‘Slaver’ Brazil, leader of beef exports: Vegetarians (8%) and subcultures
By Maurício Kanno
The issue I wish to focus in this article is the prime exemple of a post-colonial geography related to veganism, i.e., the Brazilian case, former colony of Portugal, until 1822. The problem to deliver is the contradictory and shifting identities of humans related to non-human animals - from animal-eaters to vegans - in the spatial praxis of this South-American country.
The relevance of the present study is based both in the economic sector, since Brazil is the major exporter of beef and poultry in the world (even so, 81% of its beef production is for internal market); and also related to demographics, since it is the second greatest consumer of beef in the globe, 12.8% of the world cattle is in this country, and Brazil is also the third that most consumes beef per capita in the world.
On the other hand, 8% of Brazilians are self-declared vegetarians according to Ibope institute; and we have about 240 vegetarian or vegan restaurants in Brazil, according to the national vegetarian association SVB.
This study appeals to a geography branch known as "animal geography", researched at least since Newbigin (1913); also, from the derived "cultural animal geography", which arose in the early 1960s involving studies of how humans influence animal “numbers and distributions” (Bennett, 1960). This last kind of studies focused in animal domestication, which includes a relation to animal exploitation as cattle breeding for the production of food as meat and milk.
In this context it is situated the present study, on the emergent "vegan geography", as topics for animal geographers included the "human-animal divide, especially how and why this line shifts over time and space and links between animals and human identities" (Anderson, 1997; Elder, Wolch, Emel, 1998).
Practical and empirically saying, we can first briefly discuss the changes in Brazilian space from the beginning of its time as Portuguese colony, in the 16th century, when ships brought cattle from the Cabo Verde islands, initially changing the landscape of the sugar cane mill areas in the Northeast region of the colony, until the cattle spread through the countryside.
In the 19th century, when Brazil became independent, and then we can talk in fact about a "post-colonial geography", the cattle breeding concentrated in the states of Minas Gerais (Southeast) and Rio Grande do Sul (South), still not looking for the foreign market. In the 20th century, the slaughterhouses in the South favoured the process to store up the meat, starting the national animal industrial complex and following the capitalist paradigm.
The vegan identity, opposed to this traditional animal-eating one, started to appear in Rio de Janeiro (Southeast, former Brazilian capital), registered in newspaper chronicles by the black Machado de Assis (1839-1908), one of the most important writers – if not the most important - in the history of the country. Later, we had the activism of the journalist Dias Fernandes (1874-1942), the oldest declared Brazilian vegetarian found, who lived in the state of Paraíba (Northeast). Considering groups, the first organization related to the defense of animals was UIPA, founded in São Paulo (Southeast, the major city) in 1895; and the first vegetarian one was the Brazilian Society of the Vegetarians, in activity at least since 1913, in Porto Alegre (South, in Rio Grande do Sul).
So the vegan movements and activism began in the country, as well as its cultures and subcultures, as some other movements inspired vegetarianism to increase in Brazil, as the Adventist christians (since 1896), yoga practicioners (since 1947); the Hare Krishna (since 1970’s), and, not just vegetarian but also vegan, the straight edge hardcore punks (1980’s to 1990’s).
Further details and discussions will be addressed in the following sections of this chapter.
Relevance of the study and critical animal geographiesThe relevance of the present study is based both in the economic sector and in demographics. Brazil is the world leader of beef exports, with 2.02 millions of metric tons, 19.33% of the world exports of beef (COOK, 2018); even so, 81% of Brazilian production is for internal market (ABIEC, 2016, p. 14). It is also the second greatest consumer of beef in the globe, with 7.68 million tons, only less than United States, with 10.97 million tons; and followed by China, with 6.39 million tons (ABIEC, 2016, p. 28).
Brazil is also the third that most consumes beef per capita in the world, with 38.6 kg/hab./year, even more than the United States, with 34.1; leaders in this rank would be Australia, with 88.3; and Argentina, with 64.6 (ABIEC, 2016, p. 28). But 30-50% of the consumed meat in Brazil is clandestine, according to the Ministry of Agriculture of the federal government and a major association of the sector (BASTOS, 2013). A total of 12.8% of the world cattle is estimated to be in this country (ABIEC, 2016, p. 26). All these aspects make this South-American country extremely relevant to develop a Vegan Geography knowledge.
It is also the 8th richest country in the world, ranked by GDP (THE WORLD BANK, 2018) and just two other former colonies are in higher position in this list: United States (1st) and India (7th), which makes Brazil also very important to studies considering the area of Post-Colonial Geographies.
This study appeals to a geography branch known as "animal geography", researched at least since Newbigin (1913); also, from the derived "cultural animal geography", which arose in the early 1960s involving studies of how humans influence animal “numbers and distributions” (Bennett, 1960). This last kind of studies focused in animal domestication, which should includes the issue of animal exploitation as cattle breeding for the production of human so-called food as meat and milk.
In this context it is situated the present study, on the emergent "vegan geography", as topics for animal geographers included the "human-animal divide, especially how and why this line shifts over time and space and links between animals and human identities" (Anderson, 1997; Elder, Wolch, Emel, 1998).
1.1) Spatial history of meat economy in the colonyConsidering the meat issue, about the time before the arrival of Europeans, at first we have just information about hunting practiced by the indigenous tupi groups - and by others, like guaranis and tapuias -, where was the huge Brazilian territory nowadays. Their subsistence is held as “not difficult in a time of abundance of fish, fruits and animals”. Actually, even other humans were eaten by indigenous, like did the tupinambás - by revenge - and aimorés - for appreciating human flesh -, at least as reported by the ancient Portuguese chronists and priests (FAUSTO, 2006, p. 38, 49). Interesting fact is that after its discovery by Europeans, some Italian reporters called the Brazilian territory as “parrots land”, highlighting an example of an exotic animal for them.
Afterwards, we can discuss the changes in Brazilian space from the beginning of its time as Portuguese colony, in the 16th century, when ships brought cattle from the Cabo Verde islands, in 1534 and 1550, to the capitanies of São Vicente (Southeast) and Salvador (Northeast), then capital of the colony. From there, cattle spread to Pernambuco (further north) and other areas of the Northeast, as Maranhão and Piauí, changing the landscape of the sugar cane mill areas (“engenhos”) in the region. The animals were added to the property of the lords of engenhos (RECCO, 1999). Cattle was one of the means used as force to grind the sugar cane, main economic activity in the time. (FAUSTO, 2006, p. 78).
 Comparatively, we have also the data of beef and veal meat eaten by humans per capita by OECD (2018): in the year of 2018, Brazil was the fourth in this ranking, following Argentina, Paraguay and United States; in 2017, Brazil was the third one, following Argentina and Paraguay. For 2018, considering poultry, Brazil was the fifth, after Israel, United States, Malaysia and Australia.
There are also recordings of fishery activities, whose by-products were taxed for the Portuguese Crown and the local capitans (FAUSTO, 2006, p. 44). Besides, the African people brought to Brazil – mainly to Salvador, after that to Rio de Janeiro - as slaves came from cultures where it was usual experience with cattle breeding (FAUSTO, 2006, p. 51), which made easier their enforced work in this practice, among others. Cheese was provided to Portugal by Netherlands, cod was imported to Brazil through the General Company of Commerce of Brazil in the late 17th century (FAUSTO, 2006, p. 56-57).
Gold mining since late 17th also let cattle breeding unlink from sugar economy, creating several small villages in the countryside of the Northeast (LIMA, 2005). Along mainly that century, cattle got spread through countryside, feeding who lived in the colony and serving for conquering and populating the areas further from the coast, following rivers as São Francisco, Tocantins and Araguaia and through all the states of the nowadays Northeast region of the country. This tendency, which advanced to the 18th century – in 1701, cattle breeding was forbidden in the area of 80 km from the coast for keeping the region to sugar economy - , originated the social class of the vaqueros or cowboys and also formed huge latifundia. (FAUSTO, 2012, p. 74; 2006, p. 84)
Around the 18th century, the breeding of mules was used for transportation of goods along the Center and South of Brazil, before the building of railways. In Rio Grande do Sul, the state in the extreme South, the caudilhos, chiefs of militarized groups in the frontier, were also cattle breeders (FAUSTO, 2006, p. 168).
