A weekend full of pigs: However, all were absent referents

I have felt uncomfortable for some time with the mock vegan foods, This goes beyond the fact that it is apart of a niche market capitalistic driven money grabbing industry that paints veganism as an expensive and elitist ‘diet’. This is important, but for now I want to focus in on the problematic craving for animal-tasting food, the mock vegan foods that rely on flesh-eater terminology, meal plans. 

For example this weekend I went to a restaurant in Toronto called HogTown Vegan: Vegan Comfort Food. You can order for example: 

    Beer-battered tempeh “fish” served with fresh-cut fries and  house-made tartar sauce|
  • U N C H I C K E N & WA F F L E S  
    Our signature dish. Breaded, fried soy chicken on a fluffy corn  waffle, smothered in spiced syrup and served with a side of  sautéed garlic collard greens & sweet potato mash
    Shredded TVP in our house-made bbq sauce on a sesame seed  bun topped with creamy coleslaw.

The menu maintains that  “ALL OUR FOOD IS 100% PLANT-BASED–Meaning we don’t use any meat, dairy, eggs, honey or animal products of any sort”. 

But language is power. And what we are still eating is suppose to summon up images of the *real* thing. Especially at this restaurant it positions fish and chips, chicken, and pig sandwiches as comfort food. I ordered the mac & cheese precisely because it was a comfort food I missed, even though it is fastened in the oppression of female cows and their reproductive systems. Why do I still look at this obvious oppression food as comforting? Just because it is not actually exploiting feminized protein it is still carries the ontology. 

I really like this one Queer Vegan cookbook that states “this book has been nearly a year in the making, and features recipes that do not use animal products of any kind and are truly queer in an effort to expand the vegan culinary canon beyond traditional vegan cuisine, which tends to imitate the non-vegan food world (vegan ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, fake meat, mac n’ cheese, etc.)”. 

I think this is an important measure that needs to be taken to truly unsettle animal exploitation and constructing animals as ‘food’. I understand mock-vegan options are a great way to spark the interests of carnivores or vegetarians to the world of veganism in the most gentle fashion- but I see it as a step. A baby, initial step. 

What I am struggling with, is that the next day I went to the Kitchener-Waterloo Ribfest & Craftfest (read: virility festival). As most folks now, the Ribfest is the consumption of copious amounts of pigs with an assortment of sauces poured over them. Also- chickens have become important to this *food* festival. I was walking around at each obnoxious and nauseating “ribbers shack” stand and looking at all of their trophies for having the best sauce or best ribs or whatever. Of course the top of the trophies were smiley pigs. This iconography is also shared with HogTown Vegan. 

The Hogtown Vegan pig

The Hogtown Vegan pig


“When I was a young boy growing up, I noticed pigs always rolled over on their “LEFT” side to play in the mud. Soon I realized that this caused the ribs on the “LEFT” side to be tougher then the ribs on the “RIGHT” side.” “We only serve the ribs from the tender “RIGHT” side and we give all the tough “LEFT” side ribs to our competitors to serve.” Is this blatantly political?


Another thing to the ribfest that bothered me is a lot of the “ribbers shacks” also serve as charities for various charitable issues like food banks and diseases. How are people suppose to make the connection that the industrial slaughtering of animals is one of the biggest contributors to food shortage and health problems, when they position themselves as concerned with these issues. Talk about good public relations. 

This weekend was all about pigs. I also saw the most disturbing sweater at Black Market. It reminded me immediately of Carol J. Adams, and the critical gaze she has influenced so many of us feminist animal activists to look for.  

rib2It reads “Makin’ Bacon”. Both are obviously gendered to represent a heterosexual couple. He appears to be “fucking her brains out” which makes me think this is suggesting sexual assault. I tweeted this to Carol J. Adams and she added that bacon = sex with male dominant. 

I also should thrown in another picture from the Rib Fest to showcase that “sex sells”. Of course there would be an ad connecting the ‘rack of ribs’ to the ‘racks’ on a women’s body. 




About Stephanie

My name is Stephanie and this began as a blog for a course about Feminist Animal Liberation/Rights (toggling between the two) and my first steps into critical animal studies. The class is complete but I am going to keep this blog to continue the conversation and document future thoughts. I am a MSc student at Concordia University in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment where I study concepts such as: pest animals, environmental governance, biopolitics, urban spaces, domination, invasive species ..etc.. all within the frameworks of feminism (this encompassess a LOT), anarchist principles, post-colonial studies, critical animal studies, veganism, political palates/food accessibility and critical geography. I hope to one day also study animals in the tourist industry (a major interest of mine, that I am sidelining for the time being) such as the now-famous albino squirrels in Toronto. A little bit more about me, I co-habit with the most beautiful ginger lion named Burzum and elderbull Clementine, they both teach me daily. I am an animal liberationist and social justice activist, and plan to one day start a feminist collective/bookstore/resource/sanctuary for all beings/ space with my favourite person Sonmin.
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