7. Should Domesticated Animals Go Extinct? A Radical Vegan Perspective

Rundown

This episode was inspired by a great series of questions from one of our listeners, Julian. Julian asked:

Would you want the domesticated races to simply die out (like, after we have achieved full communism and everybody has gone vegan)? Even horses? How do you feel about humans engaging in a kind of idealized farming? Would you agree with me that in traditional farming animals suffer less than they do in the wild? Would you want family farmers in third world countries or pastoral nomads to give up their lifestyle so as to not exploit animals anymore?

To answer these questions, we start by discussing the history of domestication and how humans formed various ‘symbiotic’ relationships with different species of animals. We then explore what alternative (anti-capitalist and/or anti-statist) relationships to animals might look like, focusing in particular on “hill people”, or forest-dwelling communities in the highland forests of Southeast Asia. In this section we highlight how capitalism mediates our relationship with meat and ‘prey’ animals in the Global North. Next, we discuss how domesticated animals may be necessary for the inputs required for widespread vegetarian or vegan practice. We follow this with a discussion of the domestication of pet animals, and how our understanding of them as dependent and incapable of a ‘real’ life without us can reproduce ablest attitudes, as well as how capitalism imbues our relationships with our pets. We finish by trying to sketch out what an alternative, decommodified, and more ‘symbiotic’ relationship with animals might look like as we learn to envision ourselves as animals, very much a part of the ecosystems we participate in.

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Transcript

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MARINEWelcome to the Vegan Vanguard.

MEXIEA show about all things from the perspective of two revolutionary vegan women.

MARINEI’m Marine.

MEXIEAnd I’m Mexie. And today, we’re going to be talking about the domestication of animals, and how we feel about that, as vegans. And to what extent we can consider domesticated animals to be in a symbiotic relationship with human beings. 

MARINEMm-hmm.

MEXIEAnd this came from a series of questions from one of our listeners, because we asked you all to send in questions. So, thank you to everyone who sent in great questions.
00:00:57:00MEXIEWe got a number of them. Yeah. So, if we don’t answer your question today, we’ll keep those on file. There were a lot of great ones. We’re going to revisit this format in the future, so we’ll get to your questions eventually. But Julian asked so many great questions about the domestication of animals that we thought, we better do a full podcast on this. So, first of all, we have a number of patrons to shout out. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated within the last few weeks. So, first of all, Helena has edited their pledge yet again, to donate even more per month. So, thank you so much, Helena. That’s amazing.  We had Katie [Shockley]. Stephan. [LAUGHS] Someone whose screen name is Dave Reuben Is Far Right. [LAUGHTER] Camila, and Zen.
00:01:57:00MEXIESo, thank you so much, everyone.

MARINEThank you so much. 

MEXIESo many this week. So if you’d like to support the show, you can support us via Patreon at Vegan Vanguard. Or you could make a one-time donation via PayPal on our website, which is veganvanguardpodcast.com. 


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MARINESo, I’m first going to read out the question. You could argue that humans and domesticated animals have a mutually beneficial relationship, instead of an exploitative one, if you ignore factory farming. Or, let’s say, the last 100 years—and view it from an evolutionary perspective. If you have some cows and sheep grazing on land that, for some reason, is not used to grow crops (example: mountainous terrain, bad soil), and those animals are protected from predators and risks of malnutrition. They suffer way less than they would in the wild.  Even if their wool, milk, or flesh is eventually harvested by their human overlords.  
00:02:56:00MARINEAlso, our domesticated animals would not even exist as species / races without us interfering and breeding them. Of course, the very existence of many modern races is just atrocious, like the chickens whose legs can’t support their body-weight. But again, I’m talking more in an evolutionary time-scale. We would certainly be significantly less well-off without domesticated animals. And, in a sense, we can only now, in post-modern times, choose not to quote-unquote use animals, without this decision heavily impeding societal development or living standards. I’m sure Mexie, with her interest in geography, knows Guns, Germs, and Steel. So, the questions are, would you want the domesticated races to simply die out, like after we achieve full communism, and everybody has gone vegan, for example? Even horses? How do you feel about humans engaging in a kind of idealized farming? Would you agree with me that, in traditional farming, animals suffer less than they do in the wild?
00:03:59:00MARINEWould you want family-farmers in third-world countries, or pastoral nomads to give up their lifestyle so as to not exploit animals anymore? This is more than one question, but I think the overarching theme is obvious.

MEXIESo yeah, I think that’s such a great question.

MARINESuch a great question. The way that we’re going to break it down, is that first, Mexie’s going to give us a brief overview of the origins of domestication and how it first started [LAUGHS] a very, very long time ago. [This is quite] general. But you’ll get into the specific. Then, I’m going to talk a little bit about hill people, and hill tribes, and the link between civilization and agriculture. Then, we’re going to talk about the mutually dependent and beneficial relationships between humans and other animals. And then, we’re going to talk about the domestication of pets.
00:04:58:00MARINEAnd if we think that those species should be forced to go extinct because they’re quote-unquote unnatural. And all the ethical questions that surround that.

MEXIEYes, all right, so I suppose diving in the history. Just, I thought this was such a great question. Especially thinking about the symbiotic relationship between humans and other animals. Because it’s true that domestication started as a pretty symbiotic relationship.  So, the first animals to be domesticated were wolves, actually. And those developed into the proto-dogs that we have now, and just dogs. But it’s interesting that there’s a difference between domestication and taming. Which I didn’t actually, I wasn’t quite aware of this, actually.  Taming is when you condition the behavior of wild animals to not be, to not have that fight-or-flight response, or to be more comfortable around humans. Whereas domestication is actually breeding certain individuals with other individuals, to create a group of animals that either, that don’t have that fight-or-flight mode, and that are more accepting of being around humans. But that also have traits that humans would find…either better to exploit [LAUGHS], I suppose, or just better to have around. So, there’s a difference between, for example, elephants in a lot of southeast-Asian countries, they’re tame, in the sense that they accept human presence. Humans do use them for a number of things, but humans don’t necessarily control their breeding, so they wouldn’t be considered domesticated. So, the first domesticated animals, as I said, were wolves, and this started long before agriculture.
00:07:02:00MEXIEThis started upwards of 30,000 years ago, in the last ice age. So, we’re talking about hunter/gatherers, we’re talking about early human societies. And they would obviously form communities, and hunt together, and would have fires and camps together. And so, wolves would benefit from, if these humans had come together and hunted something, then the wolves would benefit by being able to scavenge from that carcass. So, wolves were just, the ones that didn’t have that high of a fight-or-flight mode would be hanging around the human camps, they would be around the human campfires, they would be benefiting from what the humans are doing. And the humans, in turn, would be benefiting from these wolves or proto-dogs around, because they provide protection against other animals that would come to try to attack them.
00:07:58:00MEXIEAnd they could actually, in some instances, use the wolves or dogs to help them hunt other animals. And so, that really developed as a pretty symbiotic relationship. And that’s how we have dogs today, right. So, there are several different pathways that I’ll say led to domestication. So, the example of wolves and dogs would be an example of the commensal pathway, where you had certain animals that would form these relationships with humans, where both benefited. Humans received no harm, but benefit. And same with the animals. So, things like this include: dogs, cats, certain fowl. Possibly pigs. But they fall more into the prey pathway. The prey pathway would be animals like cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, etc.
00:09:02:00MEXIESo, as we moved forward in history, and we saw the commencement of agriculture, which commenced, by the way, in Mesopotamia, which was ancient Iraq. And in Egypt. So, in the [Nile] valley, in Mesopotamia. Then, we started to see animals domesticated through the directed pathway, and the prey pathway. So, the directed pathway would be animals such as: horses, donkeys, oxen. Animals that would help humans plow, or do other things that they needed to survive. But they weren’t actually prey animals. They weren’t considered food animals.  And then, the prey pathway, obviously as I said, would be sheep, goats, cattle. So, this really advanced when we got into agricultural societies, where you would have people just keeping cattle or sheep, etc.
00:10:00:00MEXIEBut then, actually harvesting from them either their wool, or killing them for prey. So, I feel like the question of domestication, and whether we can consider domesticated animals being in a symbiotic relationship, I feel like we have to take a look at exactly how they’ve been domesticated, and through what pathway. Because, in my opinion, obviously the commensal and the directed pathways have more of a symbiotic feel to them. And that has to do with the history of how they were developed. But also the fact that we’re not preying on them, we’re not killing them and eating their bodies. The prey pathway, in terms of envisioning that as a symbiotic kind of relationship, you can make the argument that, sure, if you release these cattle or these sheep into the wild, then they would probably be preyed upon by other animals.
00:11:04:00MEXIEBut I can’t get my head around the idea that killing them yourself is somehow more ethical or better than that. I think of two kind of counterexamples. Let’s say we’re going to make the same argument with dogs. So, I have two dogs, or my parents have two dogs that I love very much. And if we release them into the wild, then surely, they would be preyed upon by other animals, or they just wouldn’t really survive. So, does that mean that if I killed my own dog, that’s better? That’s somehow a better relationship that we have?  I’m really not sure. 

