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Vegan Killjoys at the Table—Contesting Happiness and Negotiating Relationships with Food Practices


  • Richard Twine

    () (Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS) & Department of Social Sciences, Edge Hill University, St. Helens Road, Ormskirk L39 4QP, UK)


This article reports upon research on vegan transition, which I bring into dialogue with Sara Ahmed’s figure of the killjoy. Ahmed’s work on affect and the feminist killjoy is found to be apt for considering contemporary vegans and their transgression of normative scripts of happiness and commensality in a dominant meat and dairy consuming culture. The decentring of joy and happiness is also found to be integral to the critical deconstructive work of the vegan killjoy. Ahmed’s ideas further complement the frame of practice theory that I draw upon to understand the process of transition especially in the sense of opposing the meanings of dominant practices. Although food and veganism are not commented upon by Ahmed, the vegan subject constitutes, I argue, a potent further example of what she terms an “affect alien” who must willfully struggle against a dominant affective order and community. Drawing upon interviews with 40 vegans based in the UK, I illustrate examples of contestation and negotiation by vegans and those close to them. The article finds in the figure of the killjoy not only a frame by which to partly understand the negotiation of relationships between vegans and non-vegans but also an opportunity for further intersectional labour between veganism and feminism.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Twine, 2014. "Vegan Killjoys at the Table—Contesting Happiness and Negotiating Relationships with Food Practices," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 1-17, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:4:y:2014:i:4:p:623-639:d:41999

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hoolohan, C. & Berners-Lee, M. & McKinstry-West, J. & Hewitt, C.N., 2013. "Mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in food through realistic consumer choices," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1065-1074.
    2. Berners-Lee, M. & Hoolohan, C. & Cammack, H. & Hewitt, C.N., 2012. "The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 184-190.
    3. Megan A. Dean, 2014. "You Are How You Eat? Femininity, Normalization, and Veganism as an Ethical Practice of Freedom," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(2), pages 1-21, April.
    4. Peter Scarborough & Paul Appleby & Anja Mizdrak & Adam Briggs & Ruth Travis & Kathryn Bradbury & Timothy Key, 2014. "Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 179-192, July.
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    More about this item


    feminism; food relationships; killjoy; happiness; practice theory; Sara Ahmed; veganism; climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • P - Economic Systems
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics


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