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Desiring Ethics: Reflections on Veganism from an Observational Study of Transitions in Everyday Energy Use

Alice Dal Gobbo


Ecological issues are becoming more and more salient to our everyday lives as the effects of climate change become evident, resource depletion is put into government’s agendas, access to energy becomes increasingly costly and differentially distributed. They call on us to reconsider not only energy consumption and production systems, but also the very cultural and social premises of our societies. In particular, we need rethinking the anthropocentrism that has founded for centuries human exploitation of the earth. In this article I draw on empirical material from an observational study of everyday energy transitions in order to reflect psychosocially on the potentialities of veganism as an energy ethics of sustainability “beyond anthropocentrism”. I argue that, despite many promises, the transition to a plant-based diet can become politically dangerous if adopted (and promoted) as an abstract moral imperative and not as a situated and ethical one.


Energy transitions; Energy ethics; Everyday life; Veganism; Sustainability; Dietary choices; Desire; Morality; Political ecology; Critique

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2018-002-dalg

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo