Vegan Campout…for Men?


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Vegan Camp Out is a British vegan festival held every uly that gathers thousands of attendees for a weekend of vegan talks, activities, and socialising. With tickets starting at £85 pounds, Vegan Camp Out is hardly an accessible event. Folks who rely on mobility devices would also find the campground difficult to access. Women, too, it seems are having issues with accessibility. Year after year, “the world’s largest vegan camping festival” features a nearly all-male lineup. 

In 2023, Vegan Camp Out highlights 20 speakers and performers on its promotional flyer. Only 6 of them appear to present as women.

In 2022, it highlighted Earthling Ed, Evanna Lynch, Simon Amstell, Lucy Watson, JME, Gaz Oakley, Bimini Bon-Boulash “and many others.”

In 2021, it celebrated its “incredible line-up” of Russell Brand, BOSH!, Chris Packham, Joey Carbstrong, Benjamin Zephaniah, P Money, Cosmic Skeptic “and more!”

In 2019, it cheered its “impressive line-up” of Earthling Ed, Matt Pritchard, Shikari Sound System, Akala “and many more.”

In 2018, it touted its “fantastic line-up” consisting of Simon Amstell, JME, Macka B, Neal Barnard, Melanie Joy, Heather Mills “and many more!”

The above highlights pulled from the Vegan Camp Out “Previous Years” website (as of April 23, 2023) include 28 speakers and artists. Only four of them present as women (in addition to Bon Boulash who is openly non-binary). The other female speakers, we are left to assume, must be counted among the “many more.”

The fantasy that Vegan Camp Out nurtures, whether intentionally or not, is a vegan movement by men for men. Too often in social movements, women are not deemed worthy of political thought or organizational contribution beyond making coffee and copies or serving as groupies. In the animal rights movement, which is comprised of a female majority (approximately 4 out of 5 vegan activists are women), the invisibilization of women exemplifies institutionalized sexism. It misrepresents, devalues, and erases women’s contributions while platforming men as more interesting, intelligent, and appropriate for leadership.

When challenged on this misrepresentation, Vegan Camp Out responded to me via Facebook on April 20, 2023, noting that their mostly male approach is acceptable because “the number of high profile acts/activists is [not] always proportionate” and “we book our line-up by listening to who our audience wants us to see, rather than us specifically.”

It is a Catch-22. Vegan Camp Out defers to audience polls to determine who will be approached as a speaker. Yet, with perpetual all-male lineups across the animal rights movement, how could the average activist be expected to know of any speakers who are not male? Women aren’t granted platform and this, in turn, ensures they will not be granted platform into perpetuity.

For that matter, the reality is that our society is sexist and male-favoring. Women, too, are socialized by patriarchy. The point is that movement leaders like Vegan Camp Out are in an important and influential position to develop the movement rather than replicate its weaknesses. Rather than recognize this responsibility, leaders too often dismiss anti-sexist critiques with gaslighting.

Vegan Camp Out furthers:

We don’t just book other people that our audience aren’t interested in seeing just to increase the number for that demographic, as we don’t book people based on their race or gender as that would be discriminatory and something we don’t agree with.

Vegan Camp Out bills itself as “The UK’s Best Vegan Festival.” This means it is in a unique position of professional obligation. When feminists and anti-racism activists raise attention to inequality and demand intervention, a common liberal response is to charge them with “reverse sexism” and “reverse racism.” This kind of response is an effective means to resist meaningful diversity efforts and maintain systems of inequality. It is effectively anti-affirmative action to the effect of maintaining white male supremacy. As a social movement, we have a duty to challenge inequality, not make excuses for it. Particularly for community leaders like Vegan Camp Out, it is vital that platforms are used to promote the world we want to see rather than replicate inequality and marginalization. 

The vegan feminist community calls on organizations and individuals to do better. Organizations should actively ensure a diversity of contributors (and accessibility for a diverse audience). Men should boycott events that do not have some semblance of diversity in representation. Everyone can nominate more women, trans women and men, non-binary people, people of color, people with disabilities, and other folks from marginalized groups who, despite their marginalization, have important things to say. Everyone can read more of their work, reference them more, and make space for their ideas and experiences that might differ from the middle-class white male Western experience.

