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There are many branches of feminism, but something that recurs across various feminist ideologies is the idea that consuming meat and dairy is anti-feminist. Women who identify as feminist but consume animal-derived products have been accused of speciesism, or only caring about the rights of human women. Of course, the issue gets more complex when considering something like race; women of color are still treated poorly, but the rights of female animals are now a top priority of certain feminists.
There seems to be no winning with such a topic, because those who defend the consumption of meat will only continue to do so, not considering the points made by feminists who support animals. Then, of course, there are feminist activists of various races, ages, and backgrounds who may also consume meat, and defend their decision to do so, just so their diets and entire way of thinking does not have to be changed. Certain religions and philosophies equate the life of an ant to that of a human being, and say that they are both sacred. Of course, it would seem problematic to compare the life of a female cow to the life of a woman of color, for example. To address this issue, one must acknowledge the realistic differences between women and animals.
That being said, someone who consumes meat might have a hard time relating to an animal, even if they are a feminist, unless they consider the hardships animals face being inflicted upon human beings. Branding, forced breeding, stealing babies from their mothers the moment they are born, and force-feeding chemicals to the mother to produce more milk, seem like unimaginable acts, even in the worst of places. Nevertheless, this is the daily reality in the life of a female animal (most often cows, chickens, and pigs). Just as a man should not have to think of his mother, sister, or other loved woman to better understand feminism, one should not have to imagine themselves in the role of the animal to better understand why it is an epidemic, but if it helps raise awareness it can be effective.
A common misunderstanding of feminism is that feminists hate men, which couldn't be further from the truth. Feminists support equality of the sexes as well as dismantle harmful stereotypes that contribute to the way men are perceived and further perceive themselves. That being said, feminists who believe meat consumption is anti-feminist also care about the male animals being exploited.
As race can create complexities, mentioned earlier, so too can the economy. Meat has become a normality, a delicacy, especially in the United States. Completely shutting down this industry would create displacement and unemployment in the thousands. Over time, though, the earth would look better, the animals would be free, and everyone would adjust, as they always do. In the future, people may look back in shock and disbelief that animals were killed for their meat. If someone likes meat for the taste, they have to look no further than their nearest grocery store for an aisle of substitutes that taste exactly the same, if not better. Therefore, there is no realistic excuse to support the meat industry unless it is to support jobs, which is highly unlikely.
This article is not meant to shame or persuade anyone, rather its intent is to make the reader (you) question your own place in this system. If you are a feminist, do you agree with the points made, or do you think of animals as being completely separate from feminism? If you are not a feminist, does this argument for feminism make you glad you're not one? (I hope not!)
Despite how one feels about animals, it's hard to argue that a mother does not love her child. If your cat has ever given birth, if you've ever used the internet at all in your life and found yourself in an abyss of cute animal videos, you cannot disagree that a mother animal feels a connection to her child. This emotional bond is a sign of intelligence, and who are we to take away a mother's child just because she is of another species? Look in the eyes of your pet and you will see love reflected right back at you, and look in the eyes of an animal in a slaughterhouse and you will see fear, pain, and worry. Animals are different than humans, but they are not stupid. They can be mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons, and should not be denied the basic freedoms that we have.