Political Veganism

As the vegan movement grows it is important that we do not lose sight of what is truly important and realise the potential of political veganism. We cannot allow ourselves to become dazzled by diet book celebrities and wonder workouts or we risk representing veganism as just another edgy trend. We must instead focus on the ways in which veganism can be promoted as the only way to achieve a sustainable future, and this should be done by making environmental benefits and emotional intelligence the forefront of the movement.

With this in mind, a crucial aspect of the vegan movement is in fact to understand its role as a political power. We may not at first realise how veganism fits in with politics, however the more experience we gain as vegans, the more we can see how its core values may be applied to change the face of political landscapes across the globe.

Firstly we must come to terms with what exactly the vegan movement as a whole stands for in terms of politically attributable characteristics:

  • A call for serious societal change:

When we fight in the name of veganism, we are voicing our concerns for the way the world has been configured. The social and political constructions that have dictated thought and behaviour for so long are outdated, and we are calling for serious change. As education and access to information becomes ever more readily available we are becoming far more aware of the inner workings of our world, and so far we aren’t happy with what we have seen. By fighting as vegan activists we are becoming the change we want to see in the world, and we should be educating others as to why this change is the best course of action. Put simply, we are expressing why we aren’t happy with the way the world works and as the movement grows more and more people take notice, and thus our political strength grows.

  • An extremely powerful tool for achieving environmental sustainability:

As we all know, being vegan is considered the most sustainable way to live. However, many people don’t realise the impact this information can have on influencing environmental change. From personal experience I have found that the most effective way to promote veganism is to exploit the selfishness of others by putting them face to face with the environmental destruction they are supporting. By showing them that they are actively jeopardising their way of life, many people are visibly shaken by the news. (If you need some more information as to how veganism is essential from an environmentalist perspective check out my video)

  • Opposing the industrialisation of living beings:

For me the importance soon shifted from a simple opposition to meat onto the depreciation of living beings into coldly calculated units of somatic value. The treatment of non-human animals as stock is deeply disturbing and a worrying reflection of the human attitude towards life in general. If the lives of other species are so undervalued, there is no wonder that humans continue to harm and kill each other. I’m not suggesting that if the world went vegan there would be no more wars (the human race is far too stupid to achieve world peace, come on Homo sapiens prove me wrong!), but it would be naive to think that it wouldn’t make people appreciate the lives of others. Not to mention the fact that the physical industrialisation of the animal product industry is completely unnatural even from an agricultural perspective.

  • Taking charge as consumers:

The power to change the global market rests with the consumers, but many people don’t realise just how much influence they can have by promoting or avoiding certain products or companies. Vegans boycott one of the, if not the, most destructive industries on the planet and have had a surprisingly large impact which shows that we do indeed hold the power; if we don’t buy their products, they will stop selling them.

  • The link between personal health and national budgets:

As scientific research increasingly suggests; animal products can cause a multitude of health issues. So by letting people know that living healthily as a vegan is not only achievable but actually preferable, we can actually push for positive change on a medical level. It’s no secret that health organisations around the world are under serious strain, but I believe that veganism could help relieve some of that strain. This inhabits an interesting area on the political landscape, as there could be friction between the interests of public health and the profits of pharmaceutical companies (but I’m not here to talk about medical conspiracies!).

  • The importance of emotional intelligence:

This may seem a little more abstract than the previous points, but I think it is important nonetheless. It’s no surprise to hear that the future is progressive, and one of the desirable characteristics we need to pursue this future is strong emotional intelligence. This becomes increasingly important when we consider the intersectionality between veganism and other progressive ideologies such as feminism, LGBTQ rights and disability rights movements.

So What Does This Mean?

The vegan movement needs to use these points to its advantage to establish itself firmly on the international stage as a strong and growing force. By promoting the areas that appeal most to the general populace on a political and social level, we can reinforce the positive and desirable representation of veganism.

The issue at the moment is that the vegan movement is suffering an identity crisis caused by deep internal conflicts, which quite frankly are not helping at all. One side is fighting for animals and the environment and the other for self improvement and bodily enhancements, the latter of which is unfortunately the more widely represented as the face of the vegan movement. Now I’m not saying that self improvements and diets etc. are a bad thing, they do get people’s attention, but they shouldn’t be the driving force of the movement because they lack depth. Diets and workout plans may be eye catching  but they rarely lead to long term commitments and change, so using them to represent the vegan movement is hardly a smart move. The vegan movement needs to secure its identity by rearranging priorities to put forward its core values of ethical living and environmental sustainability.

The next step would be to make sure veganism is being promoted in the most effective way, this means applying more pressure through bottom up approaches as well producing vegans with training to push for top down changes through the likes of scientific studies and political activism. By tackling both the general populace and institutions simultaneously we can ensure the effective promotion of veganism as a popular and endorsed ideology.

These are just a few ideas that I have had on the subject and there is plenty of room to expand these thoughts, so if you have any ideas please feel free to share them below and tell me what you think of the idea of political veganism.

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Super Simple Vegan Spinach Burgers

If you’ve ever had cravings for a good vegan burger you have probably noticed that shop bought ones can get pretty pricey, and many recipes can get quite complicated (with seitan, tofu etc.). This recipe for vegan spinach burgers is great because it is super simple, cheap to make, and the end product is mega tasty and healthy.

I picked this recipe up from a friend I was visiting last week in Asturias, Northern Spain, which was a huge treat since the culture in that area is very heavily centred around meat. A few years ago I would have been hard pushed to find anyone who even knew what a vegan was, but today there is an increased awareness and even the odd vegan restaurant (like Beware of the Cat) but there is still a long way to go!. Anyway, on to the recipe:

(I won’t include all the bells and whistles for the sake of simplicity, but I will add some suggestions at the end to spice things up a bit) *I’ve just realised that these are also gluten free if wheat flour isn’t used, bonus*

Ingredients

  • 1 medium size onion, minced
  • 3 cup packed spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chickpeas, it’s up to you whether you want to mash them
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour (ordinary wheat flour could probably be used instead)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed (or chopped finely)

Method

Cook the onion in a pan over a medium heat with oil or a little water until softened, then add the garlic for another minute or two. Add the spinach and cook until softened, then add the chickpeas. Allow as much liquid to cook off as possible then place the mixture into a mixing bowl, now is the time to add any seasonings and mix them in thoroughly. Mix in the chickpea flour, then leave it to cool (placing it in the fridge is a shortcut). Once the mixture is cooled, you can use your hands to form the burgers (a little thick is the best to make them less likely to fall apart). Pan fry the burgers in a dash of oil over a medium heat until they are slightly browned and serve either in buns (check store bought burger buns for palm oil!) or with salad. Viola, Vegan spinach burgers!

(You could probably bake these burgers instead and get similar results, but I haven’t tried that so who knows!)

Extras

Like I said, the above recipe is for the simple, no frills spinach burgers but if you want to make them even more exciting, you can add almost anything, that’s the beauty of these burgers; they’re tasty enough on their own but neutral enough to fit with most spices. I’ve had them with a teaspoon of cumin, some with coriander, even adding a little soy sauce can add a splash of flavour to the mix. Be creative but remember to not over-spice!

If you try this recipe and make some vegan spinach burgers then leave a comment and let me know how it turned out! Don’t forget to share this page and subscribe to the website to receive updates for new content, you can also follow the Fox Eyed Man on Twitter, Facebook, Google+Tumblr and now Instagram for further discussions about environmentalism.

Featured Image: ‘Spinach‘ by Daniella Segura is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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