At Colorado Veg Fest in 2012, a feminist speaker named Charlotte Cressey said women share a special bond with animals because they are oppressed by the same school of thought that condones the abuse of women. Cressey was one of two women who spoke that day on the perspective of “eco-feminism”; the other was Lisa Kemmerer, PhD. Both women continue their work in ecofeminism today.
Dr. Kemmerer is a teacher of theology and philosophy at the University of Montana, Billings, and has written books about how the fundamental values of veganism are linked to the fundamental values of the world’s major religions. Her 2011 book: “sister species, women, animals and social justice, was endorsed by another prominent eco-feminist, Carol J. Adams, whose popular works include “The Sexual Politics of Meat, a Feminist-vegetarian Critical Theory”.
“Those who seek greater justice in our world need to work toward a deeper understanding of oppression. Activists need to develop the kind of understanding that will lead to a lifestyle—a way of being—that works against all oppressions,” Kemmerrer wrote in “sister species”.
The philosophy of Ecofeminism is defined by ecofem.org as:
“… the social movement that regards the oppression of women and nature as interconnected. It is one of the few movements and analyses that actually connects two movements.”
Ecofeminism is one of a number of schools of thought within feminism, and is not the defining perspective of American veganism, a movement that is well-known but still in its infancy. About two percent of Americans now define themselves as vegans.
The general definition of a vegan is one who consumes no animal products of any kind, food or otherwise. A vegan in the most fundamental form will not buy or wear leather, wool or other clothing derived from animals, nor will s/he consume any foods with dairy or eggs. And of course, a vegan eats no meat of any kind.
Cressey went vegan sat age 12. She is a former resident of Fort Collins who was active in the Fort Veg*n Meet-up group, is currently vice chairwoman of the International Vegetarian’s Union and a vocal supporter of eco-feminism. She recently relocated to California, where she teaches Yoga and owns and operates Vegan Wellness, a vegan consulting company.
“Compassionate eating [veganism] represents a positive departure from the mindset that encourages humans from dominating and degrading animals, a cultural mentality that also condones the degrading of women and the judging of women by their weight and size.
“Our goal is to co-create a world that honors the unique expressions of and inherent worth in each individual. We work to create a world where all beings are free and joyous. Although we focus on animal liberation, our ultimate goal is liberation for all beings from any chains – seen and unseen – that may bind them,” Cressey states on the Vegan Wellness website.
“More recently, ecofeminist theorists have extended their analyses to consider the interconnections between sexism, the domination of nature (including animals), and also racism and social inequalities. Consequently it is now better understood as a movement working against the interconnected oppressions of gender, race, class and nature.
Cressey remains active in feminism and in steering society away from the mind set of measuring women by their weight, a social issue that is reflective of the same domination-based social model that condones cruel factory farming methods the enable the production of inexpensive meat.