1.2) Post-colonial age and meat economy nowadays
In the 19th century, when Brazil became independent - in 1822 - and then we can talk in fact about a "post-colonial geography", cattle breeding concentrated in the states of Minas Gerais (Southeast) and Rio Grande do Sul (South), mainly for subsistence and for selling to the internal market. In the South, bovine meat passed by the process of drying, creating the typical product “charque”, destined to the consumption of the poor population and the slaves of the Center-South of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, capital of the empire (and also of the former colony, since 1763), was the main consumer of the charque meat and also of leather, another bovine by-product. (FAUSTO, 2006, p. 168-169)
In the 20th century, the new slaughterhouses in the South favoured the process to store up the meat, starting the national animal industrial complex and following the capitalist paradigm. (FAUSTO, 2012).
The geographic concept of “agriculture frontier” is relevant in that century, because it represented the area of expansion of the agrobusiness, intensively moving against the natural space of the wild countryside along the 20th century, stimulated by former president Getulio Varga´s (1934-1945, 1951-1954) policy March to West and Juscelino Kubitschek´s (1956-1961) policy Imports Replacement. (PENA, 2019)
Then, the region Center-West – nowadays with 80% of its natural Cerrado biodiversity altered, in Goiás state 60% removed for pasture according to WWF – got occupied by agrobusiness, mainly soy and other grains for exports. Notice that roughly 80% of those are for feeding cattle and soy is the second major source of deforestation in the Amazon Forest (KANNO, 2008), in the North region, where has been the new Brazilian “agriculture frontier” in the late 20th century and in the 21st century (PENA, 2019; DE FREITAS, 2019).
These figures show also the impact of the cattle breeding in the deforestation of the Amazon Forest, since Pará is the second biggest Brazilian state, and Mato Grosso is the third one, both of them in the Legal Amazon area, and having their native nature being replaced by the bovines breeding along the 20th through the 21th century. In fact, cattle breeding has been the historic major source of deforestation in the Amazon Forest (KANNO, 2008), as reminded by articles published for example more recently by BBC (MACKINTOSH, 2019), recommending to eat less meat, considering the huge and vast fires in the Amazon Forest in 2019. In an contrary effort, voices interested in the profit tried to undo this conection, like through an article published in the major Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo written by a meat businessman, arguing for the supposedly “green meat” (LAZZARINI, 2019).
São Paulo (Southeast), now the biggest populational center (21.7%) and economic center (32.2% in GDP) of the country [data by the official institute IBGE, 2016 July], appears among the leading states also when we consider the total of slaughterhouses. The capacity of slaughters, considering one thousand heads per day, is still leaded by Mato Grosso (35.46), but followed by São Paulo (24.31), Mato Grosso do Sul (23.21), Goiás (20.35) and Minas Gerais (15,54). (ABIEC, 2015) We suppose this inclusion was to make easier the supply process for the big consumer market in Sao Paulo.
Location of the slaughterhouses with Federal Inspection Service (ABIEC, 2015)
The animal exploitation based in the cattle breeding in Brazil represents R$ 400,7 billion (US$ 107,27 billion) a year, which means 30% of the agrobusiness in the country. This whole sector represents 21% of the total Brazilian GDP. Only the exports of bovine meat earned 3% of all the country exported in 2015, which meant US$ 5,9 billions in 2015.
With 209.1 millions of bovine cattle heads, Brazil represents 12.8% of the world bovine population, 14% of the world production of meat and the leader in bovine meat exports in 2015, with 1.88 thousand tonnes carcass weight equivalent (KT CWE), followed by India (1.722,4), Australia (1.498,7) e United States (1.060,1). Data from European Union as a whole was of 2.991,3 tonnes. Ironic is that India, from where have come important leaders of vegetarian teachings, as Buddha, Mahavira and Prabhupada, is also the second country who most exports meat and where there is the biggest total of cattle bovine heads in the world.
The main destines of the Brazilian bovine meat were (in income): Hong Kong (18%), European Union (14%), Egypt (11%), Russia (10%), Venezuela (9%) and China (8%).
Even though, just the internal market was responsible for the consumption of 81% of the meat produced in Brazil in 2015. We must add that this country is also the second greatest consumer of bovine meat in the world, with 7.68 million tons, only less than United States, with 10.97 million tons; and followed by China, with 6.39 million tons; Argentina (2.80) and Australia (2,11). India is the 9th greatest consumer of beef. (ABIEC, 2016, p. 28).
Brazil is also the third that most consumes beef per capita in the world, with 38.6 kg/inhab./year, even more than the United States, with 34.1; leaders in this rank would be Australia, with 88.3; and Argentina, with 64.6. India, although owning the biggest amount of cows in the world and being the second greatest exporter of beef, its consumption per capita is of only 0.8 kg/inhab./year. (ABIEC, 2016, p. 28)
Despite the highlights on beef, actually chicken meat exports worths and sells more in weight than bovine meat. Chicken meat sold in 2015 US$ 7.13 billions (8.08% of the total Brazilian agrobusiness) and 4.22 millions tonnes; bovine meat sold US$ 5.79 billions (6.57%) and 1.36 millions tonnes; pork meat sold US$ 1.26 billions (1.43%) and 542.13 millions tonnes; and fishery sold US$ 220 millions (0.25% of the total Brazilian agrobusiness) and 35 thousand tonnes – which is relatively little considering the extension of the country´s coast and rivers. Besides that, we should add the non-food leather and by-side products, which sold US$ 2.7 billions (3.08% of the Brazilian agrobusiness), 473 thousand tonnes. (ABIEC, 2016, p. 32).
On the left, in bold, downwards: chicken meat (poultry), bovine meat (beef), pig meat (pork), turkey meat, leather, other cattle products, living animals, living cows, fishery, dairies.
In yellow: total cattle exports, total agrobusiness other sectors without beef, total agrobusiness other sectors without cattle breeding; total of exports in agrobusiness (ABIEC, 2016, p. 32)
The leaders in the production of chicken meat, i.e., murders of domestic birds, are the three states in the South region, with the lead by far of the Paraná state (4,313 thousand tonnes), followed by Santa Catarina (1,871) and Rio Grande do Sul (1,691).
Ranking of Brazilian production of poultry by states (EMBRAPA, 2016a)
The leaders in the production of pork meat, i.e., murders of pigs, are also the same states of Santa Catarina (1,034 thousand tonnes in 2018), Paraná (840) and Rio Grande do Sul (748), all of the South region too; in this case just with a short margin of leadership of Santa Catarina state.
Ranking of Brazilian production of pork by states (EMBRAPA, 2016b)
These figures seem high, however we should also realize that the Brazilian agrobusiness that does not exploits animals is much higher: the export revenues without cattle breeding sum up to 79.31% of the agrobusiness, i.e., the great majority.
2.1) Vegan and individual rights movements, activism and intersectionality
To get things in context in Brazil, considering animal rights in the whole of the individual rights in this country, we should at first notice that only in 1932 the women conquered the right to vote here – the pioneer countries were New Zeland, in 1893; and Finland, in 1906; on the other hand, women got that right in South Africa only in 1993, and in Saudi Arabia just in 2011.
Another individual rights issue landmark to consider is that (black) slavery was legally abolished in Brazil only in 1888 – in France, it had been initially forbidden, for a short time, in 1794 after French Revolution; however Napoleon Bonaparte brought it back in 1802, until it was definitelly forbidden in 1848; in United Kindgom, along Industrial Revolution, it was approved slavery abolition in 1833, planned to a transition period from then until definitely in 1838; United States, in 1865; even so, the last countries to formally abolish slavery were Niger, in 2003; and Mauritania, in 2007 (where even though, it´s estimated about 4% of the population in slavery condition).
Similar ways of thinking served as arguments to exploitation and killing both African (and descendants) and indigenous people in Brazil. Furthermore, either non-human animals as African human animals had in common, until the end of the Imperial age of the country, being regarded and treated as just marketable objects or instruments, used for profit, production and other services.
Regarding specially the native indigenous people in Brazilian territory, there was a debate in the Catholic Church, pillar of the society in the colony (as is was when it began to be called “Brazil”, through 1500 to 1822), if they had or not “soul”. This religious allegation could legitimate their exploitation and slaughter. A part of the Europeans, followers of an initial branch that believed indigenous “had no soul”, considered the natives “could be treated as ‘things’, so they were inferior and could be slavered and exploited” (SANTOS, 2017). Other indigenous tribes were fighted as it used to be done against muslim people in Africa named “unfaithful”. Afterwards, the religious Portuguese showed a dichotomy in their attitude towards native Brazilians and African people: Jesuit priests, whose sermons “valued human life”, had made efforts to include the indigenous as part of the Christianization and evangelisation project; however, “[African] slaves should work hard to purify their bodies looking for salvation” in their view, which meant forced labor.
