Vegan Julia Feliz Brueck is possibly best known for editing Veganism in an Oppressive World: A Vegans-of-Color Community Project, a collection of academic essays, personal reflections and poetry with important messages about how to expand the current nonhuman animal rights movement to be more inclusive and consistent.
She has been a vegan for animal rights for 10 years and has also written other books such as Libby Finds Vegan Sanctuary.
I caught up with her about her writing, activism and Veganism in an Oppressive World.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I am passionate about a wide variety of issues, and I have been writing about them for as long as I started waking up to what my role should be in order to find justice for nonhumans and humans.
My goal is to keep raising the voices of nonhumans and to use whatever privileges I have to raise the voices of those that do not have a platform.
Which writers inspire you?
Every day activists that take the time to engage people across the globe in an effort to plant seeds and create awareness inspire me and remind me that silence is not an option, as this would mean to take the side of the oppressors.
How did you come up with the idea for Veganism in an Oppressive World?
Honestly, it was frustration.
Frustration stemming from the inability of white vegans to understand the oppression of people of color, and thus, embracing a movement that is unsafe and unwelcoming since oppression (ie. racism, xenophobia, etc. follow people of color regardless of their being vegan or not).
An odd response that I am exposed to often from vegans that do not understand how oppression plays a role in vegan activism and vegan spaces is to proclaim that nonhuman animals do not see color, and therefore, race isn’t an issue within veganism. However, this does not make any sense since nonhumans rely on humans to take on their cause and raise their voices.
Unfortunately, we all carry implicit biases that affect how we view Black and Brown people even if we do not mean to view them in those terms due to the systemic oppression that has existed since the time of colonialism.
Thus, with the book, I wanted to create a guide to raise the voices of communities of color and help mainstream veganism understand what it would take to truly choose to embrace a movement would truly help advance the cause of nonhuman animals.
The majority of people on the planet are people of color, and ironically, they are the least represented in the animal rights/vegan movement. Therefore, how would it be possible for veganism to cross into other communities without understanding how different communities experience the world, veganism, and even access to it?
Can you tell us more about it?
The book became a collaboration between vegans of color willing to tell their stories and guide mainstream veganism step-by-step on how to successfully help to spread veganism on behalf of nonhuman animals.
We achieved this through discussions, prose, short reflections, and essays written by voices from around the world.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about?
The cover was made by Canadian-based artist and vegan of color, Meneka Repka.
It was important to illustrate the interconnections between oppression of nonhumans and humans. Thus, the imagery resulted in a very raw yet true representation of what that means for vegans of color and the current face of mainstream veganism.
What surprised you the most about working on the book?
I was surprised with how much I, myself, learned from each and every single contributor that lend their voice to the project.
It was a reminder that we must stay humble and recognize that despite our best intentions and passion to help nonhumans, supporting them sometimes means stopping to listen to other human groups in an effort to help make veganism actually accessible.
What did you like the most about collaborating with so many others for the book?
I truly appreciated the different styles from every author and the messages that they each had about their communities and vegan journeys.
These experiences are all important, yet they are often left out when discussing 'why' and 'what' vegan.
What do you aim to accomplish with the book?
I hope the book helps vegans understand that our activism must be consistent in its anti-oppression stance.
This book is a clear and concise guide for anyone that truly wants to understand the true path towards helping veganism evolve into a movement that is aware and effective.
What book/s are you reading right now?
I am currently reading, The Dreaded Comparison by Marjorie Spiegel, which will be followed by Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation by Sunaura Taylor.
I am currently interested in learning as much as I can about the interconnections between other social justice movements and veganism, as well as learning from communities outside of my own to ensure that I know how to best raise their voices in our fight for collective liberation.