07 December 2003

Angus Taylor on the Feminist Critique of Vegetarianism

The idea that feminists should advocate vegetarianism has been challenged by Kathryn Paxton George. . . . George maintains that arguments for universal vegetarianism, particularly in its vegan form (that is, a meatless diet without eggs or dairy products), tacitly assume male physiology to be the human norm. She claims that requiring girls and women to be strict vegetarians would typically mean imposing an inadequate diet on them, given the specific nutritional requirements of human females. There are also many males for whom a strict vegetarian diet is unsuitable, says George. Strict vegetarianism is a viable ideal only for well-off adult males (and for healthy, well-off, younger adult females who do not bear children) living in technologically advanced societies. It is normally only this minority who have the physiological capacity, the education, and the access to the necessary food sources (including vitamin and mineral supplements) to lead healthy lives on a strict vegetarian diet.

(Angus Taylor, Animals and Ethics: An Overview of the Philosophical Debate [Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2003], 104 [citing Kathryn Paxton George, Animal, Vegetable, or Woman? A Feminist Critique of Ethical Vegetarianism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000)])