On Feminisms & Animal Liberation – An Interview with Federica Timeto


Interview by Maria Martelli 

Are feminisms and animal liberation related? Very much, and in many ways, as Federica Timeto’s new book will show you. “Animali si diventa. Femminismi e liberazione animale,” published in Italian, navigates critical theories smoothly to present a short yet comprehensive account of the interlockings between the social movements for women and those for animals. 

Composed of six chapters, the book manages to hold the complexities and differences of various feminist claims, exploring their many facets. The first chapter is focused on the origins of the animal question within Western feminism, unraveling the rights discourse and its perils and detailing the case against vivisection (of which the most famous is the Brown Dog Affair), championed by feminists of the time along with vegetarianism. The second chapter reads antispeciesism from a Black feminist perspective, describing how racialization and animalization are interlinked in the colonialist-humanist quest to dominate – with indicative cases such as those of Henrietta Lacks and Saartjie Baartman. The third chapter shows the ways discourses changed and fluctuated, from the earliest critiques eco-veg-feminists (such as Carol Adams, Greta Gaard) raised to Peter Singer’s and Tom Reagan’s rationalist arguments, and later to Gary Francione’s extinctionists position, going towards feminist materialisms (Donna Haraway), transfeminisms, critical and feminist animal studies. In the fourth, the importance of feminist standpoints is underlined, as well as care ethics and practices (such as Lori Gruen’s entangled empathy), and the dismantling of dualisms (as Val Plumwood argues for). The fifth presents veganism as a feminist politics, recuperating the image of the vegan killjoy and the monstrous vegan against the usual arguments that wish to restrain it simply to a “diet” or a “choice”. Finally, the sixth chapter makes a claim to go beyond a “straight” antispeciesism, one that easily categorizes, towards a queering that refuses the easy knowability and instrumentalization of nature. 

Re-vitalizing a panoply of important figures in feminist and animal studies, Timeto wrote a book that puts these many strands together while arguing always for both/all: feminist and animal liberation, never one without the other. 

Dear Federica, your book begins with the harrowing moment of having wildfires circle your home. Your writing is a way of trying “to breathe” despite the smoky, polluted air of anthropocentric capitalism. The whole endeavor stems from, and argues for, nurturing vulnerability and situated standpoints. What are the sociological roots for these ideas and how can a reader do that? 

The first thing I do in the book is to position myself (unfortunately, in a tragic contingency, that of the fires that ravaged southern Italy, where I live half the year, in the Summer of 2023). Because I could not speak except through my body, because I believe that my body is the point of contact with the world, the place where more than human life passes through me and where I become with other lives: a shared vulnerability that, for instance, Judith Butler has theorized so well. I do not believe in the efficacy of a universal theory, in recipes that are valid for everyone (which is what I am often asked, however, when I happen to hold public meetings on my work), and despite the differences and nuances that exist, I believe that the main contribution of feminisms to anti-speciesism consists precisely in their focus on relationships and differences, which are constantly made. If we wanted to find a strictly sociological matrix to this framework, I could say that it resides in symbolic interactionism, which, however, as we know, remains human-centred, and has been widely criticised for this (it is no coincidence that much contemporary vegan and/or anti-speciesist sociology has its roots in this approach, revisited in a multi-species direction, including Haraway). The deconstruction of the universal subject also owes much to critical race theory and post- and decolonial studies, as I discuss in the second chapter of the book, and ultimately to cultural studies, which I favour, and which always dwell on the contextual and contingent articulations and negotiations of material-symbolic relations (cultural studies does not traditionally contemplate interspecies relations either, though). 


The book contains plenty of iconic figures in feminist and animal studies/activism, from Louis Michel to Brigid Brophy to Val Plumwood to Donna Haraway. I know you have deeply studied Haraway’s work, as you have previously published “Bestiario Haraway”, in which you explore her thinking with other animals. What other person’s concepts, or texts, would you say was essential to your journey into developing your antispeciesist-feminist thought?

Personally, cultural studies of technoscience, and thus feminist STSs more generally, were for me the road to anti-speciesism, and even to ecofeminism, to which I arrived at later. Indispensable points of reference remain all the reflections of standpoint epistemology that come from there (Harding, Hill Collins, Haraway), which CAS also discusses in a multi-species key, and which works well, I believe, to hybridise technofeminism and anti-speciesist ecofeminism, also by hooking into reflection on situated practices of care and response-ability. I also owe much to the work of Erika Cudworth, and the way she bends posthumanism and confronts its complexity and limitations by problematising them without rejecting them. I am very fond of going through the complexities, as bell hooks teaches, and staying with the trouble, as Haraway would say (to the point that I also put her in the trouble of what I consider the contradictions of her anti-speciesism). Moreover, since I study the dimension of the imaginary, but I always consider it strictly articulated in material practices and apparatuses, I feel very much akin to my approach reflections that do not neglect the level of the symbolic and are never reductionist while being very lucid with respect to the critique of capitalism, such as, for example, the post-Marxist one by Nicole Shukin, whose book was recently published in Italian under my co-curatorship.


