Veganism has transformed my life in endless ways beyond the eschewing of animal exploitation. Although there is no guarantee veganism will cure someone of their selfish and exploitative ways, as often proven in the Animal Rights community that is rife with racism and sexism, for many of us, it’s only the rebirth of our compassionate, more awake selves. What starts off as a concern for our animal kingdom brethren quickly gets our empath tendencies into overdrive – well, not necessarily in overdrive, more like where they should have been all along before we lost them somewhere along the way. Even those of us that always considered ourselves to be fair and kind people, suddenly injustices that we have once overlooked, or have been shielded from by society for those of us privileged enough by unfair societal standards, are now flashing neon signs too difficult to justify away. For me, veganism has been the missing piece to the social justice puzzle. And most simply put, I can no longer separate my feminism from veganism:
I cannot expect body autonomy without granting and working hard to protect it for everyone – regardless of gender identification and species.
I cannot expect and demand not to be treated like an object for the pleasure and use of someone else while treating someone else as a commodity.
I cannot fight for the normalization of breastfeeding and a person’s right to do so when and where they please – while not calling out those same people for stealing another mother’s breast milk intended for her calf.
The way women have been degraded to a “piece of meat” while society is simultaneously sexualizing “meat” with “juicy thighs”, “tender breasts” often with cartoon animals often marketing such products in sexually tantalizing ways has been going on for decades. Carol J. Adams covers this much more eloquently than I ever could in the 1990 classic The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical . So you can maybe understand why seeing fellow feminists beat on their chests talking about their right to someone else’s body, eggs, and breast milk, and nobody will take away their cheese and ice cream on Vegan-related posts over on sites like Everyday Feminism gets my dander up. It sounds like all too familiar oppression and exploitation that others face strictly for being born different, not less than, but different than the oppressor. Things look a little differently when one can no longer relate to the victim, apparently. On the flip side, my heart grows about 3 sizes when I see other social justice advocates making the connection and seeing how all of our systems of oppression intersect and find their way to veganism as an extension of their social justice work.
This brings to me to just over a week ago when we were taking our road trip to New England and unwilling to settle for peanuts from rest stop vending machine, I searched for some vegan-friendly gems along the way and came across Bloodroot in Connecticut, about 20 minutes off of our route – a small price to pay for a good meal and supporting a small business. Bloodroot is a self-proclaimed Feminist Restaurant and Bookstore – completely vegetarian with many vegan options. While I often find myself most frustrated by Feminist Vegetarians because eating someones eggs, stealing breast milk which is as a product of forced insemination and stolen babies, feel like something a feminist could not in good conscious subject anyone to – being on the road we have to pick our battles. Did they have vegan food? Yes. And we headed their way for sustenance.
Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to learn Bloodroot, which was still decorated from celebrating their 39th year Anniversary, quite a feat for any restaurant let alone a Feminist Vegetarian one, was making their way to veganism and have been making their own vegan cheese and ice cream. I talked briefly with co-Founder, Selma, who is now in her Golden Years making the transition to veganism all the more delightful. She proudly showed me the previous night’s dinner menu which was 100% vegan, she came to make sure we enjoyed the ice cream sundaes made by her hard working and dedicated hands and shared how their famous house-made Bloodroot burgers are available frozen to make at home. If we weren’t only a few hours into our week-long trip, I would have walked away with a couple boxes.
The ambiance was dreamy – with books to your left as you come in and the cafe to the right, it was a pleasant mix of rustic and vintage with the feel of being in a loved family member’s home. You knew you were somewhere legendary and in for a good home cooked meal. You are greeted by the sleepy resident cat as you read over the menu of the day hanging on small blackboards above a window to the kitchen. You place your order at a receptionists desk and your order is handwritten for you to carry over to the kitchen window to hand to the chefs and staff. Your bill is totaled by calculator with no register in sight, never one with cash, I was relieved to see a credit card processing machine.
They call your name when your food is ready for you to retrieve from the kitchen window. This isn’t a place for hurried meals, it’s one to take your time, enjoy the water view through the windows or dine outside on the patio on warmer and less grey days than we were experiencing. You savor the soup, laugh between bites of your burger, and save room for dessert. And when you’re done, you bus your own table. Although we spent a pretty penny for 2 soups, 3 burgers, and 3 desserts, more so than we would normally for our typical meals, it was money well spent.
I’m most happy to learn that this gem is not too far out of the way to my sister’s house in Connecticut. I’ll make a point to stop in and support Selma’s hard work at Bloodroot and their transition to veganism as often as I can.