MARINE[TALKS OVER] I have a question. Could you argue that the people who domesticated this prey domestication that you’re talking about, did they rely on the killing and the breeding of these animals to survive?
00:12:02:00MARINEOr, were they as detached of that need as you would be, if you killed your dogs?

MEXIEThat’s a good point. So, I mean, yeah, in a lot of these early societies, I suppose they would have been dependent on killing them and eating them. But then, when we get into bigger-scale domestication and bigger-scale operations of food production today, then that’s kind of when we get into— A lot of farmers today, even if they’re not a mega factory farm, we’re not talking about subsistence anymore. We’re talking about something that’s enmeshed within capitalism, and then basically for-profit.

MARINEThat just, to me, doesn’t seem like it should fall under the same word or category of domestication.

MEXIEMm-hmm, that’s true. So, I guess the point here is that there is a number, like when we talk about domestication [LAUGHS] there’s a number of things that we could be talking about.
00:13:00:00MEXIEI mean, we could be talking about, as said in the question, pastoralist nomads in northern Siberia, or we could be talking about a mega-farm that’s operating, killing cattle for profit. So, yeah, I mean, I feel like there’s different relationships, but in terms of how I see symbiosis, I mean yeah, it’s difficult.  I’m sure there’s examples of all three that we could say would be more symbiotic than other examples. But I guess I would consider the commensal and directed pathways to be just more inherently symbiotic than the prey pathway.

MARINEI agree with that. Sorry, cut you off, because you said there were two parallels you want to make. So, you made one.

MEXIEOh, well the other—well, it doesn’t really make sense anymore, because your point was pretty valid.
00:13:57:00MEXIE‘Cause I was going to say the same thing as like, okay, well, if I take care of a number of children, like if I release these children into the wild, then they would die. So, does that mean that if I kill the child, then we have a better relationship, you know what I mean? But yeah, as you said, there’s different reasons why people might be killing their domesticated animals.

MARINEMm-hmm. Okay, so I’m going to talk a bit about the relationship between civilization and agriculture. Historically, we have come to think about agriculture and civilization to be inextricably linked, so that agriculture brings about civilization, then that civilization also needs agriculture to build itself. Because agriculture allows a food surplus. And so, it allows population growth.
00:14:55:00MARINEBut, even if we consider that agriculture brings about civilization, that we have to ask ourselves, what does civilization really mean. Civilization, in western history, has been very associated to culture, and progress, and advancement.  But, we could also link civilization to state control. We can consider that the creation of this state always involves some form of coercion. So, sometimes that coercion is through the army, or through taxes. Or, I would say, most often times. [LAUGHS] So, states require a sedentary population to produce food, which is why, in turn, they need an army, and they need taxes, to enforce exploitative labor relations of agricultural production, in order to produce this food surplus, and to have control over it. So, that also leads to property rights and, most often, patriarchy.
00:15:56:00MARINEAnd a whole bunch of nasty hierarchical relationships that oppress certain people, while privileging others. And so, I’m going to talk about a book by James Scott, who’s an anarchist anthropologist. So, he wrote a book called “The Art of Not Being Governed”, where he notably looks at hill tribes in Southeast Asia and southern China. This whole area that is called Zomia, that is relatively stateless. And throughout his book, he makes the argument that hill people are not people left behind by civilization, as we would traditionally see it. So, the history that we’ve been taught is that hill people usually come to civilization because they want to assimilate and benefit from all the great things that civilization will offer them.
00:16:59:00MARINESuch as culture, and progress, and surplus food. However, we’ve also seen that civilization can be equated with state control, and thus, be synonymous with exploitation and coercion. So, it really flips the narrative on its head, when you think about civilization in that way. And so, James Scott explains that hill people are not people who have been left behind by civilization, but rather, people who have made a conscious choice to avoid it. And a lot of times, they were refugees, basically, who ran away from slavery, or other coercive systems. And that, by living in the hills, they are much more difficult to access and control by the state. So, I was just thinking about how we have been, we’re like a product of a civilization.
00:17:57:00MARINECivilization is all that I know. And…

MEXIESame.

MARINECivilization, when you take into account how…rooted and dependent it is on agriculture, and on animal exploitation, you really realize that our entire, everything that we know [LAUGHS] is founded in the exploitation of animals, and in this relationship between us and the animal kingdom that is absolutely not symbiotic, and that is inherently exploitative. And so, that’s sort of the only way that I know how to relate to animals. Or, at least, that’s hegemonically have been so taught to think about them. And I wonder, hill people, [or] nomadic tribes who have a very different relationship with nature and with animals, and who actually…use, or benefit from, or engage with animals in a way that’s directly tied to their subsistence and to their emancipation from a exploitative, coercive system.
00:19:04:00MARINEI mean, they must have such a different way of conceiving of animals, and of conceiving of nature. And I feel like my relationship with animals, or all of our relationships with animals, and with nature, has been so colonized. And even more so, if you understand where civilization came from, that…yeah. Anyway, that was just a whole roundabout way to say that I don’t know. I’m sure there’s so many different ways and constellations…through which we could relate to animals, but that I really don’t have access to those.