This is not just a matter of equality for our movement, but it is of vital importance for creating a robust and effective movement. Western white men created many of these problems, we should hesitate in deferring to Western white men to fix them. Their expertise should be integrated into a multifaceted repertoire of tactical knowledge and theories of change, not rise to the top of that repertoire and crowd out the rest. This is not a matter of divisiveness; it is a matter of consistency in the anti-oppression work we engage in anti-speciesist spaces. To achieve total liberation for all species, vegan activists must also examine their own participation in inequality. If we, as a movement, cannot take seriously gender discrimination, this renders dubious our challenge to species discrimination. Why? Because oppressions share similar roots and mechanisms; sexism and speciesism are intimately entangled. 


Contact Vegan Camp Out and ask that they step up as movement leaders and ensure a more diverse program:

Twitter: @VeganCampOut
Facebook: @VeganCampOut
Instagram: @VeganCampOut


Read more about this issue in my 2017 essay, “Uh Oh… Your Vegan Panel is All White or Male.”

Learn more about challenging vegan sexism from our “Tips for Male Allies

Corey Lee Wrenn

Dr. Wrenn is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Kent. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology with Colorado State University in 2016. She was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar, 2016 by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She served as council member with the American Sociological Association’s Animals & Society section (2013-2016) and was elected Chair in 2018. She is the co-founder of the International Association of Vegan Sociologists. She serves as Book Review Editor to Society & Animals and is a member of the Research Advisory Council of The Vegan Society. She has contributed to the Human-Animal Studies Images and Cinema blogs for the Animals and Society Institute and has been published in several peer-reviewed academic journals including the Journal of Gender Studies, Environmental Values, Feminist Media Studies, Disability & Society, Food, Culture & Society, and Society & Animals. In July 2013, she founded the Vegan Feminist Network, an academic-activist project engaging intersectional social justice praxis.

She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave MacMillan 2016), Piecemeal Protest: Animal Rights in the Age of Nonprofits (University of Michigan Press 2019), and Animals in Irish Society: Interspecies Oppression and Vegan Liberation in Britain’s First Colony (State University of New York Press 2021).

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Mariage et Patriarcat

Translation by Hypathie: Feminist and Anti-Speciesist Blog. The original English version of this essay can be found by clicking here.

Anita Magsaysay-Ho "Women Feeding Chickens"

By Marv Wheale

Le mariage est une institution ancienne, en même temps que contemporaine. Son aspect culturel réside dans sa capacité à appeler des aspirations telles que l’amour, le bonheur et l’identité. Le cérémonial du mariage lie ensemble des individus à la poursuite d’un avenir satisfaisant et comblé.

Vous ne pouvez pas reprocher à des couples de vouloir une vie merveilleuse, mais le mariage pose pourtant de nombreux problèmes. Je vais en examiner deux :

– Il occulte les inégales conditions sociales des hommes et des femmes ;
– Il dévalorise les autres relations intimes non sexualisées : amicales, fraternelles (entre frères et sœurs) et entre humains et autres animaux, en les renvoyant à un statut inférieur.

La politique sexuelle autour du mariage

Le mariage en tant que dispositif établi par la société dissimule les divisions de pouvoir entre hommes et femmes face à l’intimité qu’ils partagent. Plus simplement, les femmes n’ont pas un statut égal à celui des hommes même quand l’affection qu’ils partagent est profonde : l’assignation aux rôles sexuels / travail reproductif non payé / salaires inégaux sur le marché du travail / participation des hommes disproportionnée aux gouvernements / manque de représentation des femmes à la tête des grandes compagnies, dans la police, les cours de justice et l’Armée / le harcèlement sexuel, le viol, les violences conjugales et le meurtre / l’objettisation sexuelle dans la pornographie, les autres médias et la prostitution. Tous ces facteurs se mêlent à d’autres et sont aggravés par l’ethnie, la classe économique, le handicap, la taille, et l’âge.

Parce que le mariage obscurcit ces inégalités et désavantages, il rend plus difficile l’organisation contre le pouvoir mâle. La mobilisation d’énergie est divertie vers les “intérêts du mariage” qui engloutissent des tonnes de ressources matérielles et émotionnelles en quelque chose qui ne peut satisfaire nos désirs les plus profonds. Il est essentiellement contre-productif d’investir autant dans un but incapable de tenir ses promesses aux hommes et aux femmes en tant que groupes sociaux. De toutes les identités qui affirment la subordination des femmes au patriarcat, le mariage est une des plus influentes.

