ve never heard the term “speciesism” before, you’re not alone. It’s a term that often gets forgotten when society discusses forms of oppression. The most basic definition of speciesism is: Discrimination against other individuals based on which species they were born.

A good way to understand discrimination based on species is by thinking about an individual’s species (i.e. human, dog, antelope, etc.) as being an identifying feature of the individual - the same way you would think of race, ability, age, class, etc as identifying characteristics. Discrimination based on race is called racism; discrimination by age is called ageism; and discrimination by species is called speciesism. The common element between all of these “isms” is that they are all forms of discrimination against a group of individuals for something that is out of their control.

Essentially, humans sometimes feel that because animals are different from us, we can treat/use them in whatever way we like because we see ourselves as the alleged ‘superior species.’

However, just because a dog is a dog, or a pig is a pig does not mean they do not want to live or that their suffering does not matter.

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If you’re having a tough time wrapping your head around the concept, I again ask you to think of racism. Racism occurs when a particular feature - i.e. skin colour - is used as a means of establishing a hierarchy. People are placed on a figurative hierarchical ladder based on their skin colour - some people are at the top and other people are at the bottom. This means individuals can be oppressed/exploited based on the perceived value of an unchangeable physical feature. Similarly, in regards to speciesism, animals are exploited simply because they were born a different species.

An animal’s right and desire to live is disregarded and forgotten because they are not human, but not being human does not mean these individuals do not want to live their life. Just because these individuals are built differently than we are does not give us the right to objectify and exploit them.

Humans have found ways to turn animals into objects so that it is easier to use them for our own gain. Some examples are factory farming and horse racing. We need to reject parts of ideologies that allow for this objectification.

We need to see each animal as the individual they are, not as the object we have forced them to become!

I’m sure many of you have, or at least know, a dog or a cat or other animal. I am also sure that if I asked you if that animal has a personality, you would most definitely say yes.

Just like humans, they have needs, they have wants, and they want to live just as much as we do.

Photo by  Picsea  on  Unsplash

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Still a little confused or want some more info?
Maybe this will help!

The good news is, there’s no need to eat or use animals! As VegFest London has shown through five years of showcasing amazing vendors, there are countless vegan products out there and more keep popping up every day!

If you can think of it, it can be veganized!

Photo by  Kobby Mendez  on  Unsplash

Check out these local businesses that are confronting the issue of speciesism by creating incredible vegan products:

Plant Matter Kitchen (162 Wortley Road)
Plant Matter Cafe (717 Richmond Street)
Plant Matter Bistro (244 Dundas Street)
Boombox Bake Shop (520 Adelaide Street)
Curley Brewing Company (1634 Hyde Park Road)
Copper Branch (660 Richmond Street)
Globally Local (252 Dundas Street & 1141 Highbury Avenue North)
V Food Spot (547 Hamilton Road)
Naturally Vegan Company (located in the Covent Garden Market at 130 King Street)
Nuts for Cheese

And that’s just in London! Here are some of our favourites from out of town:

Beechwood Donuts (St. Catharines)
Boon Burger (Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville)
Main Vegan Deli (Glencoe)
The Hearty Hooligan (Hamilton)
Coven (Hamilton/Kitchener)
Kelly’s Bake Shop & Lettuce Love Cafe (Burlington)
Great Veggie Bites (Mt. Brydges)

A world where humans don’t exploit animals is possible!
Come learn more at VegFest London 2019 on Saturday November 9.

Credit for header photo: Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash