Tag Archives: Ireland

Irish Car Bombs aren’t Cruelty-Free, but Not for the Reasons You Would Expect

Content Warning: Discusses violence against civilians and children in Ireland during The Troubles.

A couple drops a shot of Baileys Irish Cream into a pint of Guiness

As St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, I notice the usual sharing of veganized Irish recipes on social media sites. As with many Western countries, traditional Irish foods tend to be heavily based on Nonhuman Animal products.1 Usually vegans at least catch a break in the alcohol department, with most popular beers and liquors being animal-free. Sadly, this is not the case for many Irish drinks like Bailey’s and Guinness.2 Even brands that are vegan in America are not vegan there. With few options, I am left drinking a lot of crappy Coors Light or expensive local brews when I visit.

I can understand the social desire to drink what everyone else is drinking, especially on popular drinking holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. One of the biggest inhibitors for vegans is that desire to fit in. There is one known Guinness variety available in America that is vegan, but good luck finding it. As for Bailey’s, the veganized recipes are drearily complicated. Then, there is the inevitable desire to combine the two to create the ubiquitous “Irish Car Bomb.”

For those who aren’t in the know, the Irish Car Bomb is a widely available American drink that is especially popular on St. Patrick’s Day. It consists of a shot of Bailey’s dumped into a pint of Guinness. The drinker must consume the drink quickly before the cream in the Bailey’s curdles the beer. Yuck.

I went vegan years before I reached the legal drinking age, so I’ve never had one. Neither do I feel as though I’m missing out. Definitely not vegan, or appealing. However, this is more than a matter of nonvegan ingredients. This drink represents an important intersection in oppression.

The thing is, Irish car bombs are a symbol of national tragedy. For a period in the 1960s- 90s known as “The Troubles,” intense political skirmishing occurred in Northern Ireland with a clear ethnic and religious undercurrent. This was a gruesome time. Cities became dangerous places; folks were afraid to go out at night. Car bombing was commonplace. People were killed, some of them children. At times, bodies of victims were so dismembered from the explosions, their cleanup necessitated a shovel.

The Troubles are part of a centuries-long history of Irish oppression, with many millions suffering, starving, and dying. Even today, Northern Ireland has the highest rate of PTSD in the world. Meanwhile in America, vegans are more preoccupied with a good time in the bar with “cruelty-free” novelty drinks.

Child stands next to burning rubble and exploded car

Veganism as a political endeavor is first and foremost about Nonhuman Animals, but it cannot end with Nonhuman Animals. Vegans must begin to recognize intersections. This will necessitate a firm rejection of any objectification or commodification of human suffering in “vegan” products and Nonhuman Animal rights campaigning. So long as the movement fails to take seriously the oppression of vulnerable humans, it will appear calloused, ignorant, and illegitimate.

The vegan movement should, by all means, encourage the creation of plant-based alternatives, but this should be coupled with a respect for the suffering of others. It will be a mistake to taint the vegan project with bigotry and ugliness. Can we call our soy-Bailey ‘n beer mix by another name perhaps? Otherwise, let’s just stick to Jameson’s.

 

Notes:
1. A detailed vegan sociological history of the Irish foodscape can be found here.
2. Guiness has announced that its production process will be altered in late 2016 to become vegan-friendly.

You can read more about eradicating racism and ethnocentrism from effective vegan outreach in A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave 2016).


A version of this post originally published on March 15, 2015 on the Academic Activist Vegan.

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What is Post-Speciesism?

Goat in a grassy meadow, "Atlantic Happy Hogs" brand

Photo from Atlantic Hogs, a “free range” institution in Ireland

 

Speciesism  is institutional discrimination and, to a lesser extent, individual prejudice against Nonhuman Animals based on their species. Speciesism is violence against Nonhuman Animals that is perpetuated by the privileged human species,1 usually for the benefit of humans. It is conducted based on the belief that nonhuman species are lesser in some way. Speciesism relies on the understanding that there is an “us” and a “them,” that humans are at the top, and other animals are below.2

Post-speciesism is an ideology which suggests that species does not matter and/or that speciesism is either a thing of the past or that it is currently being adequately attended to. Post-speciesism relies on the belief that we are “all one” and that we all have an equal place on earth or in the “circle of life.” Violence against other animals continues on to the benefit of humans, but this is no longer interpreted as a form of oppression or domination. In other words, differences in life opportunity that are based on species identification are erased from the narrative.

