What white vegans must understand about Nigeria and dog meat
by Ana Hurwitz (Guest Writer)
[Disclaimer: As a white Jewish vegan, the author, Ana Hurwitz, intends this as an open letter to white vegans. Black revolutionaries often advise white people to organize our own communities against white supremacy. So this is a call to the collectivity of white vegans for us all to do better.
While i am not a Black identified person, i wish to acknowledge how Jewish histories of displacement by state persecution should make the fight for Black liberation feel deeply personal for us. Whether a Jew or gentile of conscience, every white vegan should be an aspiring co-conspirator in the global #BlackLivesMatter movement.]
“No sympathy here.” “Karma!” “They get what they deserve.” “Let’s hope the Chinese are next.”
This was the reaction of many white vegans to news of over thirty Nigerians having died from dog meat consumption. Yet white vegans must understand that all present day social conditions throughout Africa.trace material origins to the same European colonial states who introduced factory farming to the world.
So how has European colonization shaped the modern dog meat market in Nigeria?
Nigeria is the most food insecure nation in West Africa, with 12 million hungry people. The kind of hunger that steals lives, exactly one every three seconds, not the kind Europeans have after missing a few meals.
Why is Nigeria hungry? Nigeria won independence from British colonization in 1960 after having been under military occupation since the 1885 Berlin Conference, where European powers bestowed protectorate status onto British merchants in Nigeria.
Britain is not only Nigeria’s former colonizer but it is also the birthplace of factory farming. Beginning in the post-World War II era, factory farming became convention on Turtle Island (“North America”). Since the 1960s the US consumes more meat than any other nation in the world, today raising ten billion land animals for “food” every year. Annual US meat sales total $864 billion; and the immense profitability of factory farming has caused American capitalists to import intensive animal agriculture to the third world.
Western imported animal agriculture has been a colonizing force throughout Africa. From environmental standards, to workers rights, to human health. Meat production is globalizing and only anticipated to double over the next two decades, with poorer third world countries such as those in Africa becoming the primary global exporters.
As animal agriculture grows in African nations, so too does hunger grow. Nearly one million Nigerian children face hunger as a result of food insecurity. Already hungry nations like Nigeria fight to maintain food security as small farmers are forced off their land by Western corporations who steal land and grain to feed factory farmed animals. Even if one does not believe animals are friends not food, these capitalists starve the people by stealing land, water, and grain to raise animals for food instead of actually fighting hunger by feeding people with plants.
Western factory farming has also brought widespread disease to West Africa and this is what has lead specifically to the growth of the dog meat market. Dog meat has been advertised by Nigerian media as being a ‘healthy alternative’ to other meats. The meat of factory farmed animals has been linked to antibiotic-immune diseases and caused an increase of food-related illnesses due to bacterias which cause indigestion, typhoid fever, and skin infections.
Given this reality and the 2014 spread of ebola virus from the meat of West African wildlife, dog meat has become the new normal But neighboring countries such as Liberia and Cameroon have reported correlations between dog meat and ebola. These are the very real social conditions of third world nations after centuries of European-imposed starvation.
Meanwhile a significant number of white vegans often feign moral superiority by claiming dog meat consumed in African and Eastern cultures is somehow less compassionate of a food choice than the cows and pigs cooked at American summer barbeques. And that the cultures who eat dog meat are less civilized than Westerners and therefore deserving of deadly “karma.” It’s almost always a karma leveled at non-white people, from Nepal to China to Nigeria, the people most characterized as savage under white supremacy.
While celebrating deaths in the third world as karma (also the disproportionate incarceration in the U.S. of African Americans and Latinxs convicted of animal abuse) white vegans on social media continue to use #AllLivesMatter to recenter white supremacy in ongoing dialogue about the state of political emergency facing Black people.
If so many white vegans honestly believe “all lives matter”, then what about the lives of African people?
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Ana Hurwitz is an organizer with Direct Action Everywhere and volunteer with Food Not Bombs in Portland, Oregon. She is a Jewish white and visually disabled transgender woman, She graduated from CSU Fullerton in 2008, studying Art and Sociology. She has been active with various revolutionary organizations, including the International Socialist Organization and Portland Central America Solidarity Committee. Formerly she was an organizer with an animal liberation group in Portland, activist with Rising Tide and for housing justice, contributor to Sister Species Solidarity, and an anti-domestic violence and sex worker advocate.