Sizeism is rampant in the animal “movement,” and unfortunately, it is widely accepted under the guise of caring for human health. This meme came through my Facebook newsfeed recently, shared by a vegan:
This meme is problematic for many reasons, some of which I will go into below.
Different types of discrimination are different symptoms of the same disease—otherization.
So it is disappointing, but not surprising, to see sizeism in the animal “movement.” It is not surprising because many types of discrimination are tolerated in the animal “movement”—sexism and racism, no doubt. But the problem is when we tolerate one type of discrimination, we may not realize it, but we tolerate all types of discrimination. The tolerance of any type of discrimination is the breeding ground for all types of discrimination so if we are not vigilant in identifying and rejecting all types of discrimination, our movement will fail.
Sizeism in the animal “movement” is as ridiculous and out of place as sizeism in the anti-human slavery movement. Veganism is an ethical position about nonhuman animals that happens to result in a change of diet.
Are all vegans “skinny?” Nope.
Are all vegans “fat?” Nope.
Are all vegans “healthy?” Nope.
Are some vegans “skinny?” Yep.
Are some vegans “fat?” Yep.
Are some vegans “healthy?” Yep.
And importantly, can you diagnose someone’s health with your eyes? Nope. And really, why are you trying to diagnose someone’s health? Are you a doctor?
Does one have to have a certain body size or type to accept the ethical position that it is wrong to use nonhuman animals? Nope.
Does human health matter in the animal “movement?” Sure. But only to the extent it matters in any justice movement.
Does human health matter in the anti-slavery “movement?” Sure. But only to the extent it matters in any justice movement.
One of the most insidious ways that sizeism is perpetuated in the animal “movement” is under the guise of caring for human health. So let’s get real:
“This is not about health. Judging people in the name of health is like hitting someone in the name of peace.” – Erin Brown
There is no moral difference—none—between the different types of discrimination and oppression. They all come from that part of ourself that includes some persons in our moral community and excludes others. The bottom line is sizeism is wrong and harmful to our fellow vegans and the animal “movement.” There is no excuse for it.
“[The] rejection of all oppression which is inherently violent, unjust, and interrelated” is part of The Abolitionist Vegan Society’s mission because we know that truly, if we tolerate and fail to reject any type of discrimination, we tolerate, accept, and therefore perpetuate all types of discrimination. And discrimination is what we are trying to end.
Sarah K. Woodcock
Founder and Executive Director
The Advocacy of Veganism Society