Guiding principles for the International Association of Vegan Sociologists
A common criticism is that the time is not yet ripe for our reform. Can time ever be ripe for any reform unless it is ripened by the human determination?
– Donald Watson
The International Association of Vegan Sociologists believes in the pursuit of scholarship for the total liberation of all beings.
To this end, we work to nurture a Vegan Sociology that:
- Uses the sociological toolkit, with its attention to broader power structures and the minutia of everyday life, to highlight and challenge the material conditions and anthroparchal structures underpinning human entanglements with other animals.
- Challenges the epistemological frameworks that further the oppression of other animals, and pursues new ways of generating sociological knowledge that better encapsulates the shared social world.
- Meaningfully engages with the material experiences of other animals, and seeks to centre these in research and teaching.
- Seeks to further understanding of veganism and the factors that enable more effective pursuit and perpetuation of vegan lifestyles and messaging.
- Examines animal rights movements to inform the pursuit of total liberation.
- Reflexively engages with our own species privilege as members of a researching species, and seeks to decentre human privilege insofar as this is possible in our research endeavours.
- Holds as its central tenet that research for other animals and for the pursuit of liberated futures requires a commitment to veganism as an ethical baseline for all in the association.
Recommended Best Practices
In speaking engagements, published works, and other formal communications, language should be critically deployed to respect the personhood of other animals and challenge their oppression. Nonhuman animals may be described in ways that disrupt speciesist lexicon (using terms such as “nonhuman animals” or “other animals,” rejecting the human/animal binary, and referring to other animals as “they” rather than “it”).
Events should avoid the use of animal products in catering, décor, and furnishing. Any refreshments served should be, at a minimum, vegan. Ideally, “cruelty-free” should extend to humans in food production. Fair-trade, environmentally-sustainable products and ingredients should be provided within reason. Organizers should recognize companion-animal care-giving duties and offer accommodations where possible (i.e. offer flexible presentation formats, daycare services, “pet-friendly” facilities, etc.).
As consistent with the founding values of veganism as laid out by the founders of The Vegan Society and practiced in modern sociological ethics, vegan sociological undertakings should acknowledge and respect intersecting oppressions between humans and other animals. Epistemological and practical solidarity should be offered to human liberation efforts.
Researching involving other animals should recognize the special challenges in soliciting nonhuman consent. As with other potentially vulnerable research subjects, researchers should take care to gain consent from participants as is consistent with their cognitive abilities and regularly check that consent is still given. Research should not cause undue harm to other animals. Researchers should also be aware of the power imbalances between human researchers and nonhuman research subjects, particularly with those species that are domesticated and dependent upon humans or individuals who are under duress. Researchers should practice reflexivity in acknowledging human privilege in research production. Vegan sociological research is expected to apply findings toward the advancement of nonhuman animal interests.
As sociologists, our work in the classroom prioritizes the building of a welcoming and inclusive community in which students can actively expand and diversify their view of the social world. Vegan sociology encourages students to think critically about animals and the environment, but also systems of inequality and political mechanisms more broadly.