MEXIEYeah, no, absolutely. Same here. [LAUGHS] I mean, yeah, for a lot of us, the only way we even can think about meat, is through going to a grocery store and buying this packaged-up, super-sanitized—we don’t see the animal in that, at all.
00:19:56:00MEXIEAnd purposely so. We don’t, we have no connection to whatever animal brought us that meat, at all. So…yeah, I mean, it’s almost hard, it’s definitely hard to try and get into the mind-space of someone who has been brought up a completely different way, and who has a completely different experience with animals and domestication.

MARINERight. And our relationship with speciesism, or with the use of animals, is so ties to our enslavement to the system of capitalism.

MEXIEYes.

MARINEAnd hypothetically, their relationship, the relationship to animals that nomadic tribes have, is linked to their emancipation, and their sustainable way of life. So, it just must be…so different.

MEXIEGirl, that is such a good point. That just blew my mind. Yeah, absolutely. Our relationship with meat is mediated through alienation and fetishization.
00:20:56:00MEXIEWe have no connection to it, at all. And yeah, it’s absolutely a commodity to us. And that’s our only relationship to both animals, and meat. Whereas, in some cultures, especially cultures that are practicing subsistence livelihoods, in an effort to avoid exploitation, and stateship, and capitalism, then that relationship could look much different. That’s not to say—I mean…it’s difficult, right, because as vegans, it’s hard to say that we would ever really condone [LAUGHS] keeping and killing animals. But this is just to say that, we’re not about to sit here, from our white, suburban perspective, and try to say that we can understand every perspective that there is to have on domestication, and every relationship that there is to have, between humans and animals.
00:21:55:00MARINEExactly. And formulating an argument about other ways to relate to animals would be so, is so myopic. Obviously, their way to relate to animals is also imbued in the way that they relate to everything else that we also don’t have access to. We’re so fucking colonized by, yeah, white supremacy and patriarchy, and by colonization, and by speciesism, honestly, and by civilization and state coercion [INDISTINCT] the list is endless.

MARINEThat…it’s just not really our place. But I also don’t see it as productive for us to have any kind of opinion about it, because that opinion is, will be wrong, will be uninformed.

MEXIENo, absolutely. And I mean, that’s not to say, that’s not to excuse, that’s not to let people off the hook, who are living in white suburbia, and hearing us talk about this–

MARINEOh, I thought you were about to say, that’s not to let people off the hook who are living in hills, and I was like, I’m so confused. 
00:22:56:00MARINEWhere are we going with this? [LAUGHTER]

MEXIENo, no, that’s not to let our listeners off the hook–

MARINEY’all are fucking colonized by white supremacy and capitalism. [TALKS OVER] And technology, if you’re listening to this podcast. [LAUGHS]

MEXIEYeah, so that’s not to say that, if you’re currently buying your meat from a grocery store, then you should continue doing that. Not at all. Because your relationship with food is not, your relationship with that meat is not a form of resistance to capitalism or the state, at all.

MARINEAs a matter of fact, it’s…exactly the opposite.

MEXIEIt is exactly the opposite. And so, that’s why we’re advocating for veganism as anti-capitalist practice, and anti-capitalist practice as vegan practice. But we’re just talking about other relationships that we could be having.

MARINEMm-hmm, totally.

MEXIEThat reminds me of a bit of my experience in Thailand. So, for my master’s—well, in my PhD, but for my master’s, specifically I did research up in the hills of northern Thailand.
00:24:05:00MEXIEWhich, I mean, by the way, when James Scott was writing his book, it’s a bit older now, but his conception of Zomia was all of these highland areas in, across Southeast Asia that were relatively stateless. I feel like today, it’s not quite the case. There are still some areas that are relatively stateless, but I feel like a lot of places have been colonized, if you will. But yeah, in northern Thailand, I was living in a [Karen] hill-tribe village in a national park in the North. And the Karen tribe there were animist Buddhist. They were traditionally subsistence farmers, but they practice swidden cultivation. So, that’s when you–

MARINEOh yeah, I saw that.

MEXIEYeah, you cut an area of forest down, and then you burn it, and then you grow crops on that area.
00:24:59:00MEXIEAnd then, you leave that fallow, you leave that to grow back for several years, and then you rotate your areas where you cut down the trees and grow your crops. And it’s actually been, I mean, a lot of research has gone into how actually sustainable that is, and how it actually helps the forest. Because, when you burn it, I mean, forests actually need to be burned, and then regrow. Because if you leave a forest for too long, and there’s no fire, then the underbrush doesn’t develop, and then different species are affected or whatever. So, when they were kind of brought into the fold of the Thai state, especially since they were living in a national park, they were vilified for doing this swidden cultivation. So, they were forced to become sedentary paddy rice farmers. So, that’s what they’re doing now.  But they were largely just abandoned [LAUGHS] by the state. I mean, they were locked in this national park.
00:25:55:00MEXIEIn a lot of national parks, they actually evicted a lot of the forest-dwelling communities who lived there, because they thought, oh, we’re going to conserve nature here, which is ridiculous. But I can’t get into that now. But however, they were largely relying on subsistence. And so, in order to plow their fields, they used buffalo, water buffalo. In their culture, it’s typical that they build their houses up on stilts. And then, every household typically has at least one pig, and chickens. And yeah, they use water buffalo often, either as, they’ll keep herds and then sell them, or they’ll use them to help with their agriculture, etc. And they just have a completely different understanding of their place in nature. They don’t consider themselves to be separate and distinct from nature. And so, they consider themselves to be part of that overall ecosystem. 
00:27:01:00MEXIEAnd so, to them, the idea of not practicing swidden cultivation is ridiculous, because they’re part of that ecosystem, and they played a large role in producing it, and producing the kind of forests, and wilderness, and everything that was so wonderful, that the state wanted to protect it as a national park. But now, they’re being forced to adhere to these different rules. But yeah, just their complete different understanding of themselves, and their relations to animals, and everything else. Yeah, I mean, it would be very difficult for me to say, oh yeah, no, everyone should give up their pig, and chickens, and you should just plow your fields by yourself. Don’t use water buffalo, you know what I mean. It would just be very difficult for me to come in there and try and say anything.  Especially because, they really do have so little other options, in terms of meeting their livelihoods.
00:27:55:00MEXIEBut also, because they’ve been, they understand their environment a lot more [LAUGHS] than we would, right. So, coming from the outside and trying to say that this is not right, is, I think, ridiculous for anyone to try to do. Having said that, I think it is really interesting that even in that context, there are people who are conscious vegetarians. I mean, there’s the monk that lives in that village is a vegetarian. Because a lot of Buddhist monks do take that route. So yeah, it is interesting that even people growing up in that kind of situation, could still imagine themselves, or could still want to eat a vegetarian diet. But yeah, this is just to say that, I feel like the people who try and impose their own values on all these other people, aren’t very well-traveled. Or just have a hard time empathizing, or seeing outside of their own colonized mind.
00:28:55:00MARINEAbsolutely. Yeah, thank you for sharing that story. That was so interesting. It must have been a pretty incredible experience [TALKS OVER] to stay in that national park. Yeah, I would love to do that. Yeah, one of my viewers reached out to me. This was months ago, maybe a year ago. But she was an anthropologist who studied food sustainability and agricultural practices. And she shared so much amazing information with me. So, I went back into that conversation, and read the crap out of it. [LAUGHTER] And picked out some of the points that were most interesting to me. So, she explained that, for over 12,000-plus years of agriculture, the basis for most of our diets worldwide, as well as medicines, biofuels, and fibers, was born of sedentization, soil manipulation, animal domestication, and eventually, imported resources. And some of the arguments in James Scott’s book, she found a little bit problematic.
00:29:58:00MARINEBecause she wondered if it’s just asserting that indigenous food choices are simply a reaction to conquering forces, and said that that was also reproducing a sort of colonial vision of the state of affairs. Which I thought was a good point. But, she said the food web’s fundamental principle is that nothing is created or destroyed, only transformed. Which makes a lot of sense, right. You need to provide. You can’t just take and take from nature. You need to also provide inputs. Because everything is circular, and nothing is going to be produced without being–

MEXIEEnergy is never created or destroyed—it just circulates or whatever.

