A Reading List for a Vegan Left

A syllabus for understanding veganism as a coherent political philosophy committed to breaking down oppression in all forms

Alicia Kennedy
Published in
3 min readNov 27, 2019

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Photo: Stephanie Foden/Moment/Getty Images

When so much coverage of veganism is divorced from politics, it was a breath of fresh air to read a recent BBC piece covering a boom in vegan restaurants in St. Petersburg, Russia — all run by anarchists.

“Inside, rainbow-flag tote bags, feminist stickers and vegan condoms are sold alongside plant-based Napoleon cakes and reusable straws. In the freezer, there are varenyky and pel’meni dumplings made by She’s Got A Knife, a ‘feminist horizontalist culinary project’,” the piece by Ashitha Nagesh reads. “In a back room, there’s an unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Tempeh Time. It’s dedicated to serving dishes made with tempeh — pronounced ‘tem-pay’ — a protein made from fermented soya beans.”

Nagesh covers quite a bit of vegan anarchist history in the piece, which got me thinking about what a starter reading list for a vegan left would look like. Here, some highly recommended work for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of veganism as a coherent political philosophy that seeks to break down oppression in all its forms.

“Animal Liberation and Social Revolution,” by Brian A. Dominick

This is mentioned in the BBC piece as the piece of writing that coined the term “veganarchist” in 1997. It outlines the interlocking oppressions faced by humans and nonhuman animals, and how a liberal approach to veganism misses significant points. “It is not enough to boycott the meat industry and hope that resources will be re-allocated to feed the hungry,” writes Dominick. “We must establish a system which actually intends to meet human needs, which implies social revolution.”

“The American Left Should Support Animal Rights: A Manifesto,” by Anna E. Charlton, Sue Coe and Gary L. Francione

Here, the three writers respond to the left’s general dismissal of animal rights as a bourgeois concern. “The problem with the view that the animal rights movement finds its roots exclusively in bourgeois ideology is…

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Alicia Kennedy
Tenderly

I’m a food writer from Long Island based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter on food issues: aliciakennedy.substack.com