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The Vegan Matrix: Understanding and Discussing Privilege Among Vegans to Build a More Inclusive and Empowered Movement

The Vegan Matrix: Understanding and Discussing Privilege Among Vegans to Build a More Inclusive and Empowered Movement

by Melanie Joy PhD


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A short guidebook to understanding and discussing privilege among vegans and vegan organizations in the wake of #metoo, including how to establish accountability while honoring dignity and ways to communicate effectively.

In The Vegan Matrix, psychologist, longtime vegan advocate, and organizational head Dr. Melanie Joy explores a serious problem in the vegan movement—unexamined privilege—and looks at the struggle to communicate effectively about this problem in a way that helps offset it. Using simple, straightforward language and a compassionate tone, Joy explains what privilege is, why it’s so important for vegans to become aware of it, and how to talk about it in a way that deepens understanding and helps transform it. In so doing, Joy unpacks some of the many privileges that must be acknowledged and addressed, and shows how more inclusivity and diversity within vegan organizations will benefit the movement as a whole. The Vegan Matrix is a call to awareness and action, empowering vegans to reach a broader audience and to help create a more compassionate and just world.

“Building on her seminal work with carnism and powerarchy, in The Vegan Matrix Melanie Joy offers another vital treatise that provides crucial guidance for vegan advocates, especially those of us who are privileged. If we truly hope to end oppression, we need to better understand systemic inequity, abuses of power, and embedded traumas experienced by those who are disenfranchised. This cogent book encourages humility, learning, and the radical empathy necessary for healing and for helping to build a powerful vegan movement.”—Gene Baur, Cofounder and President of Farm Sanctuary and bestselling author of Farm Sanctuary and Living the Farm Sanctuary Life

“The Vegan Matrix offers the ultimate blueprint to empower the vegan movement to become truly inclusive and unified so that we may live up to our core values of universal compassion and respect. This is the big leap on our journey to a vegan world. Every vegan needs to take a deep dive into Melanie Joy’s extraordinary work.”—Jane Velez-Mitchell, Founder of JaneUnchained News Network

“Rather than entrench divisions, Melanie Joy aims to create a stronger movement, literate in the issues of privilege and empowered to create change. Everyone looking to transform the world for the better should read this book.”—Leah Garcés, President of Mercy for Animals

“This book is a must-read for everyone in the vegan movement and beyond. It has not only helped me question my relationship with my privilege but also opened my eyes to the destructiveness that powerarchy is having on our movement and therefore on our cause: reducing the suffering of animals. The Vegan Matrix is a wonderful tool to support us in becoming more effective activists, while at the same time being more compassionate with each other and more unified as a movement.”—Ria Rehberg, CEO of Veganuary

“This is a very timely, challenging and convincing book, asking us to deepen and expand our thinking so that we are more effective in our efforts to create a vegan and more compassionate world.”—Tobias Leenaert, author of How to Create a Vegan World

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590566176
Publisher: Lantern Publishing & Media
Publication date: 09/22/2020
Pages: 118
Sales rank: 1,153,645
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Melanie Joy, PhD is a psychologist, international speaker, and longtime vegan and social justice advocate. She is the award-winning author of six books, including Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism; Beyond Beliefs: A Guide to Improving Relationships and Communication for Vegans, Vegetarians, and Meat Eaters; Powerarchy: Understanding the Psychology of Oppression for Social Transformation; and Getting Relationships Right. Joy taught courses on privilege and oppression at the University of Massachusetts, Boston for over a decade, and she is the eighth recipient of the Ahimsa Award—previously given to the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela—for her work on global nonviolence. Her work has been featured in major media outlets around the world, and she is the founding president of Beyond Carnism. You can learn more about her at

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword David Coman-Hidy xi

Introduction 1

1 Privilege 101: The Nature of Privilege and the Harm It Can Cause 15

2 Privilege 201: The Consequences of Unexamined Privilege on Others, Ourselves, and Our Movement 35

3 Inclusivity Is Strategic: Why We Don't Have to Choose between Being Inclusive and Being Effective 51

4 Becoming an Ally: How to Become a Part of the Solution When You're Privileged 59

5 Creating Allies: Communication Strategies for Challenging Privilege 75

Afterword Christopher Sebastian 91

Recommended Resources 95

About the Author

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