According to the historic abolitionist of human slavery in Brazil Joaquim Nabuco (1849-1910), in the words of the historian Evaldo Cabral de Mello in a lecture in Itamaraty (Foreign Relations Ministry), "slavery formed Brazil as nation, it is the institution that explain our past more powerfully than any other. From it economy, social organization, state and political power, culture itself, were defined." (apud SILVA, p. XIII, 2000)
Therefore, we could consider that especially for a country dominated by a slavery culture with deep roots, it would be supposedly culturally “necessary” to keep any kind of slavery, not formally possible anymore in the case of humans. The non-human animal is the object of this continuous domination then, although it´s refused popularly to call them “slaved” - term considered abject in contemporary times.
Even nowadays, among members of black movement and some supporters, there is resistence against references to non-human animals as “slaves”. It happens even inside the vegan movement, among vegan activists, like through the voices of the professor Ortegal and the activist Robson Souza, who protested for example during 2017-2018 demonstrations against live bovine exports in Santos Port, the biggest in the country, in São Paulo state. Their assumption is that it would negatively be “animalizing” black people; or somehow hurting black people, since the country had been marked by the African and Afrodescendents slavery (SOUZA, 2018; ORTEGAL, 2018 apud KANNO, 2018).
In spite of that, the same terminology had been used since 3rd century BC by Aristotle to name non-human animals – in his book Politics (ARISTÓTELES, 2015, p. 55, p. 66-67) –, and in the same way similar words are used referring to forms of non necessarily black human exploitation throughout the world, around 40.3 millions of people nowadays in situation “analogous to slavery” or in “modern slavery” (ILO, 2017; ILO, WALK FREE FOUNDATION, 2017), mainly in Asia and Africa.
We could analyze that such attitude and feeling of offense by this group shows itself speciecism, i.e., prejudice against non-human animals, if they assume that comparing horror similar situations lived by two types of individuals means degradating or causing any harm to the ones who are free (at least legally and formally) today. Instead of prioritizing empathy for the ones who are not yet free, or legally and morally protected, literally letal victims hundreds per second, there are such humans who insist in clinging to the “animal” concept as something inferior, protesting just for own interests and allegating that “slavery” should be a term exclusive for the situation previously lived by the African people and descendants in Brazil.
On the other hand, there were also Brazilian afrodescendents consulted in a micro poll (during Masters research, and through that same context of demonstrations against live bovine exports in Santos in 2018 (KANNO, 2018, Apendix E), even non-vegetarian ones, who doesn´t see trouble using the term “slaves” for non-human animals, mainly if you use the more specific terminology “slaved animals”.
Intersectionality, particularly the connection between veganism/speciecism and black people rights/racism has gained some momentum and impact lately in Brazil, as we could see people as the vegan black journalist Marcia Cris representing the so-called Afro Vegan Movement (MAV) in animal rights events, like in debates organized by the Group of Studies on Animal Rights (Geda) [founded by this author] in Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo state, in Southeast), in 2017; in the National Meeting of the Vegan Union of Activism (Enuva) in Recife (Pernambuco, Northeast); or the Floripa Vegan Bazaar, in Florianopolis (Santa Catarina, South), in 2018.
Among the most polemic issues in this intersectionality is the sacrifice of animals in religions of African origin in Brazil, particularly candomblé – umbanda does not sacrifices animals. They argue that the followers of this religion feel opressed for racist reasons because of the attempt to supress their practice of animal sacrifices; I do not believe this allegation is valid though, because vegan activists fight against all forms of animal exploitation, not particularly this one linked to African traditions.
2.2) Animal rights ideas, vegetarianism expansion since Machado in 19th centuryThe first records on vegetarianism we found in Brazilian History date from Machado de Assis (1839-1908) chronicles, coincidently likely the most important and renowned Brazilian writer, who lived in Rio de Janeiro, then capital of the empire. He wrote texts in defense of animal rights in general and something in favor of veganism, one against bullfighting published in the book Fifteen Days Story (1877); and several others in the newspaper Gazette of News, such as Carnivores and Vegetarians (1893), Rights of the Donkeys (1894), Reflections of a Donkey (1894) and Ideas of Canary(1895). (ARIOCH, 2016b) His writings were published around in the same time Brazil passed from the state of monarchy to republic (1889) and in the time of the formal abolition of black human slavery (1888).
The most direct vegan message conveyed by Machado de Assis seems to lay in his chronicle Carnivores and vegetarians, published in 1892, March 5th, when he declared he converted himself and all his family not only to vegetarianism (“vegetarismo”, as he wrote), but to veganism, since he had excluded also eggs and dairies according to his text, at least for some days (we do not have reliable data to assess if the writer had consistently followed vegetarianism through his life, though) (ARIOCH, 2016b):
Suitable opportunity to convert this city to vegetarianism […] God created man to vegetables, and vegetables for the man. Eat from everything, told Him, except for the fruit from this tree. Well, that tree was simply meat. […] I called my family; with a speech, I showed them the superiority of the vegetable over the animal [food] was so big, that we should enjoy the occasion and adopt the healthy and fertile vegetarian principle. No eggs, neither milk, that stink meat. But herbs, holy, pure herbs, where there´s no blood, all plants varieties, which do not cry in despair when their life is taken out. I persuaded everyone; we had no lunch nor dinner, but two feasts. Same thing in the other days.
In the chronicle “Rights of the Donkeys”, the writer lends his voice to one of them, claiming: “I know, Sir, you are close to press people, thefore I came here to ask you to intercede for me and for a whole class, who should deserve some compassion […] donkeys work to death, pulling cars and bones" (ARIOCH, 2016b).
Also, in Machado´s novel Quincas Borba (1892), the title is both the name of a man and of his dog, to whom is destined all his fortune after the man died. In the story, a friend of him believed that the dog carried “the soul and the essence of the man Quincas Borba”. “Considering the animals are usually understimated, it´s not difficult to imagine the shock for Brazilian readers in that time to think of a dog with a soul”, analyzed the vegan journalist David Arioch (ARIOCH, 2016b) And this religious issue relates back to our Brazilian-European colonial history, as the question whether if one had or not soul – like indigenous people – would be a valid argument to consider them “things”, making it possible to slave or slaughter them.
Furthermore, we should not forget, in the context of the intersectionality, the fact that Machado was a black man, as the campaign “Real Machado de Assis” organized by the College Zumbi de Palmares tried to emphasize in this year of 2019. Fact is, as it happened with Jesus Christ, “whitened” and “Europeanized” in its heritage, people are not used to think of the most famous historic Brazilian writer as afrodescendent (ILHÉU, 2019; CASARIN, 2019).
Machado de Assis´ pictures: on the left the famous standard that illustrates his books; in the middle a coloured version produced and made public in a 2019 campaign for black awareness; and in the right another picture where the writer can be better seen in his Afrodescendent traits (ILHÉU, 2019; CASARIN, 2019)
He has even another novel, Bras Cubas Posthumous Memories (1880), in which Machado depicted a similar situation to what we see today, as when a victim, descendants or heirs of slaved or stigmatized people does not necessarily feel empathy or compassion for other enslaved individuals (as Afrodescendent activists over non-human animals); instead, this middle representative of low class individuals, once he has the chance, may actually also subdue the victim he can dominate.We can see an illustration of this repeating situation in that book, particularly in the 68th chapter, “The Whip”. The black Prudencio had been previously often exploited and spanked as a slave by the main character in their child times. However, when the former slave finally conquers his freedom, he demonstrates pleasure subjugating and lashing another black who is still a slave, now his own new bought property – as a supposed way to “discount”, “compensate”, “revenge” or “transmit” what he had suffered. (ASSIS, 1880, cap. 68, p. 52-53; KANNO, 2018)
After Machado´s writings, the next vegan historic landmark in Brazil, still in the late 19th century, in 1895 May 30th, is the foundation of the first recorded civil association somehow connected to the defense of the animals in the country: the International Protective Union of the Animals (UIPA), that exists still today, in São Paulo. Although its range wasn´t for vegetarianism itself yet, but for other kinds of protection of animals, like for horses that pulled wagons – the initial inspiration was the mistreatment to a horse in downtown -, and probably for dogs and cats also. Its first president was Ignacio Wallace da Gama Cochrane; other more famous president of the association was the writer, councillor, deputy and senator Alcantara Machado, who occupied the seat number 1 in the Sao Paulo Letters Academy (UIPA, 2018).
Almost in the same year, we can recognize the official landing of probably the first of the movements in the country with other main focus but that also brought vegetarianism included in its philosophy and usual practices: the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is a Protestant Christian denomination. Founded in 1863 in the United States, their first church in Brazil was soon established in Gaspar Alto town, Santa Catarina state (South), in 1896 – and there are even mentions of adventist publications in German destined for example to Brusque town, also Santa Catarina, through Itajaí Port, since 1879, mainly to German communities (CENTRO WHITE, 2019). This religion arrival is relevant for the vegan movement because adventists are known for presenting a "health message" that advocates vegetarianism, in spite of not all of them really practicing it: an estimated 35% of the adventists practice vegetarianism or veganism – which is a much higher percentage than the world or national common average anyway -, according to a 2002 worldwide survey of local church leaders (GENERAL CONFERENCE OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS, 2002 apud WIKIPEDIA, 2008).
The first adventist temple in Brazil, in Gaspar Alto, Santa Catarina, founded in 1896 (WINCKLER/PERSONAL FILES, 2017; WIKIPEDIA, 2017)
In Brazil there are nowadays more than 1.59 million adventists and 16,957 of their churches or groups, making this country the greatest presence of this religion in the world, by the words of the shepherd Erton Kohler, regional president in eight countries in South America (ADVENTISTAS.ORG, 2016).
Worthy of note is that the company in Brazil Superbom, located in São Paulo city, which declares itself as linked to this church and sells several vegetarian and vegan products, which makes easier everyday life of other vegetarians and vegans not necessarily Christian or believers of any other religion. Its website mentions 25 thousands of distribution points in the country and 90 years of existence. The company informs that it produces annually for example more than 300 tonnes of protein and more than 3 millions of litres of juice (SUPERBOM, 2019).
2.3) Vegetarianism expansion and its subcultures since early 20th century
The journalist and writer Carlos Dias Fernandes (1874-1942) is the oldest declared Brazilian vegetarian – and activist – we found. He lived in the northeast state of Paraíba, where he directed the newspaper The Union since 1913 – he moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1928.
In that newspaper, Fernandes often promoted the defense of the vegetarianism, like in three articles published in 1916 August named The Vegetarian Regimen. These articles developed what he had already argued in his book Protection to Animals, published in 1914, just one among the total of 38 he have published. In this book, “the author, who wasn´t religious himself, cited religions and beliefs that endorsed the role of the human being as protector of the animals and the nature” (ARIOCH, 2016a).
He appeared also in the Portuguese magazine The Vegetarian (1917), 11th issue, what shows the recognition of his work abroad, in Europe. In the same year, in January 26th, he celebrated the foundation of a Brazilian Vegetarian Society, in Rio de Janeiro, and published an article about it: “It´s rising all around the civilized world the vegetarian regimen as practical solution to the moral, economic and therapeutical problem of the peoples […] Vegetarianism means life according to nature”, he wrote.
Fernandes defended feminism too, as it was also subject of his books, and of a 1924 conference he organized: the journalist argued that women, in a similar way as animals, were subjugated and got no freedom. And he believed that, in accordance to what we could call today a positive intersectionality feedback, incentivating women´s intelectual development and preparing them to occupy positions in public life, would amplify also the aceptance of vegetarianism. (ARIOCH, 2016a)
Contemporary to the activist from Paraíba, we have records of the first two associations explicitly related to vegetarianism, in two different Brazilian states: the Society of the Vegetarians, whose we know an event that took place in 1913 late December, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul (South); and the aforementioned Brazilian Vegetarian Society, founded in 1917, in Rio de Janeiro (Southeast).
The 1913 association was discovered through a republication of a short note, hundred years later, in the newspaper Correio do Povo (“People´s Mail”) and kept by Marly Winkler, founder of the contemporary new Brazilian Vegetarian Society, in 2003, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina (South) – once again, a vegetarian organization in the South, 90 years later. Winkler is also current president of the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) since 2018. (WINCKLER, 2017)
Republication note on the newspaper Correio do Povo
on the first known Brazilian vegetarian association (WINCKLER, 2017)
Another vegetarian landmark recorded from early 20th century in Brazil is the singular testimonial about the existence of a family that has been vegetarian along four generations, since 1914 until present times. Their history started with Lourenço de Matos Borges (1901-1967), when he was only 13-years-old. He became vegetarian after a hunt he joined: “He saw a female monkey who got shot, and cubs jumping around her body”, told his grandson on mother side Ulisses Borges de Resende (1960-), current coordinator of the Legal Department of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society, to this researcher. “My grandfather thought the practice was awful and associated the hunt to eating meat.” (RESENDE/KANNO, 2019)
Afterwards, Lourenço consolidated theoretically his vegetarian opinions by watching lectures in England he had known about through a poster; the Indian influence, then British colony, also helped in his ideas. Although he often stayed in Brazil for vacations – where the hunting episode probably happened –, since his 5 or 6 years-old he had moved to Europe to study in Switzerland, until having a degree on Law; when he moved with his family back to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, in the age of 18 years old, in a change associated to the fall of rubber economy in the country. He worked in Rio as a lawyer since then. After Lourenço married Piper de Lacerda Borges (1905-1968), first woman in Brazil with a degree on Pharmacy according to their knowledge, she became also vegetarian, probably under his influence.
In the meantime, in 1918, Olga Riedel de Resende – name after married – (1901-1971) also became vegetarian, with her sister, when she was about 17 years-old, after both visited a slaughterhouse, impressed with the scenes. She grew up as a housewife and married Benedicto Josué de Resende (1901-1976), lawyer and prosecutor of São Paulo state, who became vegetarian under her influence too. They were the grandparents of the interviewee Ulisses Borges de Resende on his father side. Ulisses´ father told, according to his son, that even Olga´s mother (unknown name, Alexandre Riedel´s wife) and a third sister (among nine siblings) also became vegetarians afterwards, influenced by the first two vegetarian daughters.
The two vegetarian Brazilian pioneer couples met, exchanged letters, kept friendship and sometimes visited each other – even each one living in different, but neighbor states, Rio and São Paulo – since before their children (interviewee Ulisses´ parents) were born. The vegetarian issue, extremely unusual in that time, approached them. Olga and Benedicto, in São Paulo, used to watch lectures on “intellectual matters” – including vegetarianism –, organized by Editora Pensamento (“Thougth Publisher”), in the context of a movement in the city known as “Thought Cycle”. Sometimes Lourenço and Piper, from Rio de Janeiro, joined them.
The children of the both couples, who also met each others since childhood, were raised as vegetarians too, like the interviewee Ulisses Borges de Resende´s mother, Enide Borges de Resende – “de Lacerda Borges”, when single – (1935-), who was born in Rio; and his father, Ulisses Riedel de Resende (1933-), born in São Vicente, São Paulo. Ulisses Riedel is a lawyer who contributed to the country´s Constitution (1988) on the issue of workers´ rights and also was a senator for half a month in 2003 (SENADO, 2003; RIEDEL, 2011). Besides his son Ulisses (1960-); the oldest daughter, born in 1957; another younger son, born in 1962; among younger others, were also raised as vegetarians. Both Ulisses father and son live nowadays in Brasília, Brazil´s capital.
There are many vegans in the new generation born since the 1980s, the first of them probably “Rogerinho”, or Rogério Fontes de Resende (1987-), son of the interviewee brother Rogério. They also have been raised as vegetarians, and some of them even became activists, in the case of some children of the interviewee Ulisses´ siblings. In around 2013, the ex-senator Ulisses father also went further and became vegan, in his 80 years old, after watching a movie made by Ricardo Laurino, current president of Brazilian Vegetarian Society. Some years later, after Ulisses father travelled with some of his about 25 grandchildren to California, United States, about half a dozen more became vegan as well – Rogerinho was among them. The interviewee has four children, all raised as vegetarians, two of them vegan for a period, a man and a woman. The oldest child reported to have given up the “vegan label” after pressure and offenses in the Internet, preferring to name himself “strictly vegetarian” though.
