Thirteen years ago today, while I was still living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, just south of Los Gatos, California, and still working toward my master’s degree, I drove up to a vegan sandwich shop in Oakland, not far from the Oakland Tribune building. And I tried a sandwich.
Faux meat was good, I decided. I, who hated vegetables, who thought green is the color of decay, could go vegan. And so I did. That very evening.
It was, I thought, compatible with my anarchism, extending an ethic of non-domination to non-human animals. This, indeed, is at the core of vegetarian ecofeminism and animal rights theory, which treat our relations with the environment and with non-human animals as indistinguishable from our relations with each other. If human animals cannot be property, then so, too, it must be with non-human animals.
Which makes this really very easy:
This is definitely the most bizarre question I have ever seen on a job application
— Beeta (@beetagolsh) May 4, 2021
The construction of the question is a giveaway: The act of "giving" you an elephant does not make the elephant yours to keep, sell, or give away. The answer is to take the elephant home –its home.
— David Benfell, Ph.D. (@n4rky) May 4, 2021
It is likely my most “liked” post ever. People seem to have thought this response clever, even “[b]rilliant.” But really, it isn’t. It’s simply the answer that probably any vegetarian ecofeminist or animal rights theorist would offer.
Jesus Christ, why are we asking applicants literal riddles in interviews
— Jonathan (@JonnyBoyGuy) May 4, 2021
This does not actually respond to my reply, so seems to me be poorly placed in the thread, but another responded,
Correct question! The answer is: Employers have so much power in the current and recent economy that they can act like bridge trolls in the hiring process.
— Bethann Morris (@Bethann37) May 5, 2021
Certainly, there’s truth to that.
Yet another had earlier responded,
you've been outed as a leftist and will never have a legal job again
— 🏄🏼 (@Teh_Real_E) May 4, 2021
And well, yeah, that’s been an ongoing problem for twenty years now, longer, in fact, than I’ve been vegan. Although having worked (briefly) for a capitalist libertarian vegan, and having encountered others of at least similar persuasion, I would say I have been “outed,” as if I was keeping any of this a secret, not as a leftist, although I rather obviously am and vegetarian ecofeminism rather obviously is, but as a vegan—which might be worse.
I still see my fellow vegans fending off trolls on Twitter. They pay a very high price for their advocacy and deserve applause for their dedication. I only occasionally participate, where I think I can offer a unique, or at least relatively unique, contribution.
I live in Pittsburgh now, where it’s much harder to be vegan than in California. But I still eat a lot of fake meat (also nuts and fruits). (Try not to notice when I eat a vegetable.) Oh yeah, and I’m still vegan.
- In Speech Communication, at California State University, East Bay. I’ve since earned a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University.↩
- Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella, II, eds. Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? (New York: Lantern 2004); Greta Gaard, “Vegetarian Ecofeminism: A Review Essay,” Frontiers 23, no. 3 (2002): 117-146.↩
- Tusbear, “Fascinating and excellent response, I think. . . .” Twitter, May 4, 2021, https://twitter.com/Tusbear/status/1389674041724702721↩
- ziska, Twitter, May 4, 2021, https://twitter.com/ziskacomm/status/1389819343148572672↩
- David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/↩
- British Broadcasting Corporation, “Sacked vegan brings landmark discrimination case,” January 2, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-50969168; George Reynolds, “Why do people hate vegans?” Guardian, October 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/25/why-do-people-hate-vegans; Telegraph, “Veganism is a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by law, judge rules,” January 3, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/03/veganism-philosophical-belief-therefore-protected-law-judge/↩
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