As you also point out above, in your writing you carefully hold together contradicting treads, managing to work with non-vegan theorists towards antispeciesist goals. How did you arrive at this way of thinking? I know your position is both scholarly and activist, and I  have noticed that, in activist circles, it is more at hand to leave behind a thinker that doesn’t “go all the way” to liberation. But as you show, despite not being vegan, Donna Haraway often manages to agitate the species category in such a way as to attack certain forms of anthropocentrism. And of course, she is not the only figure to exist in tense spaces: Paul Preciado’s “hormonal determinism” of relating testosterone to eating meat is a recent example, while Mary Wollestonecraft’s humanist arguments for women’s rights would be an older one. 

Yes, I very much agree with what you say and it is a phenomenon I often come up against. To ignore a thinker’s theoretical production just because it does not meet all the parameters of the perfect anti-speciesist, or to refuse a priori to consider a text for the same reason, is very common, especially in activism (and is often linked to an extremely counterproductive juxtaposition between theory and practice). Take Derrida, or even Haraway: hard to find a theoretical elaboration of the critique of the concept of species more lucid than theirs. Yet we cannot give them the license of ‘perfect anti-speciesists’, and for various reasons (I have discussed Haraway in this sense both in the book and in many other texts). Should we dispense with reading them, or discussing them? I do not think so. Critical practice is also a form of struggle, certainly not the only one, and certainly not sufficient, but opening up a thought, hybridising it with other thoughts, taking what is needed, criticising what is problematic, are exercises of attention to differences that are fundamental for me, and what I notice is that when this does not happen, it is because identitarianism is always lurking behind it, even in feminism and anti-speciesism, which is what I most shy away from.


The book deals mainly with anglophone, Western feminisms, movements and writers, but Italy has a burgeoning feminist-antispeciesist scene as well. What teachings come from writers/activists in your region? And how do you see possible, internationalist collaborations across movements and theories? 

Well, I also discuss many non Western thinkers, even though I declare my situatedness as a white Western theorist and thus I mainly elaborate on Western critiques. The Italian scene is very lively and vibrant, and certainly anti-speciesism in Italy is nourished above all by activism, I am thinking in particular of the multiple realities of sanctuaries, which are numerous throughout the territory (we can say fortunately, but also unfortunately, as they are testimony to the capillary exploitation of the animals that find shelter in these places after escaping or because they are saved from the production cycle), and of the numerous existing collectives. But there is also a consolidated theoretical tradition rooted in Spinozian, Deleuzian and neo-materialist feminist thought, that, for example, is found finds in the quarterly four-monthly magazine Liberazioni, now in its 56th issue, a point of convergence and also of dissemination. (we publish original contributions and also translate several important texts, both academic and not, which otherwise would not get to the Italian militant audience). 

As I recount in the book dealing with this in more general lines, even in Italy anti-speciesism is criss-crossed by splits, I would say that the main one is that which contrasts anti-speciesism of an anarchist matrix and anti-speciesism of a Marxist matrix. For this reason, too, although not exclusively, Italian anti-speciesist feminism cannot be identified as a homogeneous phenomenon, and despite a commonality of anti-speciesist aims, differences in anti-speciesist positioning prevail: first and foremost, between radical feminists and transfeminists, which I explore in the book, explicitly positioning myself in the latter, with the further complication, for example, of more eco-oriented and technophobic approaches, and less technophobic though often equally ecological approaches.

Regarding the possibility of networking at the international level, I very much believe that the crossing of different fields, and especially the contamination between academia and activism, research and action, which is also at the core of the CAS’ principles, is crucial to the creation of fruitful and lasting collaborations, as indeed happened when the work of just wondering… entered the university through the Imagining Multispecies Justice workshop (Venice, 2022).