MARINEExactly. There are no free resources, right. That death and decay provide and sustain life. And that, in order to grow food, you need to replenish nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into the ground.
00:30:56:00MARINEWhich doesn’t naturally occur in the very large quantities that would be needed to sustain a western plant-based diet. As we vegans have, for example. And she was explaining that indigenous people have traditionally hunted fish, gathered, and practiced some form of horticulture and aquaculture, for all of history. And…there was, she brought up an example which I thought was really interesting, and is similar, I feel like, to some of what you were saying earlier, about these nomadic hill tribes in Thailand. They’re not nomadic anymore, you said.

MEXIENo, they’re sedentary, but yeah.

MARINERight. That, as vegans, for example, we may reject and condemn the labor and the burden of water buffalo plowing the fields for rice. But think about India, the largest vegetarian population that we know of.
00:31:57:00MARINEThink about the sacred cow, and all that it offers them. It’s not just milk. Dung, manure is essential to the vegetables they grow. They use it in home construction, and in some areas, burn it for heat. And, more importantly, use it for cooking fuel. So, what is the cost and benefit analysis of this? And how exploitative, or how mutually beneficial is this relationship? I mean, definitely, surely on a more large-scale level, that is a much more sustainable way to live, and also, a much kinder way to live for our ecosystem. And so, as a result, of course, for animals, as well, than industrialized farming… Even with a vegan diet. 

MEXIEYeah, no, I feel like that is such a good point, that vegans…don’t talk about, ever. 
00:32:56:00MEXIEI feel like vegans always just kind of throw out that line of, everyone needs to go vegan, and that’ll solve all the problems in the world. It’ll solve the planetary problems, it’ll solve your health problems, it’ll solve every problem. Animal ethics, animal rights. But yeah, no, I mean, we have to think about the inputs. We have to think about how are we going to farm all of this without animals, without animals being a part of this. And I mean, as we just talked about, if you think about our history, we’ve never done this without animals. Even if we were just farming vegetables, we haven’t done this without the help of animals, or without being in relationship with other animals, right.

MARINERight, yeah. And even, I mean, there is veganic farming, which vegans bring up all the time. And veganic farming is possible. But it also takes up more energy, and more work, and more land. Especially, more land. And you can also use seaweed as…
00:33:57:00MARINEFertilizer. But seaweed, it’s not applicable to any region of the world. And it’s also, seaweed is someone else’s home, right [TALKS OVER] someone else’s environment. So, I don’t, I’m sure it’s sustainable, in some cases. But it definitely can’t replace animal manure, on a global scale.

MEXIEEspecially with what’s happening to our oceans right now. Our oceans are dying, so we can’t rely on that. 

MARINERight. But on the other hand, you could think about keeping chickens in your backyard, which provides fantastic manure, and it would require less resources, and disturb less habitats. And also, give you a higher protein return, for much less space, if you just eat an egg every once in a while, for example.  And, in addition, their manure will help you grow your own vegetables. So, it’s a great source of nitrogen, and potassium, and all those things that I was talking about earlier.
00:34:56:00MARINEI mean, I’m no expert in this. [LAUGHS] As I said, this view were really helped inform me. So, I’m just relaying the information and giving it as food for thought. I’m by no means saying I’m an authority on veganic, or any other kind of farming. But I do think that it’s interesting to think about, because it really, at least being approached by someone who had such incredibly enriching knowledge about different agricultural practices throughout the world, and who really had a deep understanding of how to enrich the soil, and how to grow your foods, and what that meant for your environment, was really humbling, in a lot of ways. Because I was like, fuck, I need to think about this more.

MEXIEYeah. They actually had, when I was going through at UofT, I was taking environmental studies, or environmental anthropology. And, at that time in Toronto, there was actually this environmental movement of people who really wanted to push the city to allow people to have backyard chickens.
00:35:58:00MEXIEBecause they said, that would be so much better, so much more environmental for, first of all, people to be getting their eggs that way, and not through the factory-farmed chicken-coops, which are just fucking disgusting. I mean, just absolutely horrifying. Just horrid. So, it would be better than that, but also, yeah, as you were saying, it would be better, environmentally, if people wanted to grow food in their backyards, etc. So, there was a big movement around that, but I feel like the…city of Toronto didn’t actually allow that, at the time. But I feel like we should push for that again. Or just push for more allowances for people to actually do things more self-sustainably. 

MARINEAnd it’s interesting that, as a vegan who’s incredibly passionate about animal rights, you would consider something like that. I think that a lot of vegans, they’re so focused on this…
00:36:59:00MARINEThey’re just so focused on having a plant-based diet, and the ills of the meat industry, which are certainly just horrid, as you said, and very legitimate, that they don’t see how inextricably tied their diet is to industrialized farming, that’s incredibly unsustainable. And how reliant it is on animal manure. Now, of course, that’s not to say that even if our diets are dependent on animal manure, to some extent, it excuses the horrors of the meat industry, in any way. But…yeah, that we do need to think about, that we do need to reconcile the fact that a symbiotic relationship with animals doesn’t mean just going vegan in industrialized nations, and having a plant-based diet that you get from the grocery store.

MEXIEYeah, no, absolutely. Well, I think a lot of vegan, I mean, if you have a relationship with an animal, in which you are benefiting in any way, I feel like you can make the argument that, oh, this is exploitative, right.
00:38:04:00MEXIESo, if you think about backyard chickens, I feel like there are a lot of vegans who would be like, oh well, that’s not right, because you’re keeping that chicken there or whatever. But it’s like, well, also, this chicken is having a pretty sweet life in my backyard, with no predators.  I’m not killing the chickens. I’m letting them have their babies, and run around, and do whatever they want. And I’m taking a couple of unfertilized eggs every once in a while, you know what I mean? So, I don’t know. And it’s fine, also, if you’re a vegan, and if you really just feel like that kind of relationship is not something that you would be okay with, that’s also fine. I just feel like, if we’re trying to find global solutions for the planetary crisis, for animal enslavement, and animal rights, and animal liberation, and everything like that, then yeah, I don’t really foresee a future where we don’t have [LAUGHS] relationships with animals, in which we are going to benefit in some way.
00:39:05:00MEXIEBut they are also going to benefit in some way. I mean, we’re part of an ecosystem, so. But it’s about reevaluating that relationship, you know what I mean.

