A Vegan Thanksgiving is Still Violent

In light of the Thanksgiving holiday and the recipe guides popping up with increasing frequency on food blogs, I’d like to share with ya’ll a call to take a different approach to Thanksgiving this year.

The Canada-based Native organization Idle No More, along with its branches in Minnesota, have teamed up with the Institute for Critical Animal Studies to ask animal advocacy groups to boycott, ban, and protest Thanksgiving instead of engaging in advocacy themed around this violent holiday. Rather, this coalition is calling for animal advocacy groups to “recognize it as a national day to mourn the genocide by white settlers of Native Americans and First Nation peoples.”

Though I could write in more detail about why Thanksgiving is based in the arrogant ethnocentrism of the settlers who uprooted Native peoples from their land and decimated them, all in the name of building the ever-imperial U.S. as we know it today, I feel that it is more appropriate for me – instead of accepting credit for already-existing information authored by those with historical and familial connections to Native genocide – to refer you to the in-depth, well-written articles that already exist.

Instead of hosting our usual vegan Thanksgiving dinner in the campus dining hall this year, the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) is installing a poster just outside the hall explaining this call from Idle No More and ICAS, and why we have decided to participate in it. We take this action not to “feel good” about ourselves for being “good social justice activists,” but because a group on the front lines of Native struggle is asking groups like ours to take action.

Though I will be sharing a rather more involved and special meal with my loved ones on Thanksgiving day – celebrating not the “peaceful unification” of Native American peoples and white settlers (what bunk) but instead the love I feel for those around me, my appreciation for the harvest season,  and the fact that I have access to its bounty – I plan to do so while recognizing my own positionality as someone who can still easily perpetuate the violent erasure of Native peoples, and actively seeking ways to rail against this tendency. Some starting points for me may include enrolling in a Native Studies course at my college, advocating for my college to hire more Native Studies faculty, and researching the history of Native peoples specific to the geographic context in which I grew up.

Below I’ve copied the text from the Facebook group that includes the call from Idle No More and ICAS:

Calling Animal Advocacy Groups to Boycott, Ban and Protest Thanksgiving


The Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Idle No More Duluth, Idle No More Twin Cities, #NotYourMascot, and other Native organizations (still confirming) are asking all animal advocacy groups to promote social justice this November by boycotting Thanksgiving Day (and any Thanksgiving related events) and recognizing it as a national day to morn a violent genocide by white settlers of Native Americans and First Nations People.

“Boycott” here means not holding public vegan Thanksgiving events and making a commitment not to celebrate Thanksgiving in one’s personal life as well. If you are like us, you believe that veganism is an ethical model for the world; let’s also lead the charge against an out-dated holiday with a make-believe history that covers up the true genocidal history of the U.S.

Turkey or Tofurkey, marshmallows or Dandies, traditional pumpkin pie or dairy-free pumpkin pie—you are still celebrating genocide … and that is *not* vegan.

There is no such thing as a vegan Thanksgiving. Don’t ignore one form of oppression to promote another. Veganism is nonviolence; genocide isn’t.
Animal Advocacy Groups Boycotting Thanksgiving Events (not supporting genocide)

1. Institute for Critical Animal Studies
2. Progress for Science
3. Portland Animal Liberation
4. Student Animal Liberation Coalition
5. Resistance Ecology

In solidarity, Ali.

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