Fat Veganism in Spain and Latin America: Insights from Fat Activists towards Body Liberation Beyond Species


By Laura Fernández
Universitat de Barcelona
laurafernandez@ub.edu / lauferagui@gmail.com


Following the tradition of situated knowledge from feminist epistemologies (Harding, 1988; Haraway, 1991) and considering Aph and Syl Ko’s argument that veganism and animal advocacy will necessarily be shaped by those who talk, think, and act towards this horizon (Ko and Ko, 2017), this research invites us to collectively think about veganism and animal liberation from an embodied, political perspective of those who ally with oppressed nonhuman animals and at the same time experience structural oppression due to their weight and body size (Rothblum and Solovay, 2009; álvarez castillo, 2014; Wrenn, 2016). This means exploring something like a fat vegan activist standpoint.

This exploration is done from a collection and discourse analysis of eight works (including text and pictures: book excerpts, blog posts, fatzines, and conferences) produced by fat activists in Spain and Latin America where nonhuman animals, anti-speciesism, and veganism were explicitly mentioned. These materials address speciesism and veganism issues together with fat liberation, as an intertwined struggle (the author herself having participated in some of them). The main goal of this research is to explore how grassroots fat activisms have integrated animal liberation into their own emancipatory struggle.

The research first presents a literature review and contextualisation of fat activism in Latin America and Spain, considering key concepts and ideas such as:

  • Fatphobia (álvarez castillo, 2014; Piñeyro, 2016)
  • Healthism (Crawford, 1980)
  • The health-industrial complex (Oliver, 2016)
  • Diet culture (Harrison, 2018)
  • Anthroparchy (Cudworth, 2005)
  • Animalisation and zoomorphism (Wrenn, 2016)
  • Situated Spanish and Latin American fat activisms including the idea of a “genealogy other”, with a decolonial and South-to-North activist Flow (Masson, 2017)
  • Fatosphere (e.g. Casadó-Marín and Gracia-Arnaiz, 2020).

The results of the discourse analysis of the fat activists’ materials shed light on how these activists are questioning the binary thinking that structures the world (human/animal, male/female, culture/nature, West/East, thin/fat, etc.). They also emphasise interconnection and interdependence in their writings and drawings, considering the traditional ecofeminist notion that we need each other to survive and flourish and that individualism is a mirage. Fat activists also reclaim animal insults such as “cow” or “whale” associated with their own bodies, typically presenting animalisation as a strategy of inferiorisation of fat bodies (thus assuming that having a nonhuman animal body is something negative, which of course is not). Fat grassroots activists also refer to its veganism from a fat vegan embodied perspective, discussing important notions such as the equation between veganism and thinness, and thinness with health. Their discourse shows that they advocate for a critical and solidary fat liberation that questions the notion of nonhuman animals as food and argues that true body liberation can only happen if we take into account all bodies, including nonhuman bodies.

Considering these important materials from grassroots movements, the research discusses how the interconnection between speciesism and fatphobia can challenge hegemonic understandings of both forms of oppression. Furthermore, grassroots activists in Spain and Latin America have a radical core and intersectional sensitivities against all forms of oppression in addition to speciesism and are also concerned with aspects such as decoloniality, queer feminism, the fight against ableism, or anti-capitalism. From this analysis arises the notion of critical emancipation, which has to do with a form of bodily empowerment that includes nonhuman animals and rejects their commodification as food.

In summary, fat activists bring two political and ethical proposals of great value: on the one hand the advocacy for a more inclusive veganism away from diet culture and healthism, where all sizes and bodies fit. On the other hand, the commitment to interspecies-caring fat activism, where nonhuman animals are considered individuals oppressed by bodily control and exploitation who deserve our solidarity and action.

This is a summary of the talk presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of Vegan Sociologists, 2023.


If you are interested in this topic and would like to read more about it, you can check the full version of this research in the chapter of the book Feminist Animal Studies (edited by Erika Cudworth, Ruth E. McKie, and Di Turgoose, Routledge, 2023).



alvarez castillo, constanzx. 2014. La cerda punk. Ensayos desde un feminismo gordo, lésbico, antikapitalista y antiespecista. Valparaíso: Trío Editorial.

Casadó-Marín, Lina and Gracia-Arnaiz, Mabel. 2020. ‘“I’m fat and proud of it”: Body size diversity and fat acceptance activism in Spain’. Fat Studies, 9, pp. 51–70. https://doi.org/10.1080/21604851.2019.1648994.

Crawford, Robert. 1980. ‘Healthism and the Medicalization of Everyday Life’. International Journal of Health Services, 10(3), pp. 365-388. https://doi.org/10.2190/3H2H-3XJN-3KAY-G9NY.

Cudworth, Erika. 2005. Developing ecofeminist theory: the complexity of difference. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Haraway, Donna. 1991. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective” In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 183-202. New York: Routledge.

