Colonizer Carnism

That Better Be Vegan
13 min readJul 6, 2021

I want you to think about Manifest Destiny for a second. The idea that a whole continent is filled with new resources, foods, plants, discoveries just waiting for you, the European settler, to grasp out and take it. All you have to do is sail a terrifying weeks long journey to this new place and start taking all the free stuff for you there.

The problem:

The land was already occupied by a number of civilizations. So what did these rich colonizers do instead? Well, they simply created an explanation for why they HAD to take over the care of these lands and put them to use in the “correct” manner. I won’t go into specific myths used to degrade the native humans who lived on this continent here, but you can read about them in several sources such as this one.

Colonization is not unique to the American continents, of course.

source: wikipedia
source: wikipedia

In all these regions, humans had already been living for hundreds if not thousands of years. Yet when you look at modern maps today, you hardly see a trace of the 5–15 million indigenous people who were thriving in the americas prior to colonization.

source: google maps

Colonizer state names. Colonizer Country names. Words stolen from the mouths of natives and used to name colonizer streets, schools, and land that was taken with violence. Colonizers steal the the land, make it their own, and they even steal your words to do it. By 1900 less than a quarter million of native populations are left alive in North America.

Here’s a map of the Americas from 1794:

source: wikipedia

This map also conveniently leaves out the millions of natives, but i think it’s helpful to illustrate how many countries were involved with the colonization of the americas, and how the colonizers fought amongst themselves AND the natives to get access to the land and her resources.

The myth of manifest destiny allowed for sanctioned warfare. Countries used colonization to further their imperialism. And by countries, let me clear. I am talking about what is essentially the profit-seeking capitalist system. This extends all the way to literal monarch backed slave traders. These places were not colonized for benign reasons.

These places were colonized by Europeans solely for resource extraction, the profit of those who are rich enough to benefit from such expensive ventures. Profit seeking imperialists continue to repeat the same pattern:

  1. Find a resource (in this case land)
  2. Attain Resource (in this case via mass violence and subjugation)
  3. Maximize Profit from Resource (in this case selling the products of the americas to rich europeans while using slave labor)

At no point are morals, the environmental impact, worker health or rights, or cultural impacts seriously considered. What happens is a sacred river is polluted and sacred trees are cut down to make the cheapest possible paper. Lands that were carefully cultivated by indigenous hands by thousands of years die out due to mismanagement and greed of the colonizers who stole them.

And that brings us to colonizer carnism. Going back to the Find-Attain-Maximize, you can see that’s exactly what has happened to colonist animal agriculture.

  1. Found — a means of production that they can easily control
  2. Attained — Huge areas of land to hold the animals, plants for the animals to eat, and the hundreds of millions of animals themselves
  3. Maximized Profit — by getting subsidies, mass lobbying and propaganda.

The third step — Maximized profit — is what sets this carnism as distinctly capitalist colonialist. And let me be clear on an economic point — even if the profit margin is low, in order to profit at all you must be engaging in exploitation. The profit of grocery stores is notoriously razor thin at many grocery stores, yet somehow the CEO of these places make over a hundred times in hourly wages than a cashier does. Even if a corporation does not use literally every method to maximize profit, they are still maximizing profit as much as they think they are able. And at the end of the day, the executives and shareholders will be profiting off the labor of workers who still have to struggle to pay for groceries at the store they work at.

Anyone who hands money to a corporation that kills animal for profit is supporting colonizer carnists. It doesn’t matter if the dead animal had green space before they were killed at a fraction of their age, they were forcefully bred and killed by workers that rich capitalists bribed with money. These workers have an abysmally high rate of injury and trauma while the corporations are still profiting immensely while overlooking or outright downplaying any environmental damage. Workers at industrial factory farms are routinely inhaling hazardous levels of dangerous environmental toxins. Even worse, as you can imagine, slaughterhouse work is not a desirable job, which means that in order to really maximize profit, they can’t pay people more. Luckily, capitalism is great at making people so desperate they’d do anything for a crumb of food, so all they have to do is hire those people and apply oppression and fear.

Like other divisions of agriculture, slaughterhouse and “meat”-processing workers are predominantly black and brown people living in low-income communities. Historically, a significant percentage of the workforce has been African American. In recent decades, an influx of Latin American workers has been seen across the country, partially due to active recruiting by the corporations. Today, approximately 38% of slaughterhouse and “meat”-processing workers were born outside of the U.S.

There’s an unknown number of undocumented workers, which means they have essentially no labor protection.

Most workers are “at-will” employees, meaning they can be easily fired at a supervisor’s discretion. The threat of termination discourages workers from reporting safety concerns, injuries, or other serious issues. Supervisors use a variety of intimidation tactics to suppress workers’ concerns and make it clear that other people are always available to replace them. As a result, workers are conditioned to accept a hazardous and demeaning work environment if they want to remain employed.

