VEGANISM - ETHICAL VEGANISM MEANS PUTTING OUR MONEY WHERE OUR MOUTH IS
BY PAOLA LEGRENZI
BY PAOLA LEGRENZI
Coming from Italy to the UK as a vegan was something of a challenge. It can be a challenge anywhere! But when you are used to a certain diet, certain cooking and conducting your grocery shopping in a certain way and then find yourself among a new culture of food consumption it can definitely be difficult.
Coming to the UK from abroad I had to familiarise myself with British supermarkets and restaurants and a food world is very far from vegan-proof. Not that Italy is entirely 100% vegan-friendly either, but here in the UK it is certainly harder. Both in terms of variety and cost. I guess that in part it is due to the weather, vegetables and fruits are mostly from abroad and so the price is higher and the products are often less fresh. While fast-foods abound in every UK city, plant-based food restaurants are much less common, especially outside of the more cosmopolitan urban centres.
The difficulty in being vegan though does not mean we are not plenty in number. A poll conducted by Mintel in 2014 showed that 1/8 of the British population was vegetarian or vegan. 1/5 of them was aged 16-24, giving hope that there will be a greater growth in veganism/vegetarianism in the future. Indeed in 2016 there were 3 times more vegans than there were in 2006.
We also have to take into account the development of less strict non-animal product regimes, that there are a lot of people now that have quit eating meat but are still eating fish (pescetarian), eating only white meat (pollotarian), or simply reducing the quantity of meat they eat, the flexitarian or reducetarians. Some have put this increase in veganisation in the last years down to the release of some documentaries on the shocking realities of animal conditions, Cowspiracy being a notorious example.
It is of course fantastic that in recent times going to supermarkets and grocery shops it is usual to find a “V” shaped symbol that indicates whether the product is veggie (vegetarian) or vegan and also great that brands are increasing their range of vegan products. However, while it is encouraging to see an increase in plant-based diets the position I take as a vegan, practising veganism not only from a health perspective but from a profoundly ethical perspective, means that I believe we must encourage the commercial access and availability of true vegan outlets. Outlets that sell not only vegan foods but vegan products, ranging from clothing to cosmetics.
Approaching veganism from an ethical perspective means that you profoundly believe that we must halt the suffering of sentient life involved in the production of animal products. Vegan branding and sales through those corporations or businesses that quite clearly are involved in the harm of animals is in many ways ethical gymnastics. While it always great to hear of more people embracing vegan or vegetarian lifestyles we must accept that much of this is a lifestyle trend as oppose to being founded in true ethical or environmental considerations.
Eating a vegan meal from McDonalds is putting wealth into the hands of people involved in the whole-scale killing of animals. Can we seriously claim that we are taking a real ethical position if we are to accept or put a blind eye to the overall ethos of those who produce our ‘ethical’ meal? The fact that some big fast food brand began to serve vegan sandwiches, does not mean that we have to forget how they deal with the animals used for all their other burgers.
Becoming a vegan for ethical reasons as oppose to the interests of ones own health, is an act taken in order to defend the rights of animals and play a greener individual role in the world around us. It halts the unjust treatment of animals and undermines the huge negative environmental impact of the meat farming industry.
If we are to truly tackle the issue of animal exploitation and environmental degradation we must put our money where our mouth is, so support your local vegan outlets and businesses today!