A woman holds a banner at a pro-choice rally Reproductive rights have taken a massive hit in America - Media Credit: Bob Daemmrich/Alamy Live News

Opinion: A Vegan World Is A Pro-Choice World

A society that does not believe that women or people with uteruses are equal will never believe that animals are equal, writes Jennifer Stojkovic

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6 Minutes Read

One week ago, the fight for women’s rights, and all who can become pregnant, took a crucial blow in America. The Supreme Court reversed the nearly-fifty-year precedent of Roe v. Wade, a 1973 court case that mandated abortion access across all fifty states.

This effectively wiped out reproductive rights for nearly half of the United States population. The case, which has torn apart the fundamentals of what it means to be an autonomous human being, will have lasting effects on the fight for all rights, including animal rights.

Becoming pro-choice

Like most of you, I was not born a vegan. But I was born with a reproductive system capable of pregnancy.

At a young age, I became acutely aware of what it means to operate in a world where your entire life, and body, can be changed at any moment by a pregnancy, regardless of whether it was a wanted or unwanted experience. I carried this fear with me through my teenage years and early years of adulthood, eventually volunteering at Planned Parenthood, working the phone system for teenagers in crisis.

It was during that time that the unthinkable situation hit me. At age 20, I became pregnant. There I was, halfway through university, a reproductive health advocate and mentor to young people, and pregnant myself.

A person holds protest signs that say 'keep abortion legal' and 'their body their choice'
Adobe Stock The overturning of Roe v. Wade sparked protests across the US.


As a child of modest, hard-working parents with no high school education, their only dream was for me to graduate university. But suddenly, my entire life plan was thrown into the air. I knew right then and there that this was not my intended life journey. This was not the way to achieve my planned impact on the world. There was only one solution right for me: to choose not to continue with my pregnancy.

Not long after that decision, I started my early career in public charity at United Way. I oversaw more than three dozen education and health programs across an extensive footprint of predominantly rural or Black communities in the Southern United States. What I saw during my three-year tenure forever changed my view of what it means to be a marginalized woman in America.

A core-shaking realization

On a weekly basis, we’d serve teenage girls, some not even in high school, experiencing pregnancies. They had no understanding of their basic reproductive anatomy, because, despite being the third-largest state in America, the state we operated in has no mandated sexual education curriculum. Many fell pregnant from older men in the community, while some were encouraged to become mothers by their elders—often former teenage parents themselves—who felt they had no higher prospects in life.

One particular woman, whom I will never forget, came in early one morning to apply for our holiday toy drive. She handed me five birth certificates from her children, each with a different father listed. Looking at her application, I was shocked to see that she was only 19 years old and had birthed her first child in elementary school.

Then, she looked at me and asked if I could fill in the application for her because she did not know how to read or write—including her own children’s names. At that moment, I felt my core shake.

This woman was not free. She had been trapped in circumstances out of her own control since the day she was born. She had been exploited for her fast-maturing body, only to be left in a system that did not care for her nor her five fatherless children, simply because she happened to be a woman. Her story is only one of the millions of women in similar circumstances across America and beyond.

The treatment of animals

It was not until a few years later, when I went vegan, that I felt that same core-shaking rage.

Most of us have gone through the stages of grief, disbelief, and anger that face us when we learn the horrors of factory farming and the treatment of billions of animals on the planet. But what stood out to me was the treatment of female animals in our agricultural system.

Mother pigs are trapped in gestation crates where they are unable to stand up, as they are used to breed countless piglets destined for slaughter. Cage-laying hens are forced to produce our eggs in despicable conditions, before being declared as ‘spent’ and slaughtered when their reproductive system no longer meets our consumer needs.

Then, of course, there is the dairy industry, which forcibly impregnates female cows repeatedly. They cry for their stolen calves and are then used for their milk production. That’s until they, too, are rendered ‘insufficient’ and sent to slaughter at four or five years of age (the natural lifespan of a cow is nearly 20 years).

Like most people, it took time for me to grapple with the reality that the treatment of female animals could be real in an advanced society like ours. But it is.

By rolling back reproductive freedom in the United States, we are taking away the most basic right for us to choose our own destiny. The precedent set by determining that human beings do not have the right to their own body only perpetuates a reality where animals are not given their right to life.

A society that does not believe that women or people with uteruses are equal will never believe that animals are equal.

Holding women back from changing the food system

Removing the right to reproductive freedom will also hold back women in their work to create a better food system.

As I write about in my book “The Future of Food is Female,” our best chance at reinventing the food system and transitioning away from industrial animal agriculture is to empower women leaders, specifically founders.

But the reality is that women founders already face countless barriers. These range from receiving less than 3 percent of total investment from venture capitalists to gender bias and discrimination. While about half of the founders I work with are thriving as mothers and founders, many have chosen not to become a mother – the key word is “choice.”

