About

Hello! I’m Ali Seiter – the woman behind the blog Chickpeas & Change (formerly Farmers Market Vegan). Here, I try to work through issues of anti-speciesism, anti-racism, and feminism from a burgeoning revolutionary socialist perspective.

I’m a Geography major at Vassar College, originally hailing from Madison, WI, with penchants for acroyoga, organization, cooperative living, and Harry Potter. When not fantasizing about my next tattoo, I coordinate volunteer trips to local farmed animal sanctuaries for the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC). Hop on over to my Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest for more, and read on for a more nuanced version of myself…

Alessandra Edited

For five years starting in my junior year of high school, my identity revolved around veganism and working toward the liberation of other animals. And for good reason: not only did the violence of species-based oppression provide me with my first “social justice awakening,” so to speak, but the intention behind a vegan diet quite literally saved my life from a ravaging eating disorder.

With veganism and animal activism most commonly framed as a consumer boycott of goods that depend upon the commodification of the bodies of other animals, I misguidedly understood the goal of my veganism as a mere dismantling of animal-based industries (agriculture, science labs, entertainment venues, etc.). However, because this goal only replaces animal-based production with a vegan market, it operates well within the present political-economic order of capitalism, which by definition seeks to commodify anything and everything it can get its hands on – living or inanimate. By perpetuating the myth of “consumer power,” my animal activism was playing right into the speciesist idea that “human beings are superior to all of the other beings on earth, and that this superiority grants us a natural right to make use of the other beings however we like.” Sure, I practiced vegan consumption habits, but I definitely wasn’t challenging the internalized superiority that I believed I as a human held over other animals. (Read more about the connections between veganism & consumerism here.)

Of course, if I couldn’t recognize my own intellectual arrogance in regards to other animals, I certainly couldn’t recognize how that same arrogance rendered me complicit in the oppressive relationships between colonizers and colonized (colonialism), Westerners and “traditional” societies (imperialism), owners and consumers (capitalism), and the like.

After this wake-up call – instigated thanks to the groundbreaking work of feminist, anti-racist, and anti-speciesist activists (many of whom are listen on my Resources page) – the reasons behind my veganism experienced a profound shift. Once a consumer boycott at the forefront of my politics, my veganism morphed into one among many attempts to question the default ideologies – in this case, speciesism – under which I’ve operated since childhood, and that infringe upon my ability to coexist with others. In other words, my veganism has become an extension of my efforts to foster a truly anti-speciesist politics – a means rather than an end.

Today, I conceptualize my broader politics as a never-ending practice of radical humility, grounded in an ever-developing understanding of revolutionary socialism.

One of the main goals of this blog is to confront the problematic aspects of the current white-dominated vegan movement, including its racism, sexism, ableism, and focus on consumer-based strategies.

Because these outgrowths of the capitalist system would exist even if I did not eat a vegan diet, and my giving up vegan consumption habits would prevent me from truly challenging my own internalized speciesism, I don’t think that combating such exploitative facets of today’s vegan movement should involve dismissing vegan consumer habits altogether. However, in order to de-center vegan consumption practices in my anti-speciestist activism, I try to focus on framing speciesism as another outgrowth of the capitalist system that we must necessarily eradicate on the path toward collective liberation for all beings, to support the work of marginalized anti-speciesist activists, and to de-colonize my mind from all dominant ideologies of violence.

Of course, throughout this exhausting yet fulfilling work, I gotta eat. That’s where the chickpeas come in. So join me (perhaps by contributing a blog post?) in building up the revolutionary community, fueled by plenty of sandwiches, smoothies, and ice cream.

In solidarity, Ali.

28 thoughts on “About

  1. emadoren says:

    I am SO happy I found your blog through #WIAW!!! I’ve been searching for a great vegan blog and yours is just what I’ve been looking for! I am excited to follow you on your adventures 🙂

    • Ali Seiter says:

      OODLES of thanks to you, Kristy! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your kindness and support. Your blog serves as an inspiration for me and I greatly admire your work, as well.

