The MIT Global France Seminar aims to bring together MIT faculty, instructors, and graduate students from across disciplines interested in the study of French and francophone cultures around the world. The seminar series is free and open to the public.
Global France Seminar presents lecture by Renan Larue
“French Veganism, an Oxymoron?”
September 21 at 5:00pm
MIT Campus, Building 14
Renan Larue is an Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Open and free to public. Non-MIT community members should REGISTER in MIT’s Tim Tickets system in order to get access to building.
In an interview published in 2006, the most famous advocate of antispeciesism, Peter Singer, theorized the concept of the “Paris exception.” According to him, there are no good reasons for vegans to be too strict about their diet when they are traveling and plant-based options are unavailable. Naming that “exception” or “indulgence” after the capital of France undoubtedly says something about American and global perceptions of French gastronomy and culture. Indeed, France seems to be the epitome of “carnistic” values. On the one hand, fish, meat, and cheese are, of course, a crucial part of French cuisine; on the other hand, French philosophical and religious tradition—from Catholic anthropocentrism or Descartes’ radical views on animals to the taste for bullfighting amongst influential writers and politicians—profoundly contributed to undermining the concepts of animal rights and welfare. However, things have recently and quite rapidly changed, particularly in the mainstream media. In this talk, Dr. Renan Larue will summarize the intellectual debates that vegetarianism has sparked since the 18th century before addressing the rise of veganism in the public sphere in the last few years, as well as the heated discussions it has incited.
Dr. Renan Larue is an Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Much of his research centers around 18th-century French literature and intellectual history, particularly the history of debates regarding animal rights and vegetarianism from antiquity to the present day. He is the author of several books on the subject, including Le Végétarisme des Lumières (Classiques Garnier), La Pensée végane (Presses Universitaires de France), and Le Végétarisme et ses ennemis (Presses Universitaires de France), the latter of which was awarded the 2016 La Bruyère Prize for best book in moral philosophy from the French Academy. More recently, he has expanded the scope of his research interests to address the question of anthropocentrism through the lens of the representation of aliens in Western literature and philosophy. His latest book, Les Extraterrestres (Presses Universitaires de France, co-authored with Dr. Estiva Reus), was released in September 2022.