Harding, Sandra. 1988. “Is there a feminist method?” In Feminism and methodology, 1-14. Indiana University Press.

Harrison, Christy. 2018. What is diet culture? [Online]. Available at: https://christyharrison.com/blog/what-is-diet-culture.

Ko, Aph and Ko, Syl. 2017. Aphro-ism. Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism and Black Veganism from two sisters. New York: Lantern.

Masson, Lucrecia. 2016. “Un rugido de rumiantes: apuntes sobre la disidencia corporal desde el activismo gordo” In Contrera, L. and Cuello N. (Eds.) Cuerpos sin patrones. Resistencias desde las geografías desmesuradas de la carne. Buenos Aires: Madreselva, pp. 99-108.

Oliver, J. Eric. 2006. Fat politics: the real story behind America’s obesity epidemic. New York: Oxford University Press.

Piñeyro, Magdalena. 2016. Stop gordofobia y las panzas subversas. Málaga: Baladre y Zambra.

Rothblum, Esther and Solovay, Sondra. 2009. The Fat Studies Reader. New York and London: New York University Press.

Wrenn, Corey Lee. 2016. “Fat vegan politics: A survey of fat vegan activists’ online experiences with social movement sizeism” Fat Studies, 6, no.1: 90–102.

Vegans: PC-Ravaged Clowns or Plant-Powered Pioneers?

Source: Daily Mirror

By Affiliate Member, Norm Riley

The former, according to the UK TV presenter, journalist, ‘real meat’ loving millionaire man of the people and leader of the vegan resistance, Piers Morgan.

Morgan, permanently engaged in a personal battle with cancel culture, was so infuriated by a vegan sausage roll in 2019 that he labelled vegans ‘PC-ravaged clowns.’ Quorn filling wrapped in puff pastry was for this free speech champion a lethal weapon in arsenal of the army of ‘ultra-sensitive, permanently offended woke snowflakes.’

Rather than malice towards Piers for this spectacular take, I will be forever grateful to him because it inspired me to revisit Karen Morgan’s and Matthew Cole’s seminal 2011 article, Vegaphobia: derogatory discourses of veganism and the reproduction of speciesism in UK national newspapers. Their analysis of UK newspapers from 2007 argued vegans were overwhelmingly portrayed negatively. Writers presented them as hostile, weirdos, killjoys, and figures of ridicule. Subsequent studies in Australia and the USA aligned with such findings.

I wondered whether such portrayals were still the norm bearing in mind the over 300 per cent increase in people identifying as vegan in the UK between 2007 and 2020. Surely an (assumed) increase in public awareness of the detrimental environmental impacts of animal agriculture and the health benefits of a balanced plant-based diet, as well as the visibility of ‘celebrity’ vegans, would mean veganism was no longer denigrated in such ways?

I undertook a content analysis of UK newspapers from 2020, the results of which were recently published in the Journal for Critical Animal Studies. I categorised 11.2 per cent of articles as positive which, while double that of Cole and Morgan, suggested that positive portrayals remained rare. I found 27 per cent of articles portrayed veganism negatively and 61.7 per cent as neutral. This compares favourably with Cole’s and Morgan’s results of 74.3 per cent negative and 20.2 per cent as neutral. Such differences suggest, perhaps, that while pro-vegan sentiment in UK newspapers has barely grown since 2007, anti-vegan sentiment appears to have considerably decreased. 


Violent Vegans?

However, the negative portrayals I found were deeply disconcerting. A particularly depressing and perhaps distressing finding is the presentation of vegans in a handful of articles as sufficiently hostile to the extent they are willing to inflict physical and psychological harm on non-vegans. I found articles positioning vegans as militant[i], blaming them for inflicting mental health harms on farmers, and describing activism as akin to terrorism[ii] and extremism. Such portrayals, while rare, can impresses upon the reader an image of a dangerous other willing to enact violence and destroy livelihoods to achieve their aims.


Animal Absence

Furthermore, articles discussing veganism which also included reference to Nonhuman Animals were rare. Nonhuman Animals were referred to in only thirty-seven (3.5 per cent) of articles. Such a finding invokes Carol Adams’s concept of the ‘absent referent’ – the choice of making absent the life of the sentient being who is killed for human benefit. A handful of these articles provided explicit descriptions reflecting the reality of the practices of animal agriculture.