    • Ali Seiter says:

      And I’M thrilled to learn of your Vassar alum-ness! VARC is fantastic–I love our group this year. Our treasurer interned with Mercy for Animals and still actively works with them (which I definitely intend to do in the future). Right now, we’re gearing up for our trip to Wesleyan to attend the Marti Kheel “Finding a Niche for All Animals” conference on November 9th and 10th as well as planning our annual Thanksgiving Feed-In.

  2. eyechow says:

    Hi, I love following your blog so I nominated you for a Leibster Blog Award! It looks like you might have already done it but thought I’d let you know anyways 🙂 check out eyechow.com today for the rules. I look forward to reading your responses! -Val

    • Ali Seiter says:

      Oh, thank you so much, Val! I’m so glad to have your support for my humble corner of the blogosphere and will definitely answer the Liebster questions you asked in my next post. 🙂

  3. Obsessive nutrition compulsive says:

    Hi Ali,
    I am deeply impressed by your blog! It is so well-written, the language used is so novel-like which is just lovely. I am also very interested in the types of healthy eating you are promoting through your blog. I read in one of your posts about settling into Vassar college, and came across this part where you described a smoothie you made including maca root powder. I was wondering why you were taking maca root powder because you are so young! Its properties are not really something young women would need, right?
    Anyway, I am applying to Vassar college for the fall semester, so it would be awesome to meet you in person too!
    Best,
    Izzy

    • Ali Seiter says:

      Izzy–

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I used to incorporate maca into my diet simply because I loved its malt-like taste. However, I’ve since cut down on the amount of specialty foods that I buy (student budget, don’t-cha know). Good luck with your Vassar-related endeavors! If you do end up here in the fall, definitely shoot me an email and we can meet up. 🙂

  4. Lillie McDonough says:

    So happy to have found this blog from a Vassar alum! My dear housemate of a few years and fellow vegan, Mollie, was very involved in and perhaps even in charge of VARC for a while (memory failing on this one…). Many happy nights making vegan cookies for your bakesales! 🙂 Anyway, so happy you are at the helm now and posting such delicious things!
    -Lillie

    • Ali Seiter says:

      Oh, awesome! I’m always thrilled to hear from those involved previously with VARC. If you’d ever like to further get in touch with the club, we’d love to chat with you. 🙂

  5. Harry Hillestad says:

    Found your blog today and have subscribed. Living up north in Norway it is’nt easy to get vegetables with good quality all the year, but soon we enter the summer season here and we can harvest all the wild and tasty plants. As we have sun 24/7 in the summertime plants usually get a higher amount of active substanses witch make them taste better. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  6. Sophie33 says:

    Hi Ali!
    I am not a vegan but do cook, eat & bake vegan at least 5x/week! I also blog about it! You have a cool blog here! 😉
    Many greetings from a foodie from Belgium! x

  7. gabsodon says:

    Hi Ali! I have not ben a consistent reader of your blog, probably just linked up to recipes in the past. I feel like I’ve been missing out! I finally started reading, and I love that you talk about so much more than recipes! The food is great of course, but I love your progressive news and links to podcasts and books. My to-read list is now getting even longer. I subscribed and am looking forward to reading more 🙂

  8. A.P. says:

    Hi Ali – I love the blog’s name change (so cute!) along with your amazing recipes.

