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Towards a Vegan-Based Ethic

Dismantling Neo-Colonial Hierarchy Through an Ethic of Lovingkindness

Micol Kates

The book draws links between colonial and neo-colonial power structures which have sought to maintain hierarchies of dominance, resulting in cruel practices towards people at the bottom of the hierarchy and animals, who, in a colonial mindset, only exist for human gain. To counter these harm-based ideologies, and practices, veganism, as an ethical movement, is seeking to give voice to all those who support animals, and the rights of animals, while also seeking to give a voice to animals themselves. Additionally, veganism seeks to challenge the old-guard power structures and cruel practices perpetuated by colonial and neo-colonial systems associated with the dominant Ego power structure. Vegan ethics represent a shift from the dominant Ego model of human relations represented by a pyramid of power towards an Eco model of human relationships in which all Beings have equal worth and agency.

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2. A Brief Definition of the Ego and Eco Models


2 A Brief Definition of the Ego and Eco Models

There are two primary social models of understanding and relating to the world. The first is called the Ego model, which is an integral part of the existing patriarchal model. The other is called the Eco model, which represents the paradigm shift towards a new social order. The Ego model represents the outdated, harm-based ideologies of patriarchy, which has existed for more than four thousand years (Lerner). The Ego model is represented by the traditional patriarchal pyramid and is depicted with a man at the top dominating all other forms of life, including woman [Figure 2.1]. The Ego model, in which humans are valued above all other beings, justifies dominating as well as killing other beings for food. Meat-eating, colonialism, and its contemporary, neo-colonialism, go hand-in-hand in perpetuating the Ego model. The Ego model promotes the subjugation of another—a powerless being, in order to ensure that a hierarchy of dominance is the rule. Within its scope, blind acceptance of situations that are callous, cruel and barbaric is the norm. Were meat-eaters to question how a cow feels moments before she is slaughtered, the mindless consumption of other animals might be reduced.

Figure 2.1 Eco and Ego Models. Source: “EGO vs ECO.” Sustainability,

In contrast, the emergent Eco model, derived from the word “ecology”, is represented by a circle, or a heterarchy [Figure 2.1]. The term “heterarchy” has been in...

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