The interviewed Ulisses (1960-) himself, former general coordinator of the Human Rights Committee of OAB/DF (Brazil Order of Lawyers in Federal District) in 2013, besides current coordinator of the Legal Department of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society, reminds several personal vegan experiences. The first one was since his 20 years old, when he became vegan, quitting also eggs, cow milk and cheese, for 2 years, since 1980: it´s the first vegan experience related this long in Brazil, according to our research. “Just before that, when I was 18-years-old, I had heard a conversation between my older brother and a neighbour about leather in the door, and then I threw my leather shoes away, thinking about animals killed for it”, told him. “It was pretty difficult. There were no options available anywhere, then I gave up the regimen after two years.”
He reported other vegan experiences in his 40s-years-old (around 2000s), and after around 2011, when he started to be vegan at least during the Christian period of Lent – when other people may restrain at least some kinds of meat consumption in Brazil, usually just non-fish meat. He related some difficulties to keep vegan, like complaints of his wife and crises during attendance of lavish dinners in Brasília, for example with a minister, when he ate just rice and lettuce. (RESENDE/KANNO, 2019)
The next important practice which certainly inspired vegetarianism to increase in Brazil was yoga. We can establish its first arrival in the country with the French Sêvánanda Swami, in 1947. Originally called Léo Costet de Mascheville, he created the Sarva Yoga (Integral Yoga) and presented his teachings in a congress in Rio de Janeiro; in the occasion, another future yoga pioneer leader, the Brazilian Caio Miranda, already was in the audience.
Besides travelling through several towns or cities giving lectures, Sêvánanda founded a group of disciples in Lajes, Santa Catarina – another vegetarian landmark in this state and in the South, increasing the “vegetarian related” entities in the state also already cradle of the adventism in the country and headquarters of the contemporary Vegetarian Society; the first Society of the Vegetarians (1913) wasn´t far too, in the neighbor state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Afterwards, the yoga master moved to Rio de Janeiro state, where he earned in 1953 a 12 hectares land in the local town of Resende. He had founded there in 1950 a center with a “ashram” for teaching of Sarya Yoga. (ORDEM MARTINISTA, 2017) The future pioneer Brazilian yoga teachers there were learning not far from the former Brazilian capital – the city of Rio de Janeiro – which was also home to the previous Machado de Assis, Carlos Dias Fernandes in his late years, and of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society of 1917.
The abovementioned Caio Miranda, who was born in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul (South), in 1909, studied in Rio de Janeiro, then capital of the country, to persue the military carrer, reaching the rank of general officer. He started to teach yoga in the 1940s in the city, in his house and through the Theosophical Society (SIEGEL, 2010, pg. ix, 92); afterwards, he wrote some of the first Brazilian books on yoga, like Freedom through Yoga (1960) and Hatha Yoga, the Science for Perfect Health (1962). He also founded related centers in several towns or cities, focusing on a non-mystic treatment, different from what has previously been conducted by Sêvánanda. (DEROSE, 2015; CAVANSARAI, s/d)
Another very important yoga leader was Teacher Hermógenes (José Hermógenes de Andrade Filho, 1921-2015), who was born in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte (Northeast) and, after moving to Rio de Janeiro, served in the Army even as officer – the same carrer of Caio Miranda –, until the rank of lieutenant colonel. Looking for improvement of his health against a hard condition with tuberculosis, after about 1956, learned about (Hatha) Yoga. Along with other habits he adopted when started to follow yoga principles – that would had led to his health recovery –, was the vegetarian diet (VILLARDO, 2012). Indeed, in a series of food recomendations attributed to him, he advocated for vegetarianism, although not in a vegan way, since he recommended also the consumption of bovine milk, yogurt, bee honey and eggs. (HERMÓGENES, 2016)
In 1960, Hermógenes published other one (besides Caio Miranda´s) of the first books in Portuguese on yoga, Autoperfection with Hatha Yoga. Ashima de Lima Cerqueira (1947-), the first vegetarian we know living in Salvador, Bahia (Northeast), told us she attributes her adoption of (lacto-)vegetarianism, since 1973, to a chapter of this book she had read then (ASHIMA/KANNO, 2019). Other book which we can perhaps relate particularly more to vegetarianism is Invitation to Non-Violence. In 1962, he founded the Hermógenes Yoga Academy in Rio de Janeiro – where there is also an institute with his name until nowadays. (INSTITUTO HERMÓGENES, 2006, pg. 3-4)
Teacher DeRose, as it´s known Luís Sérgio Álvares deRose, is other important yoga related leader, maybe the only one of the Brazilian pioneers who is still alive. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1944, started to teach in 1960 and opened his first school in 1964; in the next year, he founded the Brazilian Yoga Institute (SIEGEL, 2010, pg. 93). Nowadays, he heads an international chain of schools with his name, “DeRose Method” (which he claims is actually not yoga itself, but just includes some of its elements): at least 62 schools in the major Brazilian cities (spread through 13 cities in 3 states in the Southeast, mainly São Paulo; 10 cities in the three South states, mainly Paraná and Santa Catarina; two cities in the Center-West region; two cities in the Northeast and one city in the North); and other 33 around the world, like in Argentina, United States and Spain. (DEROSE, 2019)
Similarly as Hermógenes, DeRose strongly stimulates the vegetarian diet, arguing for its benefits in more than one of his podcasts: he declares being vegetarian since about 15 years old (about 1961), and even his dog Jaya is vegetarian, describing about it in the book My Name is Jaya: I´m a Vegetarian Weimarener (2012). But he is not strict about veganism, saying we shouldn´t be “fanatic” or “socially misfit” for not consuming dairies and eggs, although he encourages eating less of those animal by-products (DEROSE, 2009; DEROSE, 2016; VILLARDO, 2017).
In the present days, we cannot say how many yoga practicioners, among the around millions in Brazil – there are estimates from 500 thousands to 6 millions (DIÓRIO, 2008; BAGDADI, 2011) – are at least vegetarians. However, the Brazilian yoga instructor Thiago Goulart, yogi for almost 20 years and teaching even in France or India, born in Rio Grande do Sul and now living in Bahia, shared to us his guess that roughly 60% of these yoga practicioners would be vegetarians; and 10-15% would be vegans among these vegetarians. (GOULART/KANNO, 2019)
Furthermore, besides the already cited pioneer leaders of yoga, we could check, according to a Phd thesis on yoga, that out of 18 teachers interviewed, 15 of them were vegetarians, two semi-vegetarians (still eat meat occasionally) – and just one no vegetarian at all. This diet is linked to yoga through the concept of ahimsa, the non-violence; also because of the Indian tradition of vegetarianism, and because of the argument that vegetarianism would keep a good health. In the yoga way of thinking, one should not eat just for pleasure, but also prevent killing animals. Eating meat would however imply difficulties on spiritual elevation. In most of the yoga schools, the students are encouraged to practice vegetarianism, and the instructors only can reach the complete degree of training if they are vegetarians (SIEGEL, 2010, pg. 5, 80-84). On the other side, there is a very negative quote by the Hatha Yoga teacher Rui Afonso on the issue: “The fascism begins with the radical vegetarian discourse.” But is seems a minority view. (DE AQUINO, 2008)
In spite of the non-violence argument, the harm caused to animals through milk and eggs are usually overlooked. It´s rare to find a position like by the yoga teacher Alessandra Sofia defending veganism based on yoga and Indian traditions of thought. She argues that one should also practices satya (don´t lie), which is the second yama, understanding there´s another hidden suffering we are responsible for; vegans would be practing much asteya (don´t steal), because not only animal´s meat, but also what he produces, doesn´t belong to us, like honey, eggs and milk; and among others, yogis should value the concept of brahmacharya, or pleasure contention, not letting them to control us and stand in a bigger priority than our higher purpose in life. (SOFIA, 2017)
In the beginning of the 1970s, a religion even more strongly related to vegetarianism (when compared to Adventist Christianism, for example) arrived in Brazil: the Hare Krishna Movement, officialy known as International Society for the Krishna Conscience (ISKCon), as founded by their modern spiritual master, Śrīla Prabhupāda (1896-1977), in 1966, in New York (United States). He became the most succesful hinduist master to preach and spread the Vaiṣṇavism gauḍīya tradition in the Western, to the non-hindus.