MARINEAnd we shouldn’t let the meat industry define the whole of how we could possibly relate to animals, and live in symbiosis with them, or use them. I feel like that’s allowing ourselves to be recolonized. [LAUGHS]

MEXIENo, exactly. If we think about, because I feel like, a lot of people, a lot of vegans wouldn’t eat eggs, I feel like, because they think it’s not healthy, and they think it’s weird and whatever—it’s like a chicken’s period [LAUGHS], you know what I mean?

MARINEI agree. As a vegan who just consumes from the convenience of my own supermarket, I’d never eat eggs.

MEXIERight, I mean, so I understand people having that feeling, or being like, oh, gross, or whatever.
00:39:57:00MEXIEBut at the same time, we can’t think of what happens in an industrialized chicken or egg production facility, we can’t equate that with what happens in someone having a backyard chicken. It’s just not even close to the same thing.

MARINENo.

MEXIEBut I feel like a lot of vegans are like, oh, it’s the same, you know what I mean? You’re still exploiting it, you’re still eating eggs, that’s gross, that’s wrong. But I just feel like there’s a huge difference in the relationship there.  First of all, it’s not capitalist. It’s not that you’re treating these animal bodies as commodities. 

MARINERight, and there’s an exchange between you and the chicken that is just not monetary.

MEXIEExactly, it’s not monetary at all. It’s just a relationship.

MARINERight.

MEXIEWhereas if you’re buying it from, yeah, a capitalist source, then they are, of course, they’re breeding these chickens so that they lay so many eggs that their bodies can’t even support them, and they’re getting sick, and they’re dying in there. And then, they’re killing all the male chicks. That’s fucked up, right? 
00:40:56:00MEXIEBut I mean, you can’t really, you can’t let that, how horrible the production of eggs is, in that situation, make us think that anyone, like these hill-tribes in Thailand, who have chickens and eat the eggs, there’s no comparison.

MARINEMm-hmm, yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s not possible for us to remove ourselves fully from having some kind of relationship with animals, or of them having some sort of relationship with us. [SIGHS] I do feel like…although, in the abstract, all of these arguments make a lot of sense to me, and they are very legitimate questions that I honestly don’t know how to answer. Like what would a sustainable relationship with animals truly look like? I feel like we’ve just fucked shit up so much, honestly, and we’re so many at this point—we’re 7, or 8, or 9 billion people. I think 7–

MEXIE[TALKS OVER] 7.5, I think. 

MARINE–it changes every other week.
00:41:55:00MARINEThat I’ve heard that now, the reality of our global population and food sources could never be met without industrialized farming.

MEXIESee, I make that argument. But I make that argument to say that we shouldn’t be eating animals. [LAUGHS]

MARINERight.

MEXIESo, no. And the amount of meat that an American eats, versus even a European, versus someone from Africa, is such a huge difference, right. So, if we’re thinking of trying to meet the needs of 7.5 billion people, eating an American, meat-heavy diet, no, there’s no fucking way we can do that. But, I argue that we really shouldn’t be eating the meat, unless it’s extremely sparingly, or for some tribes or whatever, they’re not going to stop eating meat. But we should be viewing that as a reason to stop consuming so much meat. But, we could have these other, as [we] said, backyard chickens. We could have other ways of having relationships with animals, that would still provide us with sustenance, or that would help us to grow our vegetable crops in ways that actually help to provide those inputs into the soil that we need.
00:43:09:00MEXIEAnd then, that’s how we could sustain this huge population, because all of that land-space that’s now going to feed animals on food-lots, that could be converted into…food for people. Or just forest, because we have so much more of it. So yeah, I think that’s a great reason why we should reduce or eliminate our meat consumption. But that doesn’t mean that we would necessarily eliminate having domesticated animals. 

MARINEYeah, no, I 100% agree with that. I guess, I was just also referring to the whole argument of how farming would look if it wasn’t so mechanized, and it was more sustainable, and it was more local, and based on a symbiotic relationship.
00:44:01:00MARINESometimes, I feel like the possibility of going back to that is not very feasible, with how things are going, and how many people we are. But I don’t think that’s a reason to keep animal farming. I’m just wondering if…veganism, in an industrialized way, is… Unavoidable, do you know what I mean?

MEXIEI feel like, considering 70% of the cereal grains, for example, that are grown in the United States, go to feeding animals, that’s a massive amount of land-space. I think it’s like 50% of the land-space is used in–

MARINEYeah, I think a third of the land-space worldwide [LAUGHS]–

MEXIEYeah, but I mean, 50% is used in America, and only [LAUGHS] 1% of that is actually crops that people eat. 
00:44:55:00MEXIESo, I feel like people make a big deal about population–

MARINEIt’s so true.

MEXIE–I think the problem is capitalism, and I think the problem is the way that we’re using our resources. So, I feel as though, even as much as we are in our population in the world today, I feel like, if we were not operating on a for-profit basis, and if we were not consuming meat…if we were consuming like 5 to 10% of the meat that we’re consuming today, then of course we could sustain ourselves, and we could think about things that are more sustainable, and more local, and more symbiotic.

MARINEMm-hmm. And side rant [LAUGHS] this unleashed growth of population under capitalism, is because capitalism requires population growth to satisfy its exponential growth, forever and ever. We need a constantly increasing, exploitative labor force, and also, people to consume, in order to keep going with the capitalist system, so.
00:45:59:00MEXIEYeah, that’s one of the most troubling things.

MARINEYeah, people who argue for capitalism, because it’s the only way to satisfy this population growth, I want to be like, hello—this population growth is never going to stop, because [you] keep pushing capitalism, in order to sustain it.

MEXIEYeah, places like Japan, and Germany, or whatever, where they’re actually seeing a decline in population. They’re seeing people having fewer and fewer kids, it’s causing so many economic problems, because there’s no young people to come up through the workforce. And so, people are actually thinking now about how, we need to increase our population, we need to sustain our population and grow it–

MARINEOf course.

MEXIEBecause you can’t have a growing economy without a growing population. And that is so fucking disturbing to me. It is so disturbing. Especially when people try to say like, oh, overpopulation is a problem. And I’m like, well, then capitalism is the problem. Like, fuck.

MARINEYeah. How are you going to satisfy a system of unleashed exponential growth, without a growing population?

MEXIESeriously.
00:46:56:00MARINEHuh? Huh? How.

MEXIENo, you’re not. And you’re not even going to do it anyway, because we don’t have the biophysical resources to do it. 

MARINEGod.

MEXIEGod. [LAUGHTER]

MARINEThis wine is getting to my head.

MEXIEYeah, we decided to drink wine during this episode, so.

MARINEThis is the first time I’m drinking wine during an episode. 

MEXIE[TALKS OVER] I do it quite frequently.

MARINE–really partly to blame for this decision. [LAUGHTER] I’m not regretting it, but I feel like it loosens you up, but it just has the effect of just tongue-tying me and making me less coherent.

MEXIEI disagree.

MARINEOnly the playback of this episode will tell me if that’s true.