Les mariages LGBTQ+ en sont une réforme, mais ils ne peuvent pas préserver des sanctions d’une institution fabriquée par la société patriarcale. Toute amélioration du système finit par le légitimer. Pensez aux proclamations du capitalisme végane, aux mesures de bien-être animal, à la pornographie féministe, au travail du sexe…, tous hérauts de la libération. Ces mouvements contradictoires ne peuvent apporter de résultats en vue d’une émancipation. Ils sont tous des illusions libérales.

Les outsiders

Pour mieux appréhender les implications du mariage, vous devez reconnaître la situation où il place celles/ceux hors de ses frontières. Les non mariés sont relégués dans une position sociale subordonnée au motif qu’illes n’atteignent pas le modèle marital. Vivre à l’intérieur de différentes autres unions vous donne un statut inférieur. C’est évident non seulement au niveau de la non reconnaissance culturelle, mais également dans les lois des états. Les relations contractuelles des sexes dans le mariage, reconnues par l’état permettent toutes sortes d’avantages : des réductions d’impôts, des prêts bancaires, l’accès à l’adoption d’enfants, l’accès aux avantages sociaux du partenaire, des privilèges d’assurances santé, des droits de visite à l’hôpital, des directives pré-décès, des droits du survivant, des droits à l’héritage, des droits à l’immigration, et tous les avantages des proches-parents.

Les contre-arguments aux critiques du mariage

Des gens vous diront que c’est une simplification que de voir le mariage comme irrémédiablement sexiste, surpassant toute autre relation platonique. Après tout, des quantités de femmes sont heureuses dans le mariage. De ce point de vue, plus de sensibilité et de crédit devraient être donnés aux exemples particuliers de mariages où les deux époux s’alignent sur les objectifs féministes, et qui respectent le pluralisme des relations des non mariés ; ils proposent que tous les avantages légaux et économiques du mariage soient étendus aux relations alternatives.

De plus, de nombreux couples issus des classes moins privilégiées pensent que le mariage est un refuge : contre la suprématie blanche, l’adversité économique, le capacitisme dominant, et la primauté hétérosexuelle. Ils proclament que bien que le mariage a des inconvénients pour les femmes, il est moins pénalisant que les pesants problèmes imposés par le racisme, le classisme, le capacitisme ou l’hétérosexisme. Ce qui est important pour elles/eux, c’est de centrer le mariage sur la réciprocité et la résistance aux injustices sociales. Dans ces cas, le mariage est estimé fortifier la classe laborieuse, les combats contre le racisme, ceux des handicapés et des LGBTQ+ : en retour, le mariage s’en retrouve fortifié.

Les mariages entre véganes aussi sont vus comme un moyen d’exprimer publiquement un attachement émotionnel, des valeurs communes pour la cause de la libération animale. Ce raisonnement et ces sentiments sont similaires aux autres mariages axés sur la justice sociale.

Dernières remarques

Non, tous les mariages ne sont pas égaux, mais la querelle contre le mariage est politique, car il est une entité politique.

L’idée du mariage, bon ou mauvais, faisant consensus, dépendant du respect mutuel, de l’affection et de la solidarité, masque la réalité des classes de sexe et la privatisation des femmes dans l’institution. Il dévalue celles/ceux qui ne veulent pas en être culturellement et légalement, refusant d’être ébranlés par l’optimisme progressiste des gens mariés à l’esprit aussi ouvert soit-il.

Certainement que l’intimité et l’activisme politique sont accessibles hors liens maritaux.La violence des hommes contre les femmes est un système de pouvoir qui s’exprime majoritairement dans les liens du mariage. Pourquoi promouvoir un système oppressif qui masque l’occupation structurelle des hommes de la vie des femmes ?

Ne pourrions nous pas rendre l’intersectionnalité plus inclusive vis à vis des femmes battues en critiquant le mariage comme une fabrication sociale ? Nous savons que le genre, la race, le capacitisme, la classe, sont des constructions sociales, pourquoi ne pourrions-nous pas dire que le mariage en est une aussi ? Tendons-nous à nous accrocher socialement à des habitudes apprises qui nous empêchent de questionner en profondeur nos visions du monde ?

Je ne demande pas aux gens mariés de se séparer ou de divorcer. Ce serait arrogant, inconséquent et absurde. Ce n’est pas la faute des individus s’ils ont été socialisés par des normes et des valeurs. Mon invitation est de mettre de côté nos résistances aux questionnements et de soumettre nos institutions sociales à l’épreuve de la pensée, du ressenti et du vivre.

