According to this article, plant-based diets are historically connected with left-wing politics. They cited a lot of historical examples from the French Revolution to Percy and Mary Shelley. The article also mentioned how veganism is connected to early left-wing ideologies, including socialism. And that a lot of historical figures who lean to the left, even to the point of socialism, advocate for plant-based diets.
It Started With The French Revolution
During the same time of the French Revolution, the British left has been adopting a political and ethical vegetarianism. The poet Percy B Shelley and the playwright George Bernard Shaw were two historical figures who adopted vegetarianism. It also said that several British radicals adopted vegetarianism after being influenced by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ideals that advocate for a “natural” state of freedom, peace and equality. Anglo-Jacobin revolutionary John Oswald, radical scholar Joseph Ritson, and publisher George Nicholson promoted the diet as a central element of their arguments for justice. Finally, Percy and Mary Shelley wrote two essays advocating vegetarianism. One of them was called A Vindication of Natural Diet (1813).
Early To Mid-19th Century
When vegetarianism continued with its association with the left, it became a common feature with socialism at the end of the 19th century. It was originally grounded in ethics, but during this time, the arguments about the health benefits and its impact on the environment have been included. The latter was a response to meat production’s impact on the environment and the rise of capitalism and overconsumption. Socialist, humanitarian, and animal rights advocate Henry Salt said that veganism was the ideal. He was influenced by Shelley and the anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin and evolutionary theorist Alfred Russell Wallace, who both stressed the importance of cooperation over competition. Salt argued that all forms of oppression were interconnected and were the root “disease” that needs to be cured. He identified the source as self exploitation and campaigned for socialism, women’s rights, pacifism, vegetarianism, and animal rights. He claimed that these were all connected and they require love, justice, and compassion to every living being, human or animal.
Plant-Based Diets = Liberal And Alternative Views?
The article continues, saying plant-based diets is connected with holistic forms of leftist beliefs. The article depicts leftist beliefs as those who look beyond economics to focus on personal, moral, and spiritual aspects as socialism. They labelled leftism as “libertarian” and “ethical” and talked about a connection between individual and societal change, anti-authoritarianism, and ideas of all-embracing liberation. In a way, this makes sense because eating a vegan diet saves animals from violence towards them by an exploitative society. I also read in another article that most right-wing conservatives are less likely to be vegan than most left-wing liberals. The article claimed that because most conservatives are less likely to believe in social justice, they are less likely to believe in veganism. And because a lot of right-wing politics supports free-market capitalism and the economy, it makes sense why most conservatives are less likely to be vegan as they will most likely support the meat, dairy, fish, and egg industries. And that these industries kill billions of animals for food. Conservatives most likely support big businesses and big money. That is not to say all conservatives hate veganism, as I know some vegans who are conservative Republicans. This shows you do not have to be a liberal to be vegan and you do not have to be conservative to eat meat. I am a vegan, but I am an independent. Although I slightly lean to the left, I am more moderate.
A Lot Of Anti-Vegans I Have Experienced Are Right-Wing Conservatives
A lot of the people I have encountered who made fun of me as a vegan and put me down were conservative Republicans. A lot of my uncles fit the retired Navy veteran stereotype who voted for a Republicans president. They voted for Trump in the 2016 elections. When I revealed myself to be vegan, I got remarks from them, saying that I need meat for protein. That meat is good for you. I also get remarks, such as, “Why are you only eating rice and noodles? Why not meat?” These same uncles and other relatives who made these remarks also voted for Trump and voted for Bush. A lot of them are old-school and prefer tradition over progressive ideas. I also had a lot of guys in my Filipino club with this same stereotype make these same remarks and put down my vegan diet. It is no wonder that veganism is more associated with progressive, left-wing ideas than right-wing ideology. Again, not every conservative is anti-vegan. But I have encountered a lot of people in my Filipino community who fit that stereotype. As a vegan Filipino American, I seem to be going against the grain.
Most Activists And Democrats Are Not Vegan
Another issue to address is why aren’t all environmentalists, women’s rights activists, and Democrats vegan? In a way, they don’t seem like they are real progressives. Yet, Cory Booker, one of the Democratic presidential candidates, is vegan and he’s proving that a future president can be vegan. He did say that no one has to be vegan because he is vegan. He said in an interview with VegNews:
None of us want our government or elected officials preaching to us and telling us what we can or can’t eat. This is the United States of America and I, for one, believe in our freedom to choose. So, I don’t want to preach to anybody about their diets; that’s just now how I live.Cory Booker in an interview with VegNews
Cory Booker is one such example of a vegan running for president of the United States. However, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and others are not vegan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem like she is vegan. I also know someone who is a women’s rights activist but I don’t see her making the switch to a vegan diet as veganism and feminism are related due to how factory farms treat the female cows. She supports women’s rights, yet I would see her eating a steak and consuming dairy, which is indirectly paying to kill these female animals in a factory farm. A lot of environmentalists I have met still eat animal foods and have not considered factory farming as a cause for climate change. We are not perfect and not all of us could become vegan, but animal agriculture should be addressed and that it does relate to all the social issues we are fighting against. Regardless of political views, if you are vegan, you are already considered a true liberal and progressive person, at least according to this article. Even if you are conservative, being a vegan makes you a progressive. And there are some liberal Republicans out there. Of course, President Trump is not a vegan. Yet Million Dollar Vegan launched a campaign to try and get him to be vegan. I wished Trump was vegan.
Meat Associated with Masculinity
The article briefly mentioned that eating meat was associated with masculinity. They also stated that eating meat is associated with militaristic and nationalistic views. This supports the fact that most conservatives are less likely to be vegan. It also fits into the stereotype I see in the Filipino community about the right-wing conservative, retired Navy veteran stereotypes. They are seen in the Filipino community as strong and masculine, and what it means to be a man. And they are the same ones who have criticized my vegan diet and said I should eat meat. What they do not know is that in the Game Changers movie, three male athletes ate a meat-based meal in one trial and ate a plant-based meal in the other trial. The results eventually showed that when the male athletes ate the plant-based diet, they experienced more erections than when they ate the meat-based meal. In addition, the male athletes had stronger erections when they ate the plant-based meal than when they ate the meat-based meal. This shows that being vegan makes you a real man.
I would like to conclude that based on this article, veganism does have a connection to left-wing progressive views. The French Revolution, Percy and Mary Shelley, and many early left-wing activists have shown that being vegan would mean being liberal and libertarian. But you do not have to be liberal to be vegan as I have met some vegans who are right-wing conservatives. However, because most conservatives support big business and industry, they would most likely support the meat, dairy, egg, and seafood industry regardless of the ethics. Also, a lot of environmentalists, women’s rights activists, and gun control activists are not vegan despite veganism’s connection to such issues. And in my experience, most of the people who do not support my vegan diet and lash out against me are right-wing conservatives. You do not have to be a left-leaning liberal to be vegan as anyone can be vegan regardless of political views. But most of the conservatives in my experience have fit the stereotype. Sadly, this backwards thinking is not going to work in this changing world, especially with climate change as a reality and the younger generation reducing their meat intake due to the climate crisis. The world is going forward, not backwards.