It’s because of these workers that someone is able to pick up a packaged tray of dead animal at their grocery store instead of having to see and hear the animal’s messy death before engaging in the consumption of their body parts. The industrial mass killing of animals and subsidizing them via max taxation so they are cheap enough for the carnist to consume multiple times a day is a capitalist colonizer invention.

Let’s get back to indigenous oppression. Starvation and controlling of nutritional sources has been a colonizer tool of oppression for a long time. In this way, colonizer carnists actually take aim at indigenous carnism. Of course, they have no concern for the innocent animals or their welfare, as vegans might. They aren’t even concerned about the environmental impact, because the colonizer carnist is light years worse. They can’t even argue that animal deaths in industrial slaughterhouses are more humane and painless.

Instead indigenous carnism is treated as a petty concern compared to colonizer carnism, even when some tribes have deeply spiritual connections to their animal consumption. Definitely far more spiritual than colonizer carnists feel about their “chicky tendies” they get from a fast food megacorporation. Carnists who bring up indigenous people’s rights will suddenly ignore that colonizer animal agriculture is something many indigenous tribes are deeply negatively impacted by. Suddenly the carnist becomes a nihilist when it comes to their actions and the rights of indigenous people.

Bison (Bison bison), or as commonly referred to by Tribal people “buffalo”, has always held great meaning for the American Indian people. Buffalo represent their spirit and remind them of how their lives were once lived, free and in harmony with nature. In the 1800’s, the white-man recognized the reliance Indian tribes had on the buffalo. Thus began the systematic destruction of buffalo as a means to subjugate western Tribal nations. The slaughter of over 60 million buffalo left only a few thousand buffalo remaining in the world.

Without buffalo, the independent life of Tribal people could no longer be maintained. The Indian spirit, along with that of the buffalo, suffered an enormous loss. At that time, tribes began to sign treaties with the US government in an attempt to protect the land and the buffalo for their future generations. The destruction of the buffalo herds, and the associated devastation to the tribes, disrupted the self-sufficient lifestyle of Tribal people more than all other federal policies to date.

Source, Intertribal Buffalo Council.

This source is from a group of nearly 70 tribes who are attempting to restore buffalo herds to their native lands. Some of these tribes use the buffalo in a carnist manner, harvesting their bodies for their own use and even selling them to a paying consumer. However, the main goal is not to extract or exploit profit like the capitalist colonizer is:

To reestablish healthy buffalo populations on tribal lands is to reestablish hope for Indian people. Members of the InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) understood that reintroduction of the buffalo to tribal lands will help heal the spirit of both the Indian people and the buffalo.

Although some tribes and tribal members had engaged in production of buffalo for sale and/or for subsistence and cultural use, these activities were conducted by each individual tribe, with little or no collaboration between tribes.

Let’s contrast that with the Colonizer National Bison Association:

The NBA is a non-profit association of producers, processors, marketers and bison enthusiasts.

While the indigenous run InterTribal Buffalo Council have taken years to get just 20,000 buffalo back to their native lands (spread over the entire country), the colonizer National Bison Association estimates that there are 183,000 buffalo on private ranches and that 70,000 buffalo were ‘harvested’ in 2020 alone for their bodies. If the colonizers abstained from “harvesting” these buffalo for a few years, they could easily populate the native reservations with as many buffalo as the tribal members requested. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead the buffalo are being killed and sold for their bodies at just 20 months old when their natural lifespan is 20 years.

Colonizers are not so lacking in healthy food sources that they need to continue eating farmed buffalo. Buffalo is generally not even cheaper or more available than other farmed animal products, which means there is no reason for most people to consume them other than for novelty. Over 60 tribes want the buffalo -the-animal back, while the colonizer carnist mindlessly consumes buffalo-the-dead-object for novelty.

In fact, the colonizer run National Bison Association even went so far as to receive $17 million in relief from the USDA during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were rejected twice before their lobbyists finally got the money. While many other organizations, including indigenous ones, also received aid, That materially did nothing to stop the COVID-19 pandemic from ripping through the indigenous communities as a disproportionate rate.

More than one in five COVID-related deaths involved Native Americans (23.0%), versus 73.5% involving White people.

This is despite only 6.7% (a bit more than 1 in 20) of the population in Montana being in the Native American group according to the census.

But that’s not a huge surprise, considering that indigenous people generally also bear the brunt of high poverty as well. The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota has the lowest life expectancy in the entire Country. Personally I’d rather have the 17 million that was earmarked for colonizer buffalo farmers went there instead.

Aside from doing successfully colonizing respected animals for profit, colonizers have even stolen indigenous beliefs about animal consumption despite their methods being completely different. These colonizers believe terrified animals in factory farms “choose” to be there despite the animals never being free at any point. The animals are born, force-bred, transported, and finally die in different forms of imprisonment. Birds whose feet have never touched the ground. Cows who scream when their children are taken from them so the capitalist colonizer can profiteer can take their milk. Pigs who nuzzle against the slaughterhouse workers who later scream and cry in fear.

