Vegaphobia: derogatory discourses of veganismand the reproduction of speciesism in UKnational newspapers
Matthew Cole and Karen Morgan
This paper critically examines discourses of veganism in UK national newspapersin 2007. In setting parameters for what can and cannot easily be discussed, domi-nant discourses also help frame understanding. Discourses relating to veganismare therefore presented as contravening commonsense, because they fall outsidereadily understood meat-eating discourses.Newspapers tend to discredit veganismthrough ridicule, or as being difﬁcult or impossible to maintain in practice.Vegansare variously stereotyped as ascetics, faddists, sentimentalists, or in some cases,hostile extremists. The overall effect is of a derogatory portrayal of vegans andveganism that we interpret as ‘vegaphobia’.We interpret derogatory discourses of veganism in UK national newspapers as evidence of the cultural reproductionof speciesism, through which veganism is dissociated from its connection withdebates concerning nonhuman animals’ rights or liberation.This is problematic inthree, interrelated, respects. First, it empirically misrepresents the experience of veganism, and thereby marginalizes vegans. Second, it perpetuates a moral injuryto omnivorous readers who are not presented with the opportunity to understandveganism and the challenge to speciesism that it contains. Third, and most seri-ously, it obscures and thereby reproduces exploitative and violent relationsbetween human and nonhuman animals.
Discourse; media; newspapers; nonhuman animals; speciesism;veganism
Human violence towards and exploitation of nonhuman animals is endemic in‘developed’ industrial societies, including the UK. For example, over 850million nonhuman land-dwelling animals are annually slaughtered for human
Cole (Open University) and Morgan (School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University) (Corresponding author email:firstname.lastname@example.org)© London School of Economics and Political Science 2011 ISSN 0007-1315 print/1468-4446 online.Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden,MA 02148, USA on behalf of the LSE. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-4446.2010.01348.x
The British Journal of Sociology 2011 Volume 62 Issue 1