Vegetarianism: Humane, Healthy& Sustainable

Vegetarianism: Humane, Healthy, Sustainable
I have been anxiously anticipating this week’s “Blog “assignment. My family are all vegetarians (not vegan). My husband has been a vegetarian for over 40 years. I became a vegetarian 15 years ago. Most of our children have followed this same dietary path.

In my opinion, the image above represents a negative commentary on the practice of eating meat. There is a steak knife inserted into the meat itself. It looks like a scene from a “murder” movie. I interpret this to be symbolic of the animal being killed by either a food company or private individuals without regard for the animal’s life. The pseudo “Pillsbury Doughboy Chef”, does not have any facial features. To me, this means that they are not acknowledging the source of the food and/or taking any responsibility for preparing it and perpetuating the practice of slaughtering animals. The “food” is served on an attractive, clean wooden cutting board.  The meat itself is representative of male Machismo” “But with meat still being the “manly” choice, it may become even harder for male consumers to opt for a meat-free lifestyle, even if they support it in theory. It’s hard to shift an individual’s perception without first tackling their society’s view.” (Meat Heads, Huffington Post). The pieces of meat are uniformly cut with no blood. There is no indication that what is being served was once a living being. It is common practice to try and distance the customer from the actual source when eating an animal. I imagine if this scene was in a restaurant and there were photographs of pigs and cows adorning the walls in lovely settings on rolling hills with clover under hoof there would still be a weak if nonexistent connection from the customer back to the source and process of preparing the meat for consumption. Imagine the restaurant walls filled with photographs of dead carcasses, mutilated animals and crying offspring….would they still want to “enjoy” their meal? Unfortunately, I believe many people still would. Animal Slaughter – The Madness Behind Killing Animals For Food (Video) (

Using the US as an example According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 5% of U.S. adults consider themselves to be vegetarian.

U.S. Adults 5
Men 4
Women 6

“The love for all creatures, is the most noble attribute of man”. Charles Darwin  1871.  Animal Kill Clock (

Some interesting vegetarian statistics are:

  • Nonwhite Americans (9%) are three times as likely as white Americans (3%) to describe themselves as vegetarian.
  • 11% of self-identified liberals identify as vegetarian, compared with 2% of conservatives and 3% of moderates.
  • Vegetarianism is less prevalent among older Americans: 2% of adults aged 55 and older say they adhere to a vegetarian diet, compared with 8% of 18- to 34-year-olds and 7% of 35- to 54-year-olds.
Gendered Food Bias:

This term relates to both the conscious and subconscious messages about food and diet that are continually being received. Our food choices are impacted by the information and extent to which we are exposed to this sort of conditioning. For instance, in our Western culture, diet and thinness in women symbolizes that they may be more affluent, sexy, intelligent and engaging. An “overweight woman” may be seen as socially less desirable and even less intelligent. The same stereotype does not generally get attributed to men.  “Backed up by the entertainment industry is the idea that the bloodier the steak, the more manly the man, the same way it once was with the man smoking cigarettes.” (Meat Heads, Huffington Post). The word “diet” simply relates to what a person actually eats. It does not necessarily mean that a person is “watching their diet” or concerned about its content. Much of the opinions about diet, weight and gender differences has nothing to do with any real scientific evidence. It is socially based. Different types of food bias can be a factor in creating unhealthy, even dangerous food practices especially for women like anorexia. A women’s self-worth is tied to their weight more than a male’s weight is. The visual appearance of how food might “look” in advertisements can also be problematic.  Some examples of stereotypic food bias especially in America would be the male portrayed and barbequing “meat”. This seems reminiscent of Neanderthal ideology. Women may feel compelled to eat “light” especially during a date or in public. The ever popular “salad” is often depicted. Of course, many salads are much unhealthier than many other food choices. It is not unusual for a woman to say “I have been so bad today, I ate ……….”. ”

Feminists and ecofeminists alike have noted ways that animal pejoratives are used to dehumanize women….sow, bitch, beaver etc. (Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations by Greta Gaard). Speciesism is a form of oppression that reinforces other oppression. Sympathy and empathy do provide the foundation for vegetarian ecofeminism. “I envision a time when all humans recognize ourselves as merely one species of animals,  and restore right relations with the rest of our extended family. (Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations by Greta Gaard). Contextual moral vegetarianism represents a response to a politicized ecological ethic of care. Toward an Ecological Ethic of Care | Hypatia | Cambridge Core.

Deane Curtain has written scholarly articles on the topic of “Moral Vegetarianism” which is the process of exploring ecological ethics and in doing so enables a person to more closely evaluate their ethic as it relates to an understanding of food.  Some examples of this are ritualized violence against non-humans. For example, the Japanese have a Shinto ceremony that pays respect to the insects that are killed during rice planting. Tibetans, who as Buddhists have not generally been drawn to vegetarianism, nevertheless give their own bodies back to the animals in an ultimate act of thanks by having their corpses hacked into pieces as food for the birds.

