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Life as a Reflexive Project: The Logics of Ethical Veganism and Meat-Eating

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 University of TennesseeKnoxville, TNUSA
  • | 2 Penn State HarrisburgMiddletown, PAUSA
  • | 3 University of TennesseeKnoxville, TNUSA
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Abstract

This paper is concerned with the ways that vegans and meat-eaters talk about themselves and their dietary practices. Data from a total of 81 semi-structured interviews with ethical vegans (n = 21) and meat-eaters (n = 60) were analyzed for themes and discursive strategies, and results were compared. Vegans insisted that nonhuman animals had interests of their own and spoke of making consumption choices. Meat-eaters tended to reduce animals to human purposes and claimed powerlessness to avoid doing harm to animals while also referencing some license to eating meat. Vegans shared stories of eating meat, whereas few of the meat-eaters did so. Turning points in those (vegan) stories pertained to realizations of harming animals, and thought knowledge were prominent themes in their accounts generally. Vegans were prone to critique past selves and the movement they had aligned themselves with. This research can help promote discourses of compassion and counter discourses of harm.

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