MEXIEI think you’re going to love it when you play it back. I think it’s great. [LAUGHTER] 

MARINEThis is reminding me, we don’t have to include this, but when you go to the hairdresser’s, and the hairdresser keeps saying how amazingly they’re cutting your hair.
00:47:55:00MARINEAnd it’s totally a way to make you think that they’re doing a good job. I feel like this is what we’re doing with the podcast. Being like, you’re going to love this when you listen back– 

MEXIEAnd then you finish it after, and you’re just like, I hate it, but you don’t know what to say. And you’re just like, okay, [INDISTINCT]

MARINEBecause they’re like, oh, I really just did such a fantastic job. You look incredible. And you’re like, uh…

MEXIEAnd then you end up paying them, even though you’re like, I don’t like it. But then you’re like, well, you did your job, but I just didn’t like what you did. [LAUGHTER]

MARINEI know. And it’s like, it becomes this thing where you don’t want to rain on their parade, because they’re really proud. But I feel like it’s this weird manipulation tactic that probably all hairdressers know that they do. I feel like they probably instruct them to really openly compliment their work, in hairdressing school.

MEXIEYeah, probably. But yeah, and I’ve had other people say, well then why did you pay for it, if you hated it? And I’m like, well, because they did all that. They did hours of labor. 

MARINE[LAUGHS] And I was socialized as a fucking woman to say that I liked [it].

MEXIEYeah, exactly. So, I was like, I guess it’s fine. Then I would just go home and cry. [LAUGHTER]
00:49:01:00MARINEYeah, too true. Whoa. Okay, where were we?

MEXIEProbably beasts of burden.

MARINEOh yeah, that. So, next, we’re going to change gears a little bit, and talk about the domestication of animals as our pets, and the fact that we have altered different species of animals so much, that what should we do with them, going forward?  I know that this is a very active conversation in vegan circles. And I think it’s a conversation that’s, a lot of times, had in pretty disturbing ways. And I recently read a book called Beasts of Burden, by Sonora Taylor. I have been speaking about this book to Mexie, pretty much every single day. [LAUGHS] Since I read it, because it’s just really, really great.
00:49:55:00MARINEAnd she has a whole chapter on the domestication of pets. What I found really interesting was that a lot of people, and vegans included, view domesticated species of pets, such as cows… [LAUGHTER]

MEXIEI would love a pet cow. 

MARINEYeah, I would love a pet cow, too. And she talks about certain species of pets, like cats, and wiener-dogs, and dwarf rabbits, and why are you laughing?

MEXIEWiener dogs and dwarf rabbits. [LAUGHTER] I’m just looking at pictures of dwarf rabbits right now, and they’re so fucking cute.

MARINEYeah, off-air, we just had a whole conversation about if dwarf rabbits is a thing. And it is a thing, okay? 

MEXIEOh my god, everyone Google dwarf rabbits. You’re welcome.

MARINE–they’re so cute. [LAUGHTER] So, right, that we see them as being unnatural, and very dependent, and unfit for the world. 
00:51:01:00MARINEAnd how that actually reproduces a very ableist way of seeing animals, and how it’s quite dangerous to see entire species of living beings as unnatural, or as dependent, and so, inherently less valuable than the rest of the able-bodied, capable, less-dependent population.  And how that has been used to oppress and kill a lot of people. This whole notion that disabled people have no real place in nature, because they wouldn’t be able to survive, and that the only reason that they’re able to live, is thanks to people’s goodness.  And dependence is also an excuse for exploitation. Always. And I feel like the fact that dependence has such an extremely negative connotation is also a product of our individualist culture.
00:52:00:00MARINEThis idea that we can just, we’re able to survive without being dependent. But the truth is, that we’re all dependent, to varying degrees. It’s just that our society structures itself in order to accommodate certain abilities, and neglects others. But we’re so dependent, for irrigation, and for food.  None of us, I’m sorry, if they parachuted me, or if they dropped me off into the wild, I wouldn’t survive 24 hours. I’m very dependent. And we all are. So, it’s such a false binary to think that certain people are dependent, and others are not, because the reality is, that we are all, we all exist on a spectrum of dependency.

MEXIEYeah, I mean, even to think about that ridiculous trope of, pull yourselves up by the bootstraps, or whatever. 
00:52:54:00MEXIEIt’s like, even people who are in really high positions today, it’s like, well, your mom helped you when you were young. They helped you do your homework, you know what I mean?

MARINE[TALKS OVER] We start off our lives being extremely dependent, and we end our lives being dependent, too.

MEXIERight, exactly. And your teachers and everything. You’re not just doing this by yourself, ever. 

MARINERight. And she makes this great point, that the negative consequences of dependency are largely human-made. So, through economic disenfranchisement, social marginalization, imprisonment, and societal, cultural, and architectural barriers. And that also helps construct this false dichotomy of dependent versus not dependent. And so, a much better way to relate to each other, would be to see how we mutually benefit, and we mutually exist together. And we live in a constant relationship with dependency to each other. Because the trope of strict dependency, first of all, it’s false. But it also incentivizes the population, whether it be of humans or non-human animals. 
00:54:01:00MARINEAnd it negates how those people contribute to our families, and our communities, and our cultures. It really negates and overlooks how those people greatly enrich our lives. And she says that she sees it as very dangerous to think that it would be meaningless or counterproductive to support the liberation of these populations that we’ve domesticated, because they are supposedly dependent and damaging. She says that she finds the extinction argument very troubling, especially when one recognizes the extent to which these assumptions are based on dependency, naturalness, and quality-of-life, which have been used over and over again to devalue the lives of disabled people. And that have also been used to further the most atrocious iterations of eugenics.

MEXIEOh, yeah.
00:54:57:00MARINEI mean, yeah. So, I don’t feel comfortable saying that those populations should, since they’re unnatural, and since they’re supposedly dependent on us, should go extinct. 

MEXIENo, me neither. Yeah, I mean, obviously, you don’t have a lot of pets or whatever. But I’ve always had dogs, I suppose. 

MARINEI know how much you love them.

MEXIEI love them so fucking much. I mean, I don’t have them, actually.

MARINEIn your voice-note before this episode, you were like, I love my dogs so much. I don’t care if that doesn’t make me [vegan]. [LAUGHS]

MEXIEI know. I mean, they’re not even mine, technically. They’re my parents’. But I go home a lot and visit them, and they love me so much. They just freak the fuck out when I come home. They’re so happy. And then we cuddle, and we do all this fun stuff together, that we both love.  It’s not like they’re sitting there like, oh, I’m being oppressed. I’m forced to do this with this fucking human.

MARINEOf course. And we need to recognize that.

MEXIE[LAUGHS] Yeah. Like they’re so goddamn happy.
00:55:56:00MEXIEAnd I totally understand the moral argument of like, is it moral, or is it ethical to keep these animals, when we’re basically directing a lot of their lives, right. And I understand, some people make the argument that it’s like, okay, if people go off to work, and then these animals are really, really sad and devastated, and they’re staying home–

MARINEOf course. Oh, people abuse their pets so fucking much.

MEXIERight, exactly. I mean, there’s definitely, I feel like that’s a situation that’s made more possible under capitalism, but maybe not. But just the fact that, if you’re seeing it like, I own this pet, because I bought it with money.

MARINE[TALKS OVER] Right, I mean, pets are a product of consumerism.