Men and women stand together at abortion protest
Crush Rush/Alamy Live News Removing the right to reproductive freedom will also hold back women in their careers.

By removing abortion access for those who want it, women become less likely to graduate college or start a business. They also face a significantly higher risk of experiencing financial distress, bankruptcy, and eviction when turned away from a wanted abortion.

In a world where pregnancy can occur without consent, it is our moral imperative to make motherhood a choice. 

I realize abortion is not an easy topic for most of us and that your personal choice may differ from that of someone else. But, as vegans, we believe that all sentient beings deserve the right to choose their own destiny, human or not.

When we allow politicians and courts to peel away that fundamental right for women, we are thrust farther away from the kind and just future that we seek. It is imperative that we stand up for what is right.

At my organization, Vegan Women Summit, we are coming together to support abortion access across the United States. While support may look different for all of us, each of us can do our part and I promise you can make a difference. After all, as Mr. Rogers says, in times of trouble: look for the helpers. 

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The Author

Jennifer Stojkovic

Jennifer is a multi-talented executive leader in the future of food and tech innovation space and the founder of the Vegan Women's Summit.

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Joe Cupertino
Joe Cupertino
1 month ago

The “unthinkable” didn’t happen to you. You had sex and yo got pregnant. Pregnancy is a logical consequence of having sex. Reproduction is what sex is for. There is no such thing as an “unexpected pregnancy” unless the woman was raped.

The choice you made was to end your pregnancy, which means you killed the baby that was growing inside you. You are a mother who killed your own child. That is the truth of it, even though it may be upsetting to accept it.

Abortion cannot be discussed rationally unless people are willing to be truthful about what an abortion is. The facts are simple. Each human being starts out as a fertilized egg in their mother’s womb. The only difference between that fertilized egg and you is time. The only way you can stop that human being from being born is to kill it in the womb. These are scientifc facts. That unborn baby is a sentient being. If it is not killed, it will continue to grow and be born. If it is not a full and complete sentient human being, then none of us are. The argument for abortion is an argument that advocates murdering human beings at the earliest stages of life, even though murdering that very same human being nine months later is a captial offense.

The world is a messy and often terrible place. Allowing mothers to kill their babies is not freedom. It is slavery. It is enslaving mothers to the notion that killing human beings is okay and the best option. Is it any wonder why there is so little respect for human life in this world, never mind animal life? We have normalized the industrialized destruction of human babies and convinced people that somehow this is good. How would those same people feel if an industry existed to extract puppies from pregnant dogs with a vacuum pump? Do you think there would be people cheerleading the effort? How about if those puppies were almost ready to be born and the extraction was done with forceps and the provider crushed the puppies heads to kill them before pulling them from the mother? Would people be so vocal in their support of such things? That is exactly what happens in human abortions and people not only condone it, they celebrate and support it. Many of those same folks advocate eating vegan because killing animals is cruel.

Lorraine
Lorraine
1 month ago

Whether I’m talking about the unborn human child or animals, I am pro-life. If there is an alternative to prevent harming an innocent being, I am for it.

What I hope with the Roe v Wade overturn is for many pro-choice people to wonder why pro-life people are so adamant about pro-life, then do their research as to why…read the history of abortion from an independent source, so it won’t be biased either way..watch an actual abortion video…and hopefully it will change one’s mind and heart.

Elle
Elle
1 month ago

I just cannot reconcile horror for the maceration of chicks and joy in the maceration of the unborn. ProAbortion vegan is a heartbreaking oxymoron.

Krisitina
Krisitina
1 month ago

Well we vegans don’t all think the same. Some vegans are pro-life because they think about the life in the womb and are disturbed by abortion. They feel their concerrn for animals translates in their concern for life of babies. It’s a complex topic and not black or white. Most people, including vegans, want to allow abortion but put time limits on it. I think that is the most reasonable.

Lesley Dove
Lesley Dove
1 month ago

Will you be balancing this with a prolife vegan opinion piece? That is the only fair way to deal with this controversial topic surely?

Nicky
Nicky
1 month ago

Save the baby humans! Empathy for animals causes them to abstain from eating meat and cheese… but it’s ok to murder baby humans?

The Vegan Dragon
1 month ago

The man who first coined the word, “vegan” was Donald Watson who was VEHEMENTLY against abortion. He included abortion as being something vegans were against.

Abortion is simply not vegan. We KNOW a human fetus has organs by 6 weeks, we KNOW they are fully developed by 10 weeks and can feel pain. We KNOW babies have been born at 18 weeks and lived to become healthy adults.

We also know that abortion, even the “safe” abortion has killed women, and causes permanent damage to them emotionally and physically. We know abortion workers suffer PTSD and often have to DROWN aborted babies to ensure they die. We also know the shady history of the abortion industry and how it was founded by men, how they bribed women in the suffrage movement, and how the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was a eugenics leader who inspired Hitler.