The religion is composed of associations religiously connected to their headquarters in Mayapur, Western Bengal, in India; and is a denomination of the traditional hinduism, the Vaiṣṇavism gauḍīya, which is originated in the 15th century by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534). (VALERA, 2017)
Their first presence in Brazil was probably in 1968, when Brahmānanda Dāsa, with other two devotees, sang and talked in the Rio de Janeiro International Airport, during a stop along their way to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Afterwards, in 1972, Yogesvara Dāsa and Rupānuga Gosvāmī, from New York Hare Krishna Temple, joined an event organized by the famous Sílvio Santos show, in São Paulo – then hosted by Globo TV. (VALERA, 2017)
In 1975 January, Mahavira Dāsa was sent to gather the devotees and found the first official ISKCON temple in Brazil, in São Paulo. Vegetarianism was among the traditional standards that were fostered – “eating meat, fish and eggs” was one of the forbidden principles. Lacto-vegetarian feasts, with Indian style preparations, were part of the Sunday rituals, for example.
However, even being stimulated the consumption of dairies, as we can see the habit spread through the followers, who consider cow milk as “a proper offering to Krishna”, as we could listen for example in a celebration in a temple in Curitiba (Paraná), in response to a vegan activist in 2018 (KANNO, 2018b); there are registries by Prabhupāda asking to love the “natural style of life”, producing their own cereals and milk (PRABHUPāDA, 1991, p.16 apud VALERA, 2017), what would at least reduce the damage to the animals exploited in the industry.
After the first temple in São Paulo, many other temples were opened, in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro state), also in the Southeast; Curitiba (Paraná) and Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), in the South; Salvador (Bahia) and Recife (Pernambuco), in the Northeast. (VALERA, 2017) Besides, in 1978, it was founded the rural community of Nova Gokula, in Pindamonhangaba (São Paulo state), that would grow as the biggest Hare Krishna community in Latin America: through the 1980s, it gathered around 200 families, with three public schools, nowadays with 70 residents, part of them members of the third generation. (DE OLIVEIRA, 2013)
Among the Hare Krishna, particularly the followers of the Vrinda Mission, in São Paulo – that could be considered an institutional dissidence of ISKCON but in the same spiritual family – seems to be the most adherent to veganism. There has been spread very openly the practice in the Vrinda Mission, “not as something obligatory, but as a request by our spiritual masters considering the dreadful situation of the dairies industry”, told us the member Amrtananda dd. “The cow is considered a special member of the family, not a common one, since she is one of the seven mothers recognized by the vedic culture as worthy of all adoration and respect. Therefore, the cows should be protected in all circunstances and moments of their existence.” (AMRTANANDA/KANNO, 2019) Vrinda was established in 1984, nowadays with 25 centers around the world (VRINDA, 2019) and is responsible for a vegan restaurant in São Paulo named Govinda´s Natural (SANCHES, 2017).
Among other hare krishna groups, particularly related to the institution ISKCON, there would be very few vegans, around 10-20%, and mainly outside the temples, and around São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, according to estimates told by the professor and researcher of Science of Religion Lúcio Valera (or Lokasaksi Dasa, his spiritual name). However, there is at least a resolution by the council which congregates all the hare krishna in ISKCON in India through which everyone of them, in each temple, must comply with the deadline until 2022 of only using milk from their own communities, not the regular, industrial milk. He said this decision – although not ideal for the vegan standards, but trying to adequate it to the vaishnavian culture – was certainly influenced by the vegan movement. The practice has already been followed in countries like Hungary and New Zeland, but hardly in Brazil yet. (VALERA/KANNO, 2019)
According to IBGE institute, the official Brazilian census, there were 2,334 followers of Hare Krishna Movement in 2010. (DE OLIVEIRA, 2013)
Seicho-no-Ie (SNI) is another religion cited by Marly Winckler (founder of the modern Brazilian Vegetarian Society) that is, if not directly related to vegetarianism, at least likely prone to accept it. Found in 1930 by Masaharu Taniguchi (1893-1985) in Japan, his visit to Canada, United States and particularly to Brazil, where he spent three months in 1963, was the landmark to the internationalization of the religion (WATANABE, 2008). Its adherence among Brazilians rose particularly between the 1960s and 1970s (DE SOUZA, 2017, p. 9). But their magazine Seicho-no-Ie have been in Brazil since 1932, with the first Japanese immigrants (DE SOUZA, 2017, p. 34).
Nowadays, the most of the adepts of this new Japanese religious movement outside Japan are in Brazil, and about 95% of them here are not Japanese descendents (WATANABE, 2008). Although inaccurate, there were even figures of 900 thousands of adepts in the 1970s, according to a flyer of that time (DE SOUZA, 2017, p. 40). On the other hand, according to the 2000 IBGE Census, there were 27,284 adherents in the country (DE PAIVA, 2008). However, because of the characteristic freedom and syncretism of the religion, many may join the meetings and still consider themselves catholic for example in the census, which would make it difficult to check the real range of Seicho-no-Ie (DA COSTA, 2015, pg. 5). The total of members worldwide are 1,5 million, almost 1 million outside Japan, according to their own figures (SNI, 2014). In Brazil, they have centers in 24 states – almost all of the 26 plus the Federal District – (SNI, 2019) and established academies in Ibiúna (São Paulo), since 1955; Santa Tecla (Rio Grande do Sul), since 1985; and Santa Fé (Bahia), since 1987 (DE SOUZA, 2017, p. 40).
The SNI is certified in Japan since 2001 on enviromental management and, in 2007, started the movement “Zero Carbon”, for efforts to minimizing CO2 emissions (DE SOUZA, 2017, p. 34). “Treat animals well” would be one of its practices in Brazil, following the guidance of protection to nature of Seicho-no-Ie (DE SOUZA, 2017, p. 101), although there is no word about vegetarianism itself. Winckler said she has been invited by a high ranking representant of Seicho-no-Ie to give them lectures on History of Vegetarianism in Brazil. It did happen, according to her, along a many days seminar on vegetarianism, and she spoke in a auditorium with about 3 thousand people sitting. (KANNO-INTERVIEW, 2017). Indeed, at least in their biggest Ibiuna (SP) auditorium, there´s room to more than one thousand people (SNI, 2019). She describes them as “terrified with the environmental impacts” and “in the process to vegetarianism” - even eating fish, they would misconceively regard themselves “vegetarians”.
One of the latest cultural groups – not necessarily religious or spiritual related in this case – to arrive in Brazil that in most part promoted not only vegetarianism but also finally veganism itself was the straight edge (also "sXe" or "SxE"), subgenre of the hardcore punk. It started in the 1980s, with the pioneer band Minor Threat, from Washington DC, United States, and its song Straight Edge, that launched the basis of the movement. Generally speaking, against the excessive and bad consumism; one of its mottos are “don´t exploit animals”, besides “don´t smoke” and “don´t use drugs”, for example. (DEURSEN, 2018) Anarchism was also a political common identification among the Brazilian members, which would help to give fundaments to vegan discourse, through the reasoning in which freedom should also be against human domination over non-humans. (BITTENCOURT, 2017)
The straight edge gained momentum in Brazil in 1996, when the American band Shelter, from New York, played in the country to market their álbum Mantra. “Before that, Straight Edge might be just a life style embraced by a few youngsters that attended Galeria do Rock in São Paulo; but afterwards it became part of the routine for hundreds of them”. (BITTENCOURT, 2017) The subculture generated even more interest through one of its most important events, “Verdurada” – neologism that would mean something like “much greenery, vegetables” -, since 1996, in São Paulo (TANGERINO, 2010, p. 3) and which lasted at least until 2015 August, according to their posters. That event is considered one of the most important hardcore events in the country and includes strong social-political discussions, exhibiting documentaries on gender or police violence, environment, slave work, etc. (CHAVES, 2011; BITTENCOURT, 2017)
Considering spirituality, while a great part of them was identified to atheism or agnosticism, other relevant part was of followers of the Hare Krishna Movement. This religion is associated to the origins of the Straight Edge, through the band Youth of Today, whose members would also compose their important band Shelter. (BEZZI, 2019; BITTENCOURT, 2017)Some of their main bands in São Paulo were Positive Minds (1993), Point of No Return (1996), Infect (1998) and, in Rio de Janeiro, Confront (1999). Still Strong is one of their new most remarkable bands, “energetic” and with “positive messages”. According to their drummer Paulo Sotero, their five musicians are vegan and united for the animal cause, openly speaking for veganism, love and respect for animals along their shows. Much of their lyrics is dedicated to the vegan cause. (CHAVES, 2011)
The impact of the Straight Edge was very relevant to the expansion of the veganism nowadays in Brazil, in the opinion of some of their members, like Bruno Girardello, ex-guitarist of the band Out of Season. In a similar way, Indayara Moyano, ex-singer of the band Infect, said: “The questioning against animal suffering came from people who were in the scene and, after growing adults, started to work in projects like vegan restaurants, websites of news and receipts, etc.” (BEZZI, 2019)
And Fred Freitas, one of the founders of Verdurada, member of the band Point of No Return and vegan for 23 years – since about 1997, the same time he turned SxE –, believes: “the Straight Edges in São Paulo, between 1992 and 1994, formed the first group in Brazil with a public posture that connected animal rights with veganism. These ideas weren´t necessarily connected in that time – how one should treat animals and how one should eat. […] Even vegetarians weren´t necessarily like that for ethical reasons, but for healthy or esoteric reasons. I think Straight Edges were the first to connect these ideas in a striking way in the public space and with a message directed to the young people.” (BEZZI, 2019)
2.4) Vegan/vegetarian activism and population nowadaysOne of the first relevant modern activist NGOs to work in Brazil for animal rights was Nina Rosa Institute (INR – Projects for Love to Life), officially organized since 2000, mainly for educational purposes. However actually since 1994 its founder had already been working for animal defense as voluntary, according to the former model who gave her own name to it. Nina Rosa Jacob said that after a trip to New York, in 1976, she became vegetarian, when she was around 30-years-old; the activist evolved gradually from abstention of red meat until also becoming vegan, but didn´t specified the whole period. (ARANTES, JACOB, 2017) Likely her most important legacy is the video-documentary A Carne é Fraca(“Meat is Weak”, 2004, 54 min, direction by Denise Gonçalves) Another is the comic book Vegana (“Vegan Girl” – 2011). For now, she finished the activities of the institute (CHAVES, 2017).