MEXIERight, it’s like, I bought it. We’ve moved away from the days of symbiosis, and the fact that the dogs were helping the humans, and the humans were helping the dogs. But I feel like that doesn’t mean you can’t still have that kind of a relationship.
00:56:56:00MEXIEBut, I feel like perhaps, under capitalism, some people are like, well, I bought this thing, so I own it. Maybe that can kind of lend itself to abuse. Although, I’m sure there’s people who can abuse animals no matter what, no matter–

MARINEAnd the breeding industry is so fucking disgusting. This whole concept of, I want a new pet, and I want this pet to look–

MEXIEThis way, yeah.

MARINE–supremely pure way, is–

MEXIEIt’s so true. I mean, we could do an expose of the pet industry and everything, and pet stores, and how disgusting that is. So, I mean, yeah, I completely understand the morality of it. But I just feel like, I don’t envision a future where we won’t have special relationships with animals. That we won’t have animals that are perhaps kinship animals, that live with us, and that enrich our lives, and we enrich theirs. So, yeah. 
00:57:56:00MARINEYeah, I think the crux of that is…recognizing that we, that their lives are valuable, and that their lives are valuable, independently of the fact that we think that they’re just overly dependent on us. I think that a lot of people think, well, I’m affording this animal a great life, because without me, they would be dead in two seconds. But recognizing, and Sonora Taylor talks about this, recognizing non-verbal modes of communications. And human people who are non-verbal, or who are disabled, learning to recognize their patterns, or their bodily movements, to learn how to communicate with them, and really meet their needs. And also, recognize how they enrich our lives, and how ableism, a lot of times, manifests in our society by diagnosing whole categories of people with a certain label. 
00:58:55:00MARINEAnd so, assuming that we know everything about their quality of life, we know everything about their abilities, and what they will be able to achieve in their lives. And how these labels and diagnoses really dehumanize people, and depersonify them, and oppress them. And I think that’s the same thing with domesticated animals, by saying, all these animals are just unnatural, and we’ve bred them in a certain way, and their quality of life is negative. And so, they should all go extinct, or their lives are less valuable. That is incredibly dangerous, and that’s the same thing. That’s like stripping someone of their individuality, because we impose a diagnosis on them that is actually really socially constructed. It is not at all…cognizant of their personhood. And so, it’s really troubling to me when vegans—and right now, I’m talking about vegans. I’m not saying that they’re the only ones that make this argument, but I know that some very prominent vegans, such as Gary Francione and other abolitionist vegans, make the argument that these animals, that there’s no ethical way to keep domesticated animals, or that they should all go extinct.
01:00:08:00MARINEAnd yeah, reading Sonora Taylor’s book really made me think more about how that very argument was rooted in ableism, was rooted in speciesism, and was very dangerous.

MEXIEI feel like somebody like Gary Francione, he’s not able to take himself out of the capitalist mindstate. I feel like he’s not even remotely critical of capitalism at all. So, because if you think about, he’s thinking, oh, there’s no ethical way to have this relationship. And I feel like, under capitalism, there probably isn’t, because at the end of the day, even if I have a wonderful fucking relationship with my dogs, I still purchase them, and so I technically own them. So, it’s not necessarily like when we think about the early humans, where wolves and dogs voluntarily came into their space, and then they both helped each other, and then they ended up forming relationships, and bonds, and everything like that.
01:01:00:00MEXIEThere is that layer of like, well, I purchased you, you know what I mean? And so, but I feel like he’s not really thinking outside of this capitalist framework. And so, if we’re talking about post-capitalism, or communism, I feel like maybe that does open up space for us to have different relationships, that we can think of as more ethical, or as at least symbiotic, and not necessarily completely exploitative.

MARINEAbsolutely. And I think that this argument is also dangerous, because it exempts us from the accountability that we have in making these animals…quote-unquote dependent, and unsustainable, and unnatural. These animals were created by humans, in environments that are unable to support them. And that animals themselves shouldn’t be responsible, or become scapegoats for our atrocious human choices. And locating the problem in their physicality is so fucked up. [TALKS OVER] a responsibility towards those animals. Those animals shouldn’t become the symbol of what’s unsustainable. 
01:02:07:00MARINEWhat’s unsustainable is us. You know?

MEXIEAnd our political economy.

MARINERight. I meant to say that. I’m not, yeah, I was like, did that just sound like I think all of humanity is equally responsible for this shit that we’ve created?

MEXIEYeah. We’re not. [LAUGHS]

MARINENope.

MEXIEYeah, I just wanted to mention, I don’t know if now is the time to mention that when we talk about domesticated, we’re talking specifically now about pets, right. But we are talking about domesticated animals more broadly. But I think a common argument that I get from non-vegans, who come across my work and my channel or whatever, is that, well, what the hell are we going to do with the 40 billion land-animals that are living in the world today? Are we just going to let them live, and support them, and let them overrun our resources and everything?
01:02:58:00MEXIEAnd it’s just like, no. We’ve been talking this entire episode, in the question, he framed it as if we were already in a communist utopia. So, we’re already post-capitalism. That’s what we’re talking about here. 

MARINEYeah, and we talked about just the history of domestication, too.

MEXIERight, exactly. But if we’re thinking about today, and the scale of factory farming, we’re not thinking that all of those animals are, we’re just going to keep them, and we have a responsibility to keep them. We’re thinking that, over time, no one’s going to be going vegan overnight. We’re thinking of this as a gradual shift, right. It’s not going to happen like that. So, over time, as demand for meat, specifically, as demand for meat from factory farms, or for eggs from factory farms, as that decreases and decreases, then slowly, those businesses are going to go out of business. They’re not going to be producing all of those land animals. So, we’re not going to ever be in a situation where there’s like 50 billion cattle that we just don’t know what the fuck to do with, right. 
01:03:58:00MEXIEWe’re talking about [LAUGHS] a move away from that factory model. And then, thinking about, yeah, I mean, the hill tribes in Thailand, thinking about India, thinking about different formations, where there are still domesticated animals, but it’s not a huge factory farm, with billions that are just waiting to go to slaughter. That’s not what we’re talking about, so I just wanted to make that clear.

MARINE[TALKS OVER] I actually feel like you’re precisely getting to the point that I just made, of you’re…situating the problem with our domestication of animals, and our speciesist system, in the system. Not in the biological existence of a certain bred and quote-unquote unnatural animal. I think it’s really problematic when people start to say, start to think that it’s the animals themselves that are unsustainable. 
01:04:56:00MARINEEven sometimes, I have an issue with how people talk about cow farts, and all the shit that the cows are producing. I’m like, no, no, the cows are fine. The problem is the system of breeding and exploitation that we’ve created around them. Let’s not use them as scapegoats for what we’ve done, you know?