This erasure is essential to upholding oppression in a society where social justice ideology has been gaining momentum. For instance, Ireland’s commitment to a “green” economy commodifies humanity’s concern with speciesism, rebrands speciesist institutions, and sells essentially the same products for a much higher price because humans are paying for the symbolic value that has been attributed by post-speciesism. “Humane” labeling is the Nike swoosh that differentiates one t-shirt or tennis shoe from the next and justifies the higher price. These labels denote quality and rely on consumer trust to extort the higher price. Post-speciesist ideology facilitates this trust.

Top image shows a skewered pig's corpse charred and sliced, while bottom image shows a happy piglet in clover. Reads, "Atlantic Spit: Amazing Taste for Exciting Part. Our mission is to breed and produce happy animals that will be mouth watering, when they reach they table..."

Atlantic Hogs advertisement in Galway, Ireland

 

Post-speciesism obscures systems of oppression and relationships of domination. It makes human supremacy invisible. It allows a smiling piglet like the one above to be juxtaposed with a burned and bloodied dismembered corpse dripping body fluids and then interpreted as “mouth watering” for an “exciting party.” Species doesn’t matter here: we’re all happy. This isn’t like the old days of speciesism where violence was out, open, and celebrated. In the post-speciesist world, hurting other animals is a thing of the past because these are “happy animals” and the party is exciting.3

This post-speciesist rebranding helps speciesist industries to stand out in a heavily competitive marketplace. As with all capitalist endeavors, ideologies are necessary to obscure exploitation, to make consumption pleasurable, and to encourage the fetishization of the product.

This fetishization process is especially poignant in LUSH Cosmetic’s consumer base. While the company relies heavily on the exploitation of Nonhuman Animals in its mostly non-vegan product line, it appeals to post-speciesist ideology to stand out among the thousands of bath & body chains and create a strong customer loyalty. For instance, LUSH enjoys a faithful following from the majority of the vegan community and even funds some advocacy projects, despite its continued commitment to violence against animals. Post-speciesism thus becomes a diversion.

Screen capture of LUSH's online statement about their "Fresh Organic Free Range Eggs"

 

Consider Lush’s ingredient description for eggs:

Our organic free range eggs come from a farm that’s around 50 miles away from Lush headquarters in Poole. The farmers adhere to strict organic animal welfare standards, so the chickens are well looked after and are given plenty of space to roam outside. They eat quality organic food and are happy and stress-free in their sheds. These are the high standards of care that we expect, and demand, when animals are making such an important contribution to our products.

Notice that the inherent violence of domestication is obscured from the narrative, as is the fate of male chicks who will be killed as part of the process of egg production. The hens are also framed as consenting workers who “make contributions” to the corporation. Everyone is happy and has their place. No one is being hurt. Differences based on species identification are not relevant.

But we know that they are.

As with post-racism and post-feminism, post-speciesism is an ideology that obscures differences in experience based on identity and the very real and very violent consequences of those differences. In doing so, systems of oppression are also obscured to the benefit of society’s most privileged. Post-speciesism, as with many ideologies, is also integral to the smooth operation of the capitalist system, the system from which all oppression originates.

 

This essay was originally published on July 29th, 2015 on The Academic Activist Vegan.

 


Notes

1. Violence here is used interchangeably with oppression. Practically all human uses of other animals involve violence. Importantly, domestication itself is an act of violence. This violence can also be indirect, such as human-created pollution and ecological destruction that threaten free-living species.

2. Just as women can engage sexism against other women, Nonhuman Animals can engage speciesism against other Nonhuman Animals. Importantly, this discrimination must take place within the context of a human institution for the ultimate benefit of anthroparchy. For instance, horses and dogs are often used by humans to hurt or kill other animals and women are sometimes used by men to traffic prostituted girls and women or to produce or cast pornography. Otherwise, violence engaged by Nonhuman Animals exists as a strategy of survival. Nonhuman Animals that are biologically carnivorous would not be said to engage speciesism, as this is relegated to survival. The actions of lions, wolves, dolphins, etc. do not occur within institutions of speciesism as that of humans do. Nonhuman Animals that harm humans are not engaging speciesism for this same reason. 

3. Atlantic Hogs further facilitates this non-violent idyll by informing customers that veterinarians are present in the abattoir. Of course, veterinarians are associated with healing, nurturing, and life, which obscures the reality of suffering and violence that is taking place for human benefit.
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