Speciesism, however, was still evident even in those articles mentioning the violence inflicted on commodified Nonhuman Animals. Our violent treatment of them can be justified because, for example, they taste ‘good’. Such a position resonates with Piazza et al’s addition of the fourth ‘n’ of nice to Joy’s 3 ‘ns’ (normal, natural, and necessary) of Carnism, the ideology underpinning and rationalising our subjugation and commodification of Nonhuman Animals.

Moreover, in a rare article informing readers about the motivations for ethical veganism, the speciesist lens through which the writer views the human animal/Nonhuman Animal relationship is obvious. The writer suggests that while it may be admirable to want to stop cows being ‘artificially inseminated’ and ‘traumatized’ and bulls to no longer have semen ‘mechanically drawn’ from them, vegans’ refusal to consume dairy is hitting humans hard by impacting them financially.

Such language dilutes the actual violence inflicted on Nonhuman Animals and frames the financial implications of decreased profits as violence towards those humans employed in and profiting from their oppression. By highlighting the ‘negative’ impacts of veganism on humans and couching the horrors inflicted on Nonhuman Animals in the language of science, the public is kept ‘comfortably detached from the unpleasant reality of modern farming’.


Neutrality as Dangerous?

I also argue that neutral articles, those offering non-evaluative content such as ‘vegan’ recipes or consumer products, while not generating anti-vegan sentiment, are perhaps not as harmless as their banal content suggests. Baltzer’s argument on the dangers of neutrality helps us understand that such articles, while not portraying veganism negatively, may contribute to maintaining carnism and, therefore, the killing of Nonhuman Animals. By asking whom our neutrality benefits, it is revealed to us that the notion of such a position is a myth. Put simply, remaining supposedly neutral in an unjust system perpetuates injustice and reinforces existing power (im)balances.


In conclusion, newspapers (print and online) have the power and authority to construct meanings, are influential in informing readers’ opinions, and are critical platforms for educating the public. Mainstream news media is inclined to promote the practices of the hegemonic culture while simultaneously perpetuating the marginalisation of minority group practices through denigration or ignorance. The persistence of negative portrayals of vegans, the intentional absenting of the Nonhuman Animal from discussions on veganism, and the misinformation around the impacts of vegan activism remind us that we must continue to challenge those journalists and writers whose words contribute to the perpetuation of the immiseration, oppression and slaughter of billions of sentient beings.

[i] Thomson, A. (2020) Britain needs farmers more than ever. The Times. 04 March 2020.

[ii] James, E. (2020) Butchers: Vegans are just terrorists. The Sun. 22 February 2020

Pig-Ignorance: The Peppa Pig Paradox

Peppa Pig ham salad

Affiliate Member, Lynda Korimboccus, recently investigated attitudinal and behavioural contradictions that result in Peppa Pig fans oblivious to the direct connections between their favourite TV character and a ham salad sandwich.

The ‘Peppa Pig Paradox’ developed from Loughnan et al’s 2010 ‘meat paradox’ – that is, the idea that people say they love animals but also love eating animals. In many cases, people have simply been taught to categorise animals differently: as ‘food’ or as ‘pets’, for example. She aimed to apply this where the same species is considered in two contradictory ways: The Peppa Pig Paradox. She considers whether Peppa Pig simply reflects human society in pig form through anthropomorphism (Mills 2017); whether negative pig metaphors skew our views (Goatly 2006) and our use of the language we learn allows us to distance ourselves (Plous 1993); or whether it simply the application of denialism, or ‘strategic ignorance’ (Onwezen & van der Weele 2016) that has so far failed to make the connection impossible to ignore.

Lynda’s vegan daughter, Maya

The social influences upon us are strong and powerful – from family, peers and education through media, government and business – and we’d be forgiven for not seeing the obvious up until now. However, animal eating is a normalised practice at risk from an increase in plant-based eating and Lynda encourages vegan parents to become familiar with both moral and nutritional arguments for this in preparation for the inevitable challenges. She urges non-vegan parents to face their fear of change and embrace the plant-based revolution – not just for their children’s health, but their future environment as well as the lives of millions of non-human animals worldwide. Hopefully, all Peppa Pig fans will one day be vegan, but meantime, it’s vital to raise awareness of inconsistency and help others make connections to overcome their strategic, or ‘pig’ ignorance.

Full article (including references):
Korimboccus, L.M. (2020). ‘Pig-Ignorant: The Peppa Pig Paradox: Investigating Contradictory Childhood Consumption.’ Journal for Critical Animal Studies 17(5): 3-33.


Lynda M. Korimboccus is an affiliate member of the IAVS and serves as Student Editor-in-Chief for the Student Journal of Vegan Sociology.