George Guimarães (1974-) became vegetarian since his 4 years old (1978) and vegan in 1994, first continuously Brazilian vegan of our knowledge at present, perhaps after Nina Rosa. Started his activist group Veddas in 2006, formalized as NGO in 2009: through it, coordinated many acvists in street actions promoting veganism and animal rights mainly in São Paulo, but also with activities in Northeast. He organized the National Meeting on Animal Rights (ENDA), held each two years, since 2008; and was one of the founders of the Brazilian Vegan Society, in 2010.
Almost at the same time, Marly Winckler (1954-) also became vegan, in 1995, after starting as vegetarian in 1983. Founder and president (2003-2015) of the contemporary Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB), she is also chairwoman of the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) since 2018, and from 2011 to 2014
Other early activist is Maurício Varallo (1962-), born in São Paulo, who started as activist in 2001, with the Animal Society, in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina (South), extinted nowadays. He became vegetarian in 2003, vegan since 2007. Varallo started the website Sentiens Animal Defense (2006), changing its name to Olhar Animal (“Animal Sight”) in 2009. He was another one of the founders of the Brazilian Vegan Society, the next year.
In 2006, the Vegetarian´s Magazine was launched by Europa Publisher, today in its 154th issue. In 2007, Fábio Chaves became vegan and started Vista-se (“Wear yourself”), entitled today as the greatest website on veganism and animal rights in Latin America and the second most viewed in the world, with 500 thousands of unique visitors a month. The next year, the journalist Silvana Andrade started ANDA, the Agency of News on Animal Rights.
In the scholar area, since 2006, there are publications of the scholar Revista Brasileira dos Direitos Animais(“Brazilian Magazine for Animal Rights”), still in activity, now in the issue 14th, organized by the researchers and lawyers Heron Gordilho and Tagore Trajano. The philosopher Carlos Naconecy published in 2006 the book Ethics & Animals; the also philosopher Sônia T. Felipe published Ethics and Animal Experimentation (2007) and Galactolatry(2012), among others. Róber Bachinski, Thalez Trez, Luis Martini and Sérgio Greif worked against animal experimentation.
Fábio Paiva is another early activist, who conducted actions in São Paulo conducting the group For the End of the Animal Holocaust, with blog posts since 2006. Also in 2007, I began my own Group of Studies on Animal Rights (GEDA), at first organizing monthly events in São Paulo. Since the same year, Robson Fernando de Souza, from Recife (Pernambuco), Northeast, started to publish his articles, passing to Consciência Efervescente in 2008 and Veganagente, since 2013.
Worthy of notice are also the vegan fairs, like the ones organized in São Paulo by Luísa Pereira, at least since 2011; then by Rosana Tsibana, named Encontro Vegano (Vegan Meeting), since 2014. Vegnice, which was started in 2012 by Gopi and Rama, used to gather 40-150 exhibitors each time, with events held every month or week. More than one hundred events had already been organized by them, gathering up from one thousand to 30 thousands of visitors. (VEGNICE, 2019)
Other successful vegan fair organizer has been Fabiu Buena Onda, in Florianópolis (Santa Catarina, South), since 2015. Besides that, he got famous because of his remarkable work selling cheap, simple T-shirts with short vegan related texts. During the period of about 2010-2015, he produced about 8 thousands of them, and managed to sell everything until the last year – including almost all Brazilian states. (VARALLO/ONDA, 2014; ONDA/KANNO, 2019)
In 2013, the national activist landmark was the rescue of almost one hundred beagles and 200 mice from the laboratory Instituto Royal, in São Roque, São Paulo countryside. Several more people got inspired to became vegetarian, vegan or activists since then.
In 2015, another landmark was the rescue of more than one hundred pigs, named Marias do Rodoanel in the road. They were received by the animal sanctuary Terra dos Bichos (“Animals Land”), founded in 2007 by Cinthia Frattini – activist for more than 30 years –, also in São Roque town. Now it hosts more than 400 hundred animals. Another important animal sanctuaries are Rancho dos Gnomos, founded in 1991 in Cotia, São Paulo, by the vegan couple Silvia and Marcos Pompeu; and Santuário das Fadas (Fairies Sanctuary), founded in Rio de Janeiro highlands, by the also vegan Patricia Fittipaldi.
And along 2017 to 2018, there was the last activist landmark with demonstrations and judicial fights against the embark of living cattle in ships from Santos Port (São Paulo) to abroad.
In other states, surely many other groups deserve highlights like: Gato Negro (“Black Cat”), founded in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Northeast, in 2006; VEM (Vegans in Movement, firstly Vegetarians in Moviment), in Belém, Pará (North), created in 2007 initially through the social net Orkut; ADA (Activists for Animal Rights), launched in Recife, Pernambuco, Northeast; GAE-POA (Group of the Abolition of Speciecism), in Rio Grande do Sul (South), in activity around 2009; Ativeg, since 2010, in Pernambuco, besides other Brazilian major cities; and FALA (Front of Actions for the Animal Liberation), in the Federal District, Brazilian capital, founded in 2012.
Some of the international vegan groups recently also in Brazil are: Animal Equality Brasil, since 2017, coordinated by Vivian Mocellin; Anonymous for the Voiceless, since 2018; Mercy for Animals, also around 2018.
According to a survey conducted by Ibope institute and requested by Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB), there were 8% of self-declared vegetarians in Brazil in 2018; others 6% considered themselves “partially vegetarians”, totalling 14% among the somewhat involved with the concept. This would mean a huge growth of 75% in the recent years, since the previous poll, in 2012, measured 8% in the sum of both the figures (who totally agreed being vegetarian or partially agreed). In the metropolitan regions of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and Recife, the percentage – adding partial and totally considered vegetarians - would have risen to 16%. (SVB/IBOPE, 2018) Notice that we know for sure the strict concept of “vegetarian” would be actually vegan; i.e., a diet exclusively plant-based, according to the Brazilian Vegan Society for example (SOCIEDADE VEGANA, 2010), and we totally agree it makes sense. But we can´t be naive: almost everyone thinks vegetarianism may include at least eggs and dairies.
Often this survey on vegetarianism had been often not well received by several Brazilian vegetarians and vegans themselves, who skeptically judged the numbers of vegetarians too overestimated, and we may agree with them; however, the institute which undertook the poll is very well recognized, frequently used as a synonym for TV audience. At least we should trust in the survey to measure the variations relatively through the years, as already informed; and also through the regions and comparing other features of the population consulted.
For example, the Ibope data also shows that in the South of Brazil there would be the least of partial (4%) or total (6%) identification with vegetarianism among the population, in spite of some highlights studied as in the case of the first adventist church, vegetarian associations and spread of yoga related schools, like DeRose´s. In fact, it´s famous the meat culture associated to the region, and we saw that they are the biggest producers of poultry and pork meat in the country.
