Editor’s Introduction: The below article by Marcie Bianco was first featured in 2012, when several out lesbian celebrities were starting to more strongly advocate for animal rights and the case for vegetarianism and veganism. Six years later, going vegan has increased in popularity both for humanitarian and health reasons. Historically, vegetarianism (vegan is a bit new) has been associated with lesbians as a stereotype, but there does seem to be s strong case for that stereotype being based in reality. Re-reading Marcie’s article makes me wonder about the role gay women have played in animal rights and the case for going vegetarian, if not fully vegan. And if lesbians really are largely vegetarian, are we healthier? How significant of a role do we play in protecting animals? Weigh in.
Our diet, as the term we give to the daily habits pertaining to the energy we consume in order to enable and sustain our life, is an integral part of our ethics (for the bible of Foucault (specifically, volume 3 of The History of Sexuality) tells me so). In The Yoga of Discipline, Siddha Master Swami (Gurumayi) Chidvilasananda discusses the “discipline of eating” at length, explaining how “disciplined eating does not refer only to what you eat. It also refers to when you eat, how you combine your foods, and choosing the foods that are good for your body.” Contemplating the purpose, substance, and one’s interaction with or assimilation of food helps one to progress along one’s spiritual path (towards “enlightenment”).
What we consume as and for energy literally makes us — makes our physical self as well as, I think, strongly impacting our psychological self.
And, if an ethics describes the comprehensive and, ideally, harmonious set of principles, habits, and techné that a person lives by on a daily basis, then does a correlation exist between one’s sexuality (sexual lifestyle) and her diet (dietary lifestyle)?
The question of how sexuality influences dietary lifestyle is nothing new. One’s understanding of her sexuality in relation to how it influences her diet has been well rehearsed in relation to the vegan lifestyle. I came to know the correlation between a homo-lifestyle (being gay) and a vegan-lifestyle (being vegan) shortly after becoming vegan myself last year—after much discussion with a dear friend of mine (Jodie, this column’s for you), a decision made final after interviewing Jane Velez-Mitchell last year (for Cherry Grrl) regarding her book Addict Nation.
Velez-Mitchell narrated her own story of becoming vegan not only through some garish examples (of how meat and dairy are produced; did you know that meat production is the largest greenhouse gas contributor?) but also, implicitly, through her own relation to her homosexuality. The other day, I asked Jane to make explicit this connection; here’s what she said:
The first sentence of Velez-Mitchell’s statement epitomizes the primary correlative factor in why homos, not only for Velez-Mitchell but also for a number of vocal homogans (homo-vegans) in the blogosphere, adopt the vegan lifestyle.
Ari Solomon’s 2011 post “Being Vegan is SO Gay” even goes so far to employ timely “bully” language in his explanation of how he came to veganism:
The ethic is profoundly christian (lowercase “c”; I am not yet convinced that every “C”hristian abides this dictate); from Matthew 7:12, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Earlier this year, Portia DeGeneres made headlines for asserting that it’s more difficult being vegan than being gay in an interview with VegNews:
From personal experience, I found what Portia to be saying all too true — perhaps some reason that this is because society commonly believes that one can change — or, from a different light, is more susceptible to changing — their dietary lifestyle more easily than their sexual lifestyle. Is veganism more “catching” than “THE GAY”?!
There are a few questions that come to mind after reading all these homogan virtual blogs and tidbits: can homos (or anyone, for that matter) compassionately eat animals? (The idea of clearly communicating one’s desire to eat someone else and that person saying “alright” is absolutely absurd!) Or, perhaps more thought-provoking, once we homos stop casting ourselves in a “victim” light (heavy-handed or not), will there be that same identifying impetus? Can there still be the ability to “empathize” with animals enough not to eat them? Are there other ways — other, credible reasons than the common bond of victimhood, voicelessness or helplessness—to establish a connection between a gay “lifestyle” and a vegan lifestyle?
I ask these questions because I do think that being vegan is honorable, but it is a quality that does not rely on the idea of oppression. It is honorable to respect all living creatures. It is honorable to one’s self to think not just about the ethical implications of this dietary lifestyle but also the socio-economic ones, which include everything from supporting small, local farms (micro-level) to supporting the earth and its environment (macro-level).
What do ye think about your personal ethics and how particular strands relate to and affect one another? Think about, for just one minute, how your sexual lifestyle may influence your dietary lifestyle, or habits, even. (Here I can’t stop thinking about Simon Doonan using the term “lesbian” to describe “wholesome” foods!)