Abortion clinics also are only built in communities of color. They are racist, sexist, and don’t even help anyone!

This article is filled with misinformation and certainly was not written by a vegan. It is disappointing that PBN would publish such an awful paper encouraging abuse of sentient beings.

I suggest you learn what abortion ACTUALLY is before supporting it.

Abortion Is NOT vegan

Library on abortion statistics, facts, studies, etc.

Sharna
Sharna
1 month ago

Prolife vegan here. You don’t kill animals yet you want to kill humans.
You won’t abort cows yet you abort humans. No logic, no sense, no compassion

Barbara Lillford
Barbara Lillford
1 month ago

Putting aside for the moment the issue of whether or not abortions are ever justified, I wonder how many pro-choice advocates ever fully acquaint themselves with how abortions are actually performed, in the various stages of pregnancy? As vegans, we are well aware of the myth of ‘humane slaughter’, and it is a likelihood that if slaughter houses had glass walls, many more people would no longer support the meat industry. I think the same probably applies to abortion; if people had to actually watch videos of abortions at different stages of pregnancy being carried out, they would at least begin to think beyond the single issue of the ‘woman’s right to choose’. As with animal slaughter in the meat industry, I believe people have an unrealistic, sanitised view of what abortion actually entails. In order to truly make an informed choice, women surely need to be exposed to, rather than protected from, the reality of what is done to kill the developing, unborn child.

George
George
1 month ago

The person who wrote this article is not different from those who exploit animals for their own convenience. If you are pro-abortive-choice, and do not value the life of the preborn human, how can you value the life of other animals. The humans are animals too, mammals in fact. So, if you kill the preborn human, you are not a vegan at all. Or you are as vegan as the person who loves their dog and cat, but eats cows and pigs.

James Bong
James Bong
1 month ago

Like most of you, I was not born a vegan. Wtf ? Everyone born always vegan, have always borned.

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
22 days ago

I am vegan because I found out what was being done to animals because of MY actions – because of ME eating animal products, so I stopped. It is wrong to torture and kill animals because they feel pain and want to live, just like me. In exactly the same way it is wrong to commit abortion, because the unborn feel pain and want to live, just like me.

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
22 days ago

Who are “people with uteruses” and “all who can become pregnant”? Are you suggesting that MEN can become pregant? Or that women can magically turn into men by merely saying so? Every time you use these phrases, you are supporting the rape of women by men who are allowed to live in WOMEN’S prisons, you are supporting the sexual assaults of women and girl by MEN who dress up as ‘women’ and then gain access to what used to be women only spaces. How enlightened and ‘caring’ of you.

Plant Based News Admin
Editor
Plant Based News Admin
18 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jones

“People with uteruses” are exactly what they sound like. People with uteruses. A man can have a uterus, as can a woman, as can a nonbinary person.
Your implication that trans people are sexual predators is incredibly ignorant and transphobic. Have a lovely day.

Eugene K.
17 days ago

Well this is running under “opinion” and thats what it should be. Veganism is a broad movement and big organizations like PETA did a very good job to keep it open and fairly unpolitical. Even Fox News interviewed PETA several times and the conservative host said he liked them and found it weird he would feel that way. From the ethical core considerations it is more than questionable what the vegan movement should think about abortion because we advertise to respect all life forms no matter how small and different from us and even science seems to have no consensus when fetuses start to count as human.
But there is another much more important reasons why veganism should not take a stance in this issue that is a polarizing and dividing society as the discourse about vaccination in recent years. We should just not side with one social movement and alianate another. Most of you in your progressive bubble might not be aware of this but in African-American civil rights and religious circles (watch this interview with a pastor) there is a lot of awareness about the deeply racist roots of planned parenthood. And also parts of the BLM movement says planned parenthood started out as and still has the quality to make sure there aren´t too many black people. And no matter how much planned parenthood trys to make amends with BLM that will always be the elephant in the room.
With the black anti-abortion movement strong and steady, and veganism growing at an exceptional rate among african-americans we should be smarter than this. This doesn´t mean, that we should chose the other side either. Just be aware that taking one side will alienate other alies so stay neutral and stay clear of this polarization and unite people on only one polical front: to stand against cruelty to animals
#Peace

Eugene K.
14 days ago
Reply to  Eugene K.

Furthermore this view is also ethnocentric in a way that it assumes Veganism should be aligned with a certain subculture originated in the West but Veganism in Asia is quiet different and one of the core beliefs is reincarnation. From the view of reincarnation all beings are equal as their bodies house interchangeable immortal souls. From such a viewpoint it makes no sense to view birth and not conception as the origin of the soul coming to life

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