Just as there are gender-specific reasons for women’s commitment to vegetarianism, for men in a patriarchal society moral vegetarianism can mark the decision to stand in solidarity with women. “Real people do not need to eat “real food,” as the American Beef Council would have us believe.”

Contextual Moral Vegetarianism, by Deane Curtin (


An Introspective View of Nature’s Impact on “Whole Life” Satisfaction

A Look Backwards at Nature’s Impact Whole Life Satisfaction

I will start by making a general “assumption” about myself compared to my fellow classmates. Forgive me if my personal perspective is inaccurate.

I am 63 years old, pursuing an additional degree in WGS subsidized by the VA. This particular post is the most interesting and personally relevant. I will begin by describing myself as “An extremely sensitive empath.” My momentary “state-of-mind” is easily manipulated by outside forces and circumstances. Reflecting back to my childhood, the best memories I still hold are spending time in my neighbor’s “magical property”. In a stereotypic suburban neighborhood, our backyard neighbor was an elderly woman who had owned the land for many years. The property was an “anomaly” in the otherwise homogenized suburban sprawl. There was a fishpond, beautiful large trees, vegetable and flower gardens and many different types of wildlife. It was the idyllic place to play and commune with nature. It was a secret garden filled with wonder and magic.

The photo below is the only one in my office (other than my grandchildren). It reminds me of the “Best of Times”…and after some reflecting…almost all of my memories are centered some way around “nature”.

Four Corners USA 

Myself and my 2 older sons at "4 Corners" US 1998
This photo is the only one in my office of “family”. It was taken 25 years ago. It was a very special time. I now have a third son and granddaughter.

This photo does symbolize “My Bedrock Democracy” . “Once strengthened by our association with the wild, we can return to family and community.  Each of us belongs to a particular landscape, one that informs who we are, a place that carries our history, our dreams, holds us to a moral line of behavior that transcends thought”. ….”This is the hope of a bedrock democracy, standing our ground in the places we love together. “(Williams 19). There are many times I feel like a displaced person. The forces between nature and modern “civilization” in the Western world seem diametrically opposed. 

Bell Hooks writes: “How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of water, how do you buy them? To me this statement is fact and not an opinion. In this case, Bell Hooks defines place as “everywhere”.

Personally, like many people, I am a Barbara Kingsolver fan. I found this week’s writings especially relevant “….. I didn’t need to be in Africa as I wrote that book; I only needed to be where I could think straight, remember, and properly invent. I needed the blessed emptiness of mind that comes from birdsong and dripping trees. I needed to sleep at night in a square box made of chestnut trees who died of natural causes. The natural habitat of our species is now steel, pavement, streetlights, architecture and enterprise — the hominid agenda . … I find this exodus from the land makes me unspeakably sad Kingsolver It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd.” (Barbara Kingsolver).

Collectively, these writers all have a central common variable. People and nature are not disconnected from one another, they are a part of one another.  We were born from the water and will return to the earth. Politics can be an ally or an enemy against humanity when it fails to prioritize and unify what laws and practices are beneficial to both humanity as well as nature…..we are all the same. In this philosophy: place + people = politics. 

My profession is in the educational technology field, but I devote time to forming and directing a “Green Committee”. One of my favorite parts of my job is taking young children to a neighboring topiary garden after school to learn about plants and trees. During the work day, my background “noise” are bird song playlists.

I am fortunate enough to live next to a beach in MA. In the warmer weather, I get up early to walk the beach before most other people arrive in order to shoot photographs of the beach from a different, untouched perspective.

Beach Photos

What is Ecofeminism?

Women’s Contribution to Food Production and Environmental Degradation in the Global South is often Underrated and Inaccurate
Pin by Tok ZeSox on nature's quote | Vandana shiva, Nature quotes, Hatred
Women in the Global South are affected more significantly by food production and environmental concerns than in the Global North.
Vandana Shiva, is a powerful representation of a female eco-feminist activist in the Global South. She concentrates her initiatives in non-western environmentalism. Shiva does not see humans and nature as separate (indeed, that way of thinking is partially responsible for our ecological crisis); rather, she sees living creatures as interconnected to our “mother” earth.
“Women’s work is also invisible because women are concentrated outside market related or remunerated work and they are normally engaged in multiple tasks.
Science and technology have rendered women’s knowledge and productivity invisible by ignoring the dimension of diversity in agriculture production. As the FAO report on women feed the world mentions, women use more plant diversity, both cultivated and uncultivated, than agricultural scientists know about. In Nigerian home gardens, women plant 18 – 57 plant species. In Sub – Saharan Africa women cultivate as many as 120 different plants in the spaces alongside the cash crops managed by man.”
*Shiva, V. 1998. “Strengthening Women’s Capacity to Feed the World, 1998 World Food
Day Keynote Speech 16 October 1998 – Bangkok,
We women, in all our vibrant and fabulous diversity, have witnessed the increasing aggression against the human spirit, human mind and human body and the continued invasion of an assault upon the Earth and all her diverse species. And we are enraged.
The terms “Global North and Global South” do not represent separating the world into two geographical halves.  It is a more holistic term including political and social, economic and political concepts. Specifically, low income, highly and densely populated, inadequate infrastructure and marginalization. Most of the “Global South” countries reside within the regions of Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Women and girls are more susceptible to the negative effects of environmental degradation.