Marv is a moderator for the Vegan Feminist Network Facebook page.

Minding Our Language

Content Warning: Discusses sexist, racist, ableist, and heterosexist language.
Not Safe For Work: Some offensive words are presented.

Reads, "It doesn't mean what you think it means!" Picture of a fedora

By Corey Lee Wrenn, M.S., A.B.D., Ph.D.

Language is a process that we begin to learn as children, but continue to refine as adults. Social justice advocates in particular are constantly reevaluating our language with the understanding that words are embedded in power structures. We can disrupt oppression by rejecting particular words or labels. We can create our own power in creating alternatives.

In my own case, this reevaluation began at sixteen.  My friend told me that when I said, “That’s so gay,” it was hurtful to him.  I stopped using it right then and there.  When I got a little older, I realized what “That’s retarded” really meant: “This is so silly and ignorant it’s the equivalent of something that someone with an intellectual disability might say or do.”  I stopped saying it.  When I went vegan, I realized that calling people “chicken,” “cow,” “scaredy cat,” “rat,” etc. used Nonhuman Animals as objects of insult.  I’ve started cutting back (I’m still a work in progress!). In my late 20s, as I started to find my feminist voice, I began to realize that “bitch” was no longer so easily articulated. It now makes me cringe. Fortunately, the “N word” has never crossed my lips.

PSA that lists a number of words that can replace the use of "retarded"

Is this political correctness run amuck? Why do activists care so much?

Derogatory language has the power to uphold inequality.  A lot of this language is either used by folks who are fully aware of the hurt behind it, or folks who are honestly unaware and have never stopped to consider the meaning of their words. Admittedly, the hold that language has over our brain makes it very difficult to eradicate many words, even when we are aware and want to change.  Fair enough.  However, when someone is presented with the reality of that hurt and the logic behind oppressive language, and they continue to dig their heels in, then we should find this problematic.  At this point, it is no longer about ignorance. It’s about privilege.

When I was visiting Scotland in 2012, my activist colleagues there had an ugly habit of calling any person they didn’t like a “twat.”  After about the 100th time of hearing it, I finally said something. I explained that they were using a crass word for my genitalia as an insult.  Basically being a female is lower; if they think something is bad, they insult it by calling it female.  As punishment for making this objection, I was dragged into a 20 minute debate. It was me, the female-identified visitor, pitted against two British adult men who were convinced if they just explained to me what the word “really means” and that it “really means” nothing at all, it’s just something they say all the time, it’s always been that way, etc., then I’ll suddenly give up and realize the word isn’t sexist. And after all, don’t we use “dick” as an insult?  The “men, too” argument is a common one that falsely imagines a post-gender utopia where men and women are represented equally and fairly.

Large bearded man, reads, "Excuse me miss, my eyes are up here"

In another example, an administrator for a Nonhuman Animal rights organization Vegans for Reason and Science adamantly defended the use of “stupid,” “insane,” “loons,” etc. as valid insults.  I asked if they would ever use “faggot” or “gay” as an insult, they said absolutely not, and they would call it out if they ever heard it.  I asked what was so different about using ableist language as slurs? Well, I was reading their words too literally, they explained.

The vulnerable groups in each situation may have varied, but there was one similarity between the people defending this language:  their privilege.  For the most part, I was up against men who were middle class, heterosexual, cis-gendered, non-disabled, and white-identified.  This is the demographic that is granted the ability to create language and define meaning. Power is manifested and replicated through the construction of meaning and the validation (or invalidation) of others’ existence and their social worth.

People with privilege should not get to decide what language is or is not hurtful to vulnerable people.  It shouldn’t matter how many gay friends or close female friends or sisters they have, or how long they’ve used the words, or how “figurative” they are meant to be.  If someone in a disadvantaged position says they hurt, stop using them. These words are a product of ongoing discrimination and violence. Even if we do not condone the political meaning of these words, we have a responsibility not to be an active participant in the oppression of others.

Avoid using the identity of oppressed groups as an insult.  There are about 171,000 words in the English Language; it won’t be a major inconvenience to retire a few.  I recognize that these words are habitualized and continuously reinforced by our peers and pop culture, but we can do better if we try.


Corey Lee WrennMs. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network and also operates The Academic Abolitionist Vegan. She is an instructor of Sociology and graduate student at Colorado State University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. In 2015, she was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory.