From 10-dollar plant-based smoothies in trendy Californian cafés to Vegan helmets in the Israeli Defense Force, Veganism is as diverse as it is topical. What is Veganism really all about, where has it come from and where is it heading? Is it a religion, a social movement, or an ideology?
This week I talk with Nina Gheihman, a sociologist at Harvard. Nina is currently pursuing her PhD, focusing on a comparative study of veganism as a cultural practice in the US, France, and Israel. She is also the President of the Harvard Vegan society, as well as the Program Director of the Ivy League Vegan Conference, and is the founder of the community advocacy group Boston Plant-Based Millennials.
In this episode, we explore Veganism in all its forms and all its wonders. We discuss how Veganism has evolved and transformed over time, how its adapting to different cultural contexts around the world, and how its grappling with a growing popularity that has it moving, slowly but surely, towards the mainstream.
We’ll talk about:
- Defining Veganism: a loaded, slippery term
- The roots of Vegetarianism and Veganism in Eastern and Western philosophies
- Is Veganism a religion?
- The formation of the first vegetarian society in the 19th century: a tragic mistake?
- The ideological tenets of Veganism (animal rights, health and plant-based diets, saving the environment) and its move towards the mainstream
- Skeptical vegans and practical vegans: will only impending doom shift the tide towards Veganism?
How veganism is evolving differently across different cultures:
Veganism in America: the decoupling of animal rights from Veganism
Veganism in France: animal rights and cultural heritage
Veganism in Israel: militarized notions of Veganism in the Israeli Defense Force
Is Veganism elitist? Is it only for the select few in the Western world that can afford it?
- Veganism in the developing world
- The future of Veganism: What’s next?
- A message to millennials from Nina
- Melanie Joy (2011) Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism
- Melanie Joy TEDx Talk: Beyond Carnism and Towards Rational Authentic Food Choices
- Tristram Stuart (2008) The Bloodless Revolution: A History of Vegetarianism
- Gary Yourofsky (Vegan activist) - Official Youtube Channel
- Pierre Bourdieu (1987) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste
- Steinfeld, H., et al., (2006) Livestock’s long shadow. Environmental Issues and Options, FAO, Rome.
- WHO (2015) Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat, Q&A session
- On Nina's dissertation: see Veganism: An Elegant Solution to a Host of Global Problems? and her talk at the Global Food + 2017 conference
- Ivy League Vegan Conference website
- Tepperman & Gheihman (2013) Habits of Inequality