“Women and girls usually have the responsibility of fetching water. This can be a dangerous, time-consuming and physically demanding task. Long journeys by foot, often more than once a day, can leave women and girls vulnerable to attack and often precludes them from school or earning an income. For women and girls, sanitation is about personal safety. Girls are at an increased risk of abuse and assault. Women and girls have specific hygiene needs. Lack of safely managed water and sanitation is an equality issue. Access to water and sanitation are human rights”. “Fewer than 50 countries have laws or policies that specifically mention women’s participation in rural sanitation or water resources management”. (UN-Water, 2021).

The World Economic Forum

Agarwal is an ecofeminist like Hobgood-Oster, but she has a different perspective.  identify the central differences and commonalities between ecofeminism from a Western perspective and a non-Western perspective.

Considering both Hobgood-Oster and Bina Agarwal’s philosophies in terms of women and the environment, I would personally choose Agarwal’s philosophy over Hobgood-Oster’s.Bina Agarwal: «Diseguaglianze di genere, le cooperative di donne ...

I appreciate that Agarwal’s area of interest is heavily weighted towards rural economies. Her multi-disciplinary approach includes the land, the polices related to gender, inequality as well as poverty, property rights, agriculture and an interdisciplinary approach, to provide insights on land, livelihoods and property rights; environment and development; the political economy of gender; poverty and inequality; law; gender inequality, agriculture and technological change. She certainly is all inclusive and casts a wide net when assessing the problems that women in the Global South face related to environmental concerns and commodities.










Ecofeminism as defined by Dr. Hopgood-Oster, is “simultaneously serving as an environmental critique of feminism and a feminist critique of environmentalism. Ecofeminism asserts that all forms of oppression are connected and that structures of oppression must be addressed in their totality.”

Some of the barriers to ecofeminism include different forms of oppression.  Not only can this be found in nature without human intervention, but also by the traditional patriarchal culture of male domination. Certainly, oppression is a reoccurring theme.

“Ecofeminism is multi-faceted and multi-located, challenging structures rather than individuals. By confronting systems of patriarchy, ecofeminism broadens the scope of the cultural critique and incorporates seemingly disparate but, according to ecofeminism, radically connected elements.” (Hopgood-Oster).

Ecofeminism highlights non-violence, cooperation and sustainability. Ideally this is achieved via cooperation and education, not oppression and other forms of violence. While some theorize that women innately have a tendency towards being more empathic and cooperative, I believe that this philosophy is gender restrictive. “Ecofeminism claims that patriarchal structures justify their dominance through categorical or dualistic hierarchies: heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature, white/non-white” (Hopgood-Oster).

 Ecofeminism purports that all forms of oppression are interconnected and that the structures of oppression have to be addressed holistically. “Ecofeminist positions reflect varied political stances that may be, and usually are, transformed through time and place. In other words, the political activisms and alliances stemming from ecofeminism modify in relationship to the perceived justice issues being confronted in differing cultural and historical settings. Because of this constant morphing, ecofeminism simultaneously challenges patriarchies from different angles.” (Hopgood-Oster). 

There are examples of cultures that do not fall stereotypically into this definition of oppression and conflict. It is obvious that religion as well as colonization and domination of cultures has been an integral part of causing the conflict between the “natural and the human made world”.

Many native cultures regard nature with respect.  They also have a strong sense of place and belonging. This sustains knowledge and ways of life that coincide with modern initiatives of nature conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

“Unsurprisingly, indigenous peoples have been stout opponents of development imposed from beyond their communities. They defend their lands against illegal encroachments and destructive exploitation, from mega-dams across their rivers to logging and mining in their forests. That can make them ideal custodians of the landscapes and ecosystems that are also central to efforts to limit climate change and adapt to its effects. But it also makes them targets. Communities who stand up against powerful economic and political interests remain under intense pressure in many parts of the world”.

A logical connection between women and nature can be evidenced in the reproduction cycle. Both nature and women conceive, bear and care for others. This is a natural instinct and parallels nature.

| Marxist ecofeminists | MR Online