MEXIERight, I mean, obviously the problem is factory and capitalism, that produces a system where we have 40 billion, I don’t know, I’m just throwing out this number. We have like [TALKS OVER] billions of cattle in this small, enclosed area, eating food that they’re not supposed to be eating. Eating corn, grains, soy. And then obviously, yeah, farting, [LAUGHS] and then creating methane. But that has nothing to do with a cow, as a species. It has to do with our system. So, yeah, I just want to make clear that a lot of what we’re talking about, we’re already thinking about post-capitalism, and people moving towards veganism.
01:05:56:00MEXIEBut that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have any relationships with animals, or any domestication, etc. We are animals. Humans are animals. We are part of an ecosystem. We like to pretend that we’re not. We like to shut ourselves into our modern houses, and pump ourselves full of air conditioning, and get away from the natural [LAUGHS] everything.  But, we’re animals. And so, we have to conceive of ourselves as part of that ecosystem, and just reevaluate how we’re going to have a relationship with other species. But we’re going to have them, [LAUGHS] and we’re going to benefit, and other species are also going to benefit. But, yeah.

MARINEYeah, and this post-capitalist system, or this other way of relating to animals, needs to be guided by a vision of mutually beneficial relationships, and of compassion, and of sustainability. And I really think that until those questions become the central point of our reflections, we really have no idea what the future could look like.
01:07:00:00MARINEI feel like the sky’s the limit, if that is really…what all of our reflections and what our systems are responding to, is freedom, and equality. And one question, actually, she asks in the book is…when rethinking our relationship to domesticated animals, she says, do we really want to enact another coercive force over their individual lives and species, by leading them to extinction, based on the assumption that their lives are less worth living than wild animals. I find the idea that the solution for the wrongs of domestication is to erase the very population we [have farmed] unsettling. And yeah, I think that that is very true. I think that, a lot of times, we think that we can just right our wrongs by eradicating what we’ve done. And I think that that’s an attitude that is pervasive towards all the shit we’ve done with capitalism.
01:07:56:00MARINEThat we can just obliterate a certain population, or obliterate a certain way of being, and just start fresh, and start with innovation. But it’s like, no, you can’t do that. As I talked about earlier, everything is input and output. There’s nothing that’s just created, or that’s just given up. That’s not how our ecosystem works. [LAUGHS] The repercussions are going to bite you in the ass, at some point.

MEXIEI think that’s one of the biggest problems, that nobody sees themselves as part of an ecosystem. Nobody. And nobody understands what that means, so. And that’s true of capitalism, that’s true of everything that we’re talking about today.  But yeah, I just want to make clear that, for people who are living privileged lives, and who do not have any semblance of a symbiotic relationship with prey animals, that we’re not say that it’s fine if you go out to the grocery store and just buy meat.  We’re not saying that that’s ethical, in the slightest.

MARINEI feel like no one’s going to get that impression.
01:08:56:00MEXIEYeah.

MARINEBut I completely agree.

MEXIEI just feel like, there’s definitely people who will take this and be like, oh, well, good, yeah, I can buy my meat from an ethical, local farmer. And it’s like, no, girl, you can’t. That’s not what we’re saying at all.

MARINEYou should listen to our first episode–

MEXIE–that’s not what we’re say at all. [LAUGHS]

MARINENo. No, I think it’s just about rethinking our relationship to animals, and reorganizing our speciesist system, in a way that acknowledges how much our speciesist system is formed by the creation of agriculture, civilization, and capitalism. Everything. And I really don’t know how my relationship would look like to the ecosystem, and to every person who’s in the ecosystem, if I hadn’t, if this wasn’t the only model that I had experience with.

MEXIEExactly. And so, this is why we need to tear it the fuck to the ground, and rebuild something that’s more sensible.
01:09:56:00MEXIEAnd so, these are important conversations for us to have, to think about, well, what is more sensible. 

MARINEYeah. And I wanted to leave off with a quote by Sonora Taylor, that I thought was really great. It’s sort of long. It’s going to take like two minutes, but it’s really interesting, I swear. So, she says, instead of continuing to exploit animals, or leading them to extinction, we could realize our responsibility to these animals we have co-evolved with, and whom we also helped create. We could take seriously the ways domesticated animals contribute to our lives and world, in ways that don’t involve slaughter. We could recognize our mutual dependence, our mutual vulnerability|, and our mutual drive for life. We could also start listening to what those who need care are communicating about their own lives, feelings, and the care they are receiving. For better or for worse, our co-evolution with domesticated species have created animals with whom we are deeply entangled, both ecologically and emotionally. 
01:10:58:00MARINEThese animals remind us that we, ourselves, are part of nature. But they also remind us that we are capable of deep coercion and exploitation. That we, too, have often dominated those we deem dependent and vulnerable. To do right by these animals, now, means respecting their dependence, their interdependence, and, indeed, their naturalness, as beings who have just as much of a right to live out their lives on this planet, as we do.

MEXIE[SIGHS] Beautiful.

MARINEIsn’t is beautiful?

MEXIESo good. 

MARINEI just love this book so much.

MEXIE[LAUGHS] I feel like I want to read it, but I feel like I already have, [LAUGHS] since you’ve told me about it.

MARINEQuick plug: I’m about to release a 30-minute video on my channel about it.

MEXIEI’m so excited. 

MARINESo yeah, but I still only cover a fraction of it, because it’s really great. It’s so good. 

MEXIE[LAUGHS]
01:11:56:00MEXIEYeah, so thank you so much for such an interesting series of questions. That was really great. And yeah, thank you to everyone who sent in their questions. And we’ll definitely keep those on file, and be revisiting those in the future. 

MARINERight, and I feel like now is a good time to say that we just have a rolling admission for questions. How about that?

MEXIESure, for sure.

MARINEYou can always email Vegan Vanguard, we’ll keep them on file. Because even though we envision, at first, we were like, maybe we should solicit questions, and answer three of them. It turned out that there’s a question that we wanted to dedicate a whole episode to, and there’s several questions–

MEXIESeveral questions that I feel like we could do–

MARINE–carceral feminism, I want to do a full episode on that.

MEXIEYeah, and there’s one about depression and activist fatigue, and everything [TALKS OVER] very good.

MARINEAnd effective altruism.

MEXIEYeah, there’s a lot of them, actually, so. And robots. [LAUGHS]

MARINEAnd robots, yeah. So, if you want to send in questions, they will influence what we choose to cover in the future, for sure.
01:12:59:00MEXIEAbsolutely. So, thanks for all the input, and all of the support via Patreon, and via Twitter, and everything. That’s another great way to support the show, is to share our episodes via your social networks, and with your friends. So, yeah, thank you so much.

MARINEI think I’m going to get Twitter soon.

MEXIEDo it. 

MARINEI think I might be, wait, but then, I’m thinking that is going to represent a considerable chunk of hours that I’m going to spend on the computer and my phone, than I would have otherwise.

MEXIEYeah, they’re fun hours, though. You just kind of check in and you’re like, oh man, this is funny.

MARINEI know, but I’m already trying to emancipate myself. [LAUGHTER]

MEXIE–you’ve chosen the wrong profession.

MARINE[TALKS OVER] I mean, you honestly give me FOMO whenever you talk about Twitter, because I feel like you have all these great conversations, and you can keep up with even how the show is being shared a lot better, and–

MEXIEPeople are far more responsive on Twitter than they are on Facebook. I have hardly any followers on Facebook, but a lot of people [who] actually give a shit on Twitter.
01:13:59:00MARINEMm, all right, well, thanks for listening, everyone.

MEXIEYeah, thank you. And we’ll see you in two weeks.

MARINESee you in two weeks.

MEXIEBye.

MARINEBye. [LAUGHTER]


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