Het dierloze gerecht : Een vegetarische geschiedenis van Nederland

A.D.J. Verdonk

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


Animals to Order. A Vegetarian History of The Netherlands. Food is the most important medium in the relationship between humans and other animals: we eat them and claim large parts of their habitats to grow crops for feed. In the modern age, this order usually went unquestioned as people perceived it as ‘natural’ – and, as a consequence, the animals involved went largely unnoticed. In fact, the more animals were ‘produced’, the more invisible they became. However, the arrangement was contested by vegetarians – in the Netherlands since the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Instead of constructing non-human animals as ‘food’, they began to represent them as sentient ‘fellow creatures’. Paradoxically, by removing animals from their plates, they made them visible, present. The growing controversy over the consumption of animals in modern society reveals nothing short of a fundamental crisis about the place of non-human animals in a societal order overwhelmingly dominated by humans. This crisis can be conceptualized as a double, ‘constitutional’ crisis. In the first place, it is a crisis of a pre-modern constitution in which humans are legitimized to use animals by godly providence. Secondly, it is a crisis of a modern constitution in which culture and nature, man and animal, subject and object, are conceived as two separate ontological zones. In the face of the question of the animal, both constitutions lose their credibility. This asks for a new conceptualisation of ‘human’ and ‘animal’ – with profound challenges and consequences: societal and also historiographical. Nevertheless, the history of the vegetarian movement opens up possible ways not only to think of new constitutions, but also to live them.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Mijnhardt, Wijnand, Primary supervisor
Award date8 Apr 2009
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Print ISBNs9789085067115
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2009

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