The opposite concentration would be the higher percentage in the Northeast, of 17%: almost the double comparing to the 10% of partial and total identification in the South. It´s very strange though, because Northeast is known as the least developed region – it has the worst Municipal Human Development Index (HDI-M), in the case, 0.663 (IPEA, 2016) –, and we had first imagined that vegetarianism, considered a modern, progressist matter, would be a practice more associated to more educated and richer people.
Similar tendency is noticed in the result that the most educated people, with at least a college degree, are the least self-identified to vegetarianism (4+5%) and that the least educated people, with less than five years of regular study are the most identified to vegetarianism (9%+13%). We perhaps could attribute this result to the sad fact that about half of the Brazilian population over 25 years-old haven´t completed even high school, and only about 16,5% completed superior degree (OLIVEIRA, 2019); however, the poll had balanced the age groups in similar amounts of people. (IBOPE/SVB, 2018, pg. 13)
The strange results go along with the wealth levels: the poorest (until 1 minimal wage per family) answered that they most identified with vegetarianism (8%+10%); and the wealthiest answered that they identified the least: with 2-5 minimal wages answered 6+6%; and more than 5 minimal wages answered 7+4%. (first number to partial agreement, second number to total agreement as vegetarian). (IBOPE/SVB, 2008, pg. 15)
In the same way, it´s impressive that the oldest people (55+) was the age group in the poll that most declared being vegetarian (9% + 11%) and the opposite, the youngest group (16-25 years-old) who least considered themselves vegetarians (4+5%); considering that usually we see more difficulties for the older people to accept a new ideology, and usually the youngest are proner to embrace it. (IBOPE/SVB, 2008, pg. 13)
We should consider the possibility that several people, like the oldest, the least educated and the poorest didn´t know well the meaning of vegetarianism, considering that even eating fish, chicken or other kinds of meat everyday, they could be associated to the concept, amplifying erroneously the amount of truely “vegetarian people”. Anyway, it´s interesting to know that the word is getting relatively popular in these groups.
Again against the standard is the noticeable difference detected between the males (16%, gathering the partial and total agreements) and females (13%, with both those answers). International articles and polls showed that women would be more often vegetarians, healthier and compassionate than men. (MACRAE, 2011; SMART, 1995)
ConclusionsThis article focused on Brazil, or chapter in the context of a collective global discussion that sought to stablish grounds to Vegan Geography studies, gathering an amount of data to position this country in the field.
It started with the meat economy, considering its history, since the beginning of European history in Brazil, murdering and dominating natives, bringing African slaves, exploiting and colonizing the territory; until independence as a new country, until contemporary days. We detailed profits and exports based on animal exploitation and killing, other ways of exploiting them, regions in Brazil most used for cattle breeding or slaughtershouses (including maps to make it clearer). Also we showed how much meat Brazilians eat compared to other nations and which kinds of animals are most murdered for that.
Afterwards, we investigated where, when, how and with whom started the ideas, activism and praxis related to vegetarianism or veganism in the country, since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the black writer Machado de Assis, the Adventist christians and the journalist Carlos Dias Fernandes, until contemporary days, mentioning the most important actions and activist groups related.
We included an important historical contextualization checking when Brazilian women conquered the right to vote, and when black slavery was formally abolished, comparing these landmarks to other countries (pioneers and latecomers), since our matter is not just discuss animals themselves, but because an expansion of the consciousness for individual rights. Relating to that, we included some critical discussions and conflicts related to intersectionality, particularly between black afrodescendent supporters and vegan for animal rights movements.
Through the information gathered in this article/chapter, we hope to help the reader to better understand the situation related to meat and vegetarianism/veganism in Brazil, which is very relevant geographically in the globe because of the size of its territory, the leading amount of meat exports, the total of its population – either human and non-human animal numbers – and the diversity of its ideas, culture and ethnicity.
We can say that, in the whole, Brazilian progress and adherence towards a vegan conscious and praxis is relatively very low, considering the economic power of its meat economy, culture and tradition. This can be related to the very low educational level in general of the population, the “slave mentality” that forms the foundational thoughts of the country, its colonial history; but also to the vastness and geographical suitability of the territory.
The modern and contemporary nature destruction and bovine exploitation resides physically mainly in the Center-West region, approaching the North, which means Amazon Forest, that has been in evidence with the huge fires that took global news about Brazil in 2019. But the state of São Paulo also occupies a high position when we talk about the numbers of slaughterhouses, probably because of its very big population, which also must mean huge meat consumption – it also has the biggest port for exportations, Santos. The three states in the South of Brazil lead the murder of domestic pigs and birds (pork and chicken meat production).
On the other hand, of course there is resistance laying in ideas and praxis in defense of the animal rights, with vegetarianism and veganism. And they had and have been happenning mainly with pioneer leaderships and demographical increases in places like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (Southeast); Paraná and Santa Catarina (South); Bahia, Pernambuco, Paraíba and Ceará (Northeast).
It´s interesting to notice that sometimes the space concentrates both the meat production or consumption and vegan or vegetarian resistance, like São Paulo (the biggest state in population and economy) and the South region. The South contains three of the five federative Brazilian units with the highest Human Development Index, with São Paulo (Southeast), which must not be a mere coincidence. Increase in income, education and health may be related to progress in vegan and vegetarian adherence but also sometimes in the same zones to higher meat production (in the case of pork and chicken), presence of bovine slaughterhouses (São Paulo state is one of the leaders) and also beef consumption – São Paulo metropolitan region is responsible for the consumption of almost 11% of the total produced in the country (CRESPOLINI, 2019).
The Center-West and North regions of Brazil are predominantly marked for the bovine cattle breeding, with few relevant vegetarian or vegan highlights: the presence in Brasília, Brazil´s capital, of the father and son Ulisses, from the pioneer family who is vegetarian since 1913 and 1917, whose first members started their vegetarianism in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro though; and the activist groups VEM, in Belém, Pará, since 2007; and FALA, also in Brasília, since 2012.
Northeast region had been marked as the cradle of the cattle breeding in colonial Brazil (followed by the South), but in the last Ibope poll (2018), its population got the best results regionally, with 17% saying that either totally or partially would agree with the assumption of “being vegetarian”. Likely this result is related to the fact that Northeast was also the only region that represented resistance against the victory of the current president of the country, Jair Bolsonaro – the unprecedent and dreadful political threat assuming the State against environment and animals –, only region where he would not be elected in 2018 elections.
By the way, unfortunately Brazil is nowadays led by this president particularly rude and evil, against the protection of the nature and environment, probably the worst in the matter in the last decades, a global outcast in this subject; besides the country is the champion on exports of beef and poultry, and a strong meat consumer overall (RITCHIE, 2019). On the other hand, the International Vegetarian Union chair is hold since 2018, and also from 2011 to 2014, by the Brazilian Marly Winckler, also founder and president (2003-2015) of the contemporary Brazilian Vegetarian Society, which represents a Brazilian leadership among the vegetarian international representations.
According to a survey conducted by Ibope institute and requested by Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB), there were 8% of self-declared vegetarians in Brazil in 2018; others 6% considered themselves “partially vegetarians”, totalling 14% among the somewhat involved with the concept. This would mean a huge growth of 75% in the recent years, since the previous poll, in 2012, measured 8% in the sum of both the figures (who totally agreed being vegetarian or partially agreed). We may be skeptical on these absolute figures, because people may consider themselves erroneously “vegetarians”; but it´s nice to see a growth in the relative numbers.
Surely meat and other animal by-products consumption, exploitation and economy still represent and will represent for a long time a huge power in the nation. However, an opposition hope may reside in the vegetarian and vegan voice, mainly because of arguments such as: health (more and more this life style is scientifically and popularly associated as healthier), environmental issues – sometimes linked to economy and international negotiations -, and religious/spiritual beliefs – often derivated from Asian and particularly Indian traditions, like Yoga and Hare Krishna; but also the pioneer Adventist Christians -, adding to the scholar arena in the universities and in civil society overall with the activists and personal examples of the vegetarian or vegan either ordinary people and huge celebrities – like Xuxa Meneghel, Anitta and Felipe Neto, who embraced the cause around 2018-2019. All that may also lead to ethical, moral and legal reasonings, and, thefore, to a brighter evolution in interspecies respect, consciousness and rights recognition.
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