Contrary to the man-the-hunter myth, hominids have a nature ethic of innate empathy and cooperativeness that manifests idiosyncratically in civilization. One such manifestation is veganism, whose central focus is the abstention from exploitation of animals. But, primitivist pigeonholing of veganism into a consumerist schema has distorted its authentic essence, overgeneralizing, misrepresenting, and stigmatizing it.{Ironically, in practice it is the trending ‘paleo’ primitivist ideologues who engage in more destructive consumerism than even mainstream vegans, and on whom there is a void of primitivist confrontation.} Veganism’s supporting principle is the natural rights of all animals, with its opposite being human supremacy over all other animals, or speciesism. The primal ethic of empathy and cooperation, combined with the principle of innate rights beckons shifting the nature of humanimal-nonhumanimal relationships from domination and domestication to egalitarian and liberatory. Therein veganism fundamentally becomes an anti-speciesist viewpoint concerned not only with bred ‘pet’ and ‘food’ animals, but wildlife worldwide. This translates into vegan/anti-speciesist deeds like fighting to protect forests from consumeristic exploitation of fauna habitat.

Civilization has proven itself to be an ecologically destructive force, leaving all animals and all life communities damaged and doomed. The repeated, hard-to-accept lesson is that civilization is the cause of the problem, and cannot be the cure. Hopes for techno-saviors have been repeatedly dashed, often causing further harm with unintended consequences. This is the merging point of the speciesism and civilization premises. They are conjoined twins, born together on the artifices of hierarchy and oppression, power and control, maddening successions of human blunders along civilization’s catastrophic trek. They will be intrinsically eternally unified until their death, whether through intentional dismantling, unintentional collapse, or a combination. The conjoined counter approach calls for actions such as destroying apparatuses of totalitarian control, undoing oppression, rewilding native habitats, and some say, rewilding self.

A word must be said to those seeking to discover and reawaken origins, striving for some form of future primitive. The sect of primitivism focused on ‘hunter-gatherism’ (my term) seems plagued with patriarchy. Here’s an exercise to visually demonstrate the point: In your mind google ‘caveman’. Compare those images to a google search for ‘cavewoman’. Evolutionary narratives are value-laden, and play out in scientific studies and interpretations. Alternative narratives countering mainstream values, such as vegan primitivism, are silenced, scorned and sternly denied even before due consideration. Origin narratives are created, not objectively described realities. Hunter-gatherism naturalizes patriarchy by projecting it into our species’ origins. This is countered by seeking a broader ancestral life narrative, by undermining the values behind patriarchy and rejecting the rigidity of the evolutionary normative.

Sometimes wording means much. Foraging was the mainstay of most ancestral diets, and evidently a common female specialist activity as sex roles increasingly diverged. Many woman never participated in methodical hunting, and there were swaths of time with no hunting or foraging animals at all, humans subsisted off mainly foraged plants, etc., especially before the systematic usage of controlled fire. Yet, the term ‘hunter-gatherer’ is the generally accepted norm connoting the early human foodway. The term ‘forager’ would more accurately reflect the lived egalitarian experience of the vast majority of early humans. Another exercise: Imagine you had been born into a world where all humans had a plant diet. Would you have an impulse to bring back hunter-gatherism, or would you put that in a category similar to other early ‘natural’ doings, like cannibalism, or rape, or infanticide? Cherry-picking an animal-based diet from diverse past diets because you have been enculturated to prefer it, and regardless of biotic impact, is the mindset that led toward destructive civilization to begin with.

Earth needs an intuitive yet smart approach from fighting yet giving humans today. Adapting anti-civ, anti-speciesist veganism in today’s degraded wild world calls for an adaptation in our lifeway that protects remaining habitats, ends causes of civilization’s harms, and helps heal Earth. If a highlight of our species is our ability to adapt to our environment, may we select ways from our origins that enrich an ever-thriving wild future.