living in the gap


Feminism and vegetarianism have so much in common in the ways they are misunderstood.

Feminism is often viewed as a fight against men. It isn’t. It’s a struggle to change the direction of how most human societies have naturally evolved. We’re animals who have flourished in numbers by successfully breeding. And the breeding instinct has clearly been very strong, along with the lack of alternative outcome to fulfilling mainstream heterosexual sexual desires. So women in most human societies were usually fully occupied in a cycle of breeding, nurturing and child-rearing from a very early age, and till a relatively early death. Men tended to assume the roles of protector, provider and leader. There was nothing ‘wrong’ with this – there was little scope for alternative.

Vegetarianism is often viewed as a fight against meat-eaters. It isn’t. It’s a struggle to change the direction of how most of our societies have naturally evolved. We’re animals who have flourished by eating other animals. And the base urge, cultural ingraining and pleasure principle are all clearly strong. So animals in most societies are lost in a cycle of ‘use’ by humans, resulting in the appalling large-scale disposable attitude to sentient lives we currently experience.

We know, thanks to birth control, wars, technological advances and a vast body of research into endless variables, that there’s no logical reason to treat women differently from men in human society. Women can make decisions, women can vote, women can invent, women can manage, women can lead.

We also know, thanks to observation and scientific research, that animals feel pain, stress and attachment not unlike what we call ‘love’. We know the industry that provides the flesh of dead animals for the fancy of our taste buds puts strain on our planet. We know we can fulfill all our nutritional needs more efficiently without creating sentient beings to live stressful lives that end in stressful deaths. There’s no logical reason to eat meat.

We live in the gap. We have the information easily to hand, yet there is still incredible sexism in the world, and there is an incredibly complacent attitude to the lives of our animal friends.

But don’t feel down-hearted, don’t despair about the rate of change. Our species continues to grow and evolve, and we can have faith that as social animals with empathy as a key characteristic, these awful features of our current society will soon be a curious history lesson. (Of course, given the length of time it takes for such massive cultural change, ‘soon’ can’t be expected for a few generations yet …)