In order to fully maximize profit, the capitalist must engage in mass lobbying and propaganda. This is how common myths like milk being good for your bones are created and propagated (milk is actually detrimental to bones). Animal agriculture corporations have been caught downplaying how their exploitation of animals is contributing to climate change.

the analysis finds that all 10 of the top agriculture companies in the U.S. have contributed to efforts to downplay how agribusiness is linked to climate change.

Another thing the capitalist propaganda has successfully sold to people is that that by bringing up a criticism you are doing something worse than the abhorrent act itself. So let’s be clear now. To compare veganism to colonialism while we are actively finding hundreds of children’s bodies under colonialist “schools” is extremely disrespectful and disgusting. To compare asking someone to consider the ethics of ending an animal’s life is not the same as mass killing children or other horrors of colonialism.

In fact, there is no way to force another person to be vegan, as it requires ethical contemplation. Even my most convincing essay could not “force” anybody to actually become vegan. They themselves must choose to and consider how far as practicable and possible means for them. They must keep deciding to be vegan every day after that. The most a colonizer could do is take away a native food source and force the tribal members to eat something else instead. But this is exactly what’s happening to the tribes that formerly relied on fishing. Colonizers built dams to steal water for their own animals to eat and now they’re overfishing the oceans, forcing tribes to find alternate forms of food. Carnist colonizers not only are constantly destroying native land for their own selfish tastes, they are blaming vegans — an estimated 2% of the population — for it!

There is also the colonizer belief that the animals they are consuming “gave up their life” despite the animals frequently trying to escape and clearly being happier in animal sanctuaries. The colonizer then claims that the animal was respected because their vivisected and dissected body was completely used instead of “going to waste”. However, animal agriculture produces so much excess waste that they care one of the primary contributors to creating dead zones in areas that were formerly teeming with life.

And what material impact does this have?Let’s look at this Chesapeake Bay webpage.

Countless Native American tribes lived off the land from Virginia to New York. In the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, as many as 30 separate Algonquian-speaking tribes called the area home (including our Chesapeake Oyster Alliance partners, the Nansemond Tribe).

Even if you don’t believe dead zones are solely caused by animal agriculture, you can’t deny the material fact that colonizer pollution and exploitation has repeatedly destroyed places full of life that many indigenous tribes relied on.

source: wikipedia

Countless tribes can no longer live off their ancestral land the way they were doing for hundreds if not thousands of years, thanks to colonizers. To say there is “no waste” involved in this type animal profiteering is to erase a violent history of colonization, and of course, to deny an animal’s value as a living being.

But let’s move on to more modern history. Aside from colonist carnists destroying indigenous lakes and forests for animals, surely it’s not a problem anymore that the system is set up right? Well no, because people keep wanting more and more. Meat consumption keeps rising more and more every year, and it’s highest in the united states. Despite the UN literally calling for everyone to eat less meat for environmental reasons, colonizer nations keep topping the meat consumption lists.

But let’s get back to fish.

Last year, global fish consumption hit a record high of 17 kg (37 pounds) per person per year, even though global fish stocks have continued to decline. On average, people eat four times as much fish now than they did in 1950.

Around 85% of global fish stocks are over-exploited, depleted, fully exploited or in recovery from exploitation.

Catches in the tropics are expected to decline a further 40% by 2050, and yet some 400 million people in Africa and Southeast Asia rely on fish caught (mainly through artisanal fishing) to provide their protein and minerals. With climate change expected to impact agricultural production, people are going to rely more than ever on fish for their nutritional needs.

And who is going to be hit first from global climate change? The global poor and indigenous people. Straight from the UN:

Indigenous peoples are among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change, due to their dependence upon, and close relationship, with the environment and its resources. Climate change exacerbates the difficulties already faced by indigenous communities including political and economic marginalization, loss of land and resources, human rights violations, discrimination and unemployment.

Turns out that’s already happening. What are these indigenous people supposed to do when climate change ramps up? If you’ve been relying on fishing in your native seas, what do you do when industrial fishing operations empty your seas? What do you do when you’re the target of this imperialist colonization?

Turns out, a lot of indigenous people simply choose to end their own lives.

The rate of suicide within the indigenous Guarani Kaiowá people of Brazil is 34 times the country’s national average and statistically the highest among any society anywhere in the world, according to a new report by Survival International.

The main reason given for the group’s high rate of self-inflicted deaths is attributed to the loss of their ancestral lands.

Please take climate change and ancestral loss of land and resources as seriously as your indigenous comrades are. Materially, if you want to practice full solidarity to the indigenous people who rely on fishing, you should stop eating fish. And just so, if you scientifically and materially want to do the most you can for climate change, and the indigenous people who are going to be hit first and hardest, you should join in solidarity and stop financially supporting colonialist carnism.