    I want to acknowledge how great I think it is that you are looking at vegan consumer culture, and consumer culture in general. I find unconscious thoughts constantly creeping up, asking: Do I need a soy-milk frother? A dehydrator? A tempeh-making kit? Most of the time, the answer is “no” – I don’t need more stuff, or most of the “stuff” I even have. The “stuff” that I do need isn’t necessarily new – sometimes I just need to repurpose things I already own – and sometimes, I need to stop focusing on ownership all together. That being said, you’ve acknowledged that we all consume (“combating such exploitative facets of today’s vegan movement does not involve dismissing vegan consumer habits altogether”) while wanting to move away from consumer-based vegan activism and towards a larger picture (“However, in order to de-center vegan consumption practices in my anti-speciestist activism, I try to focus on framing species-based oppression as a social justice issue that we must necessarily eradicate on the path toward collective liberation for all beings, to support the work of marginalized anti-speciesist activists, and to de-colonize my mind from all dominant ideologies of violence..”) That being said, do you think that consumer boycotts (or changed buying preferences) can fit into your worldview and into truly liberating, ant-speciest activism, and if so, how?

    All the best!

    • Ali Seiter says:

      Hey, Adrienne! Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog’s new direction. I’m glad some of its content resonates with you. In terms of consumer boycotts, if I do choose to change my buying habits, I do so with the knowledge that it’s almost certainly not challenging larger structures (definitely not capitalism) and is therefore merely a mental mechanism for me to be able to feel like I’m acting accordingly with certain beliefs (i.e., buying vegan foods helps me to feel like I’m not contradicting my anti-speciesist politics). The one exception I can think of, which another blog reader wisely pointed out, is if the call for that consumer boycott calls from the workers producing a certain product, for then it becomes an act of solidarity. But those are just my two cents!

  9. Martha says:

    I see you have fellow Vassar students – I am a fellow Madisonite! I’m considerably older than you – I was at UW when the tear gas was wafting over the campus in the late 60’s! I’ve been vegetarian over 35 years and now vegan for 25 – yay! I have recently been consuming lots of true animal rights info, as you describe in your announcement of the “new” blog. Take it from someone who’s been around for awhile – there’s always something new to learn and even new ways of being and looking at the world. Best wishes for your blog – I’ll be watching and reading!

  10. Martha says:

    Say, are you aware of the World Vegan Summit taking place in LA in March? It’s definitely the place to be for those who want to see animals gain the respect and rights they deserve. WorldVeganSummit.com

  11. chedog says:

    … except I can verify as someone who worked closely with the World Vegan Summit that it precisely replicated all the issues with(in) the vegan consumerist (aka so-called “abolitionist”) movement so well articulated here. The critique provided by this blog is an essential ingredient of a truly revolutionary, intersectional and anti-oppression political movement. The World Vegan Summit, and its male-dominated, hierarchical, bourgeois individualist Weltanschauung was, sadly, while Feel Good, not on the track to liberation for all species and the replacement of capitalism with a more humane system.

    • Ali Seiter says:

      Mmm, thank you for your insight on the World Vegan Summit! Disappointing to hear, but unfortunately unsurprising. :/ Thank you also for the amazingly kind words about the blog!!!

  12. Martha says:

    I attended the World Vegan Summit and I was not as disappointed. I appreciate the emphasis on individual responsibility to learn and educate others, rather than support the big animal charities, which don’t accomplish the goals you outline and work within the capitalistic system so well. I also appreciate the goal of NOT creating another organization. They always seem to take on a life of their own and forget their goals in their pursuit of survival.

  13. chedog says:

    I realize that my comment may have come across as harsher and more negative than I intended in that I focussed on the flaws.The virtues Martha cites were indeed evident. I agree with you that an emphasis on education toward personal responsibility is important, and I agree that questioning the animal welfare perspective is the right thing to do. However, where we disagree, i suspect, is that I firmly believe we will never achieve our goals without creating organizations, plural, meaning more than one. The flaws of organizations that don’t stay true to their mission are certainly very evident. However, firstly, we cannot change the world without coming together in an organization (the way that organization will look and act are subjects for intense scrutiny), and, secondly, without an analysis that sees the replacement of capitalism with socialism (not eating/wearing/using animals is a necessary but not sufficient step) we’ll never take the actions that can lead us out of barbarism. I realize that my anarchist comrades won’t agree!

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