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Abstract

This paper proposes a postcolonial ecofeminist reading of Mi’kmaq legends as a basis for a veganism rooted in Aboriginal culture. Mi’kmaq legends portray animals as siblings to humanity. These legends offer an alternative to the colonial stewardship/domination model of human-animal relations. The development of an Aboriginal veganism is complicated by the gendered nature of food production and consumption in Mi’kmaq culture. Ecofeminist exegesis of Mi’kmaq legends provide us with an indigenous grounding for vegan practice while offering a critical standpoint on issues such as the indigenous fishing industry.
... To be clear, the fact that certain practices are more closely associated with a specific culture certainly does not mean that those situated outside of that culture cannot legitimately comment on such practices without being vulnerable to charges of ethnocentrism or cultural imperialism. Even the most traditional of cultural practices are not rendered, by virtue of their long histories alone, immune from critique or exempt from calls to adapt to new conditions (Robinson 2013). Particularly where such practices have already undergone large shifts in their scale and the manners in which they are carried out, advocating for a critical reevaluation of how production and consumption can be modified to mitigate public health risks is not only appropriate, but also imperative, as COVID-19 has aptly illustrated. ...
... Even though they do not always benefit from the spoils, food and agriculture is a vital source of livelihood for a significant proportion of people in many countries, especially those that are low-or middle-income. As a result, continued access to traditional and staple foods is arguably more important to those who are poor or otherwise marginalized, whereas wealthier classes have ready access to a wider range of options and cannot necessarily fall back on custom alone as a justification for adopting destructive dietary choices (Robinson 2013). This means that, in discussions about reforming food systems-whether in pursuit of better outcomes in terms of public health, environmental sustainability, or food security-social and economic variables should not be left out of the equation. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light significant failures and fragilities in our food, health, and market systems. Concomitantly, it has emphasized the urgent need for a critical re-evaluation of many of the policies and practices that have created the conditions in which viral pathogens can spread. However, there are many factors that are complicating this process; among others, the uncertain, rapidly evolving, and often poorly reported science surrounding the virus’ origins has contributed to a politically charged and often rancorous public debate, which is concerning insofar as the proliferation of divisive discourse may hinder efforts to address complex and collective concerns in a mutually cooperative manner. In developing ethical and effective responses to the disproportionate risks associated with certain food production and consumption practices, we argue that the focus should be on mitigating such risks wherever they arise, instead of seeking to ascribe blame to specific countries or cultures. To this end, this article is an effort to inject some nuance into contemporary conversations about COVID-19 and its broader implications, particularly when it comes to trade in wildlife, public health, and food systems reform. If COVID-19 is to represent a turning point towards building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient world for both humans and nonhuman animals alike, the kind of fractioning that is currently being exacerbated by the use of loaded terms such as “wet market” must be eschewed in favour of a greater recognition of our fundamental interconnectedness.
... To be clear, the fact that certain practices are more closely associated with a specific culture certainly does not mean that those situated outside of that culture cannot legitimately comment on such practices without being vulnerable to charges of ethnocentrism or cultural imperialism. Even the most traditional of cultural practices are not rendered, by virtue of their long histories alone, immune from critique or exempt from calls to adapt to new conditions (Robinson 2013). Particularly where such practices have already undergone large shifts in their scale and the manners in which they are carried out, advocating for a critical re-evaluation of how production and consumption can be modified to mitigate public health risks is not only appropriate, but also imperative, as COVID-19 has aptly illustrated. ...
... Even though they do not always benefit from the spoils, food and agriculture is a vital source of livelihood for a significant proportion of people in many countries, especially those that are low-or middle-income. As a result, continued access to traditional and staple foods is arguably more important to those who are poor or otherwise marginalized, whereas wealthier classes have ready access to a wider range of options and cannot necessarily fall back on custom alone as a justification for adopting destructive dietary choices (Robinson 2013). This means that, in discussions about reforming the food system-whether in pursuit of better outcomes in terms of public health, environmental sustainability, or food security-social and economic variables should not be left out of the equation. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light significant failures and fragilities in our food, health, and market systems. Concomitantly, it has emphasized the urgent need for a critical re-evaluation of many of the policies and practices that have created the conditions in which viral pathogens can spread. However, there are many factors that are complicating this process; among others, the uncertain, rapidly evolving, and often poorly reported science surrounding the virus' origins has contributed to a politically charged and often rancorous public debate, which is concerning insofar as the proliferation of divisive discourse may hinder efforts to address complex and collective concerns in a mutually cooperative manner. In developing ethical and effective responses to the disproportionate risks associated with certain food production and consumption practices, we argue that the focus should be on mitigating such risks wherever they arise, instead of seeking to ascribe blame to specific countries or cultures. To this end, this article is an effort to inject some nuance into contemporary conversations about COVID-19 and its broader implications, particularly when it comes to trade in wildlife, public health, and food systems reform. If COVID-19 is to represent a turning point towards building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient world for both humans and nonhuman animals alike, the kind of fractioning that is currently being exacerbated by the use of loaded terms such as “wet market” must be eschewed in favour of a greater recognition of our fundamental interconnectedness.
... 13 This shared personhood is reflected in traditional stories, in which human and animal life is portrayed as interchangeable, with humans becoming animals and animals becoming human. [36][37] For example, in "The Beaver Magicians and the Big Fish," a hunter meets an elderly man and his family, who invite him in, feed him, and send him home with a gift of moose meat. 38 Once home, the hunter discovers that the moose meat has transformed into the bark of a poplar tree-the favourite food of beavers. ...
... 39 This story embodies both the Mi'kmaq regret at animal death, the belief in animal sacrifice, and the belief Robinson 13 that dead animals somehow regenerate. [36][37] All of these elements can be brought forward into our interactions with in vitro meat. ...
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This speculative philosophical essay explores how the advent of in vitro meat might impact Mi’kmaq culture, particularly our understanding of animals as our relatives and our duties toward them in regard to cultural protocols of respect and gratitude. I argue that a Mi’kmaq perspective on cultured meat can be inferred from our philosophy and traditional stories, and from cultural protocols already in place for plants and medicines. I also explore how the Mi’kmaq relationship to the moose may be explored through our growing knowledge of epigenetics.
... Moreover, culture is not a uniform nor a static entity; on the contrary, cultures are constantly evolving in large part due to internal contestation. Within this context cultural natives are best positioned to lead change, and examples abound of folk doing so with regard to animal liberation (Gaard, 2001;Robinson, 2013). But while it is often not appropriate for outsiders to lead in affecting social change in foreign cultures, that does not negate the importance of maintaining one's ethical values and serving as allies to culturally native animal liberationists when in cultures foreign to one's own. ...
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