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Stop calling vegan food “cruelty-free”

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Guest Post by Dr. Frances McCormack

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Sometimes it’s easy to compartmentalise ethical issues and to forget that abstaining from one moral wrong doesn’t eradicate all others. Many vegans proudly proclaim that their food is “cruelty-free” as though issues of justice and injustice begin and end with our use of nonhuman animals. What is probably an innocent shorthand for “no nonhuman animals were exploited to make this”, though, can appear as a complete disregard for the fact that many of the foods that we commonly consume are products of forced labour, human trafficking, exploitation and suffering.

Certainly, there are more issues surrounding nonvegan consumption, and in no way can nonvegans hold the fact that food production systems are exploitative over us as a “gotcha”. Nor does the enormity of the exploitation in which the nonvegan participates by way of their food choices mean that we, as vegans, don’t have to try harder or do better.

Cashews are often processed by people who receive caustic burns from the acids that lie between the two layers of the hard shell of the nut. Some cashews are produced in forced-labour camps where the workers are beaten and shocked into harvesting, cleaning, and preparing a vegan staple. Much of the chocolate that we consume is the product of child labour, with reporters finding children as young as five using dangerous tools to harvest cocoa beans. Workers on coffee farms are often housed 40 to 60 to a room without sanitation, working without a signed contract and not receiving a minimum wage. Farm workers are frequently exposed to toxic chemicals, endangering their health and those of their families. And, in fact, an estimated sixty percent of child labour worldwide takes place in the agriculture sector.

When we talk about cruelty-free food, then, we’re ignoring the fact that food production is bound up with many forms of injustice. At the very least, we ought to find another shorthand to convey the idea that our food does not contain animal bodies or products. But if we really take seriously the idea of living in a way that minimises harm, then we are morally obliged to educate ourselves on the human rights issues involved in food production, to support ethical and fair-trade companies where we can, and to learn more about where our food choices come from and how they were produced.

The proceeds for writing this article will be donated towards local TNR projects.

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0 Comments
  • vegan truth seeker

    this person is really getting on my nerves…!!!

    Nothing in life is truly cruelty free!!!

    Otherwise let’s stop driving, flying or even getting out of the house… hell, to build houses many animals died in the process and probably (in the case of those huge skyscrapers) also a few people!!
    Let’s stop breathing because we are consuming oxygen and that’s killing the planet!

    Being an ethical vegan means we refuse to ‘consciously’ contribute to the slaughter of animals specifically for us to consume and use, and in the process we’re helping save the planet and also a few people along the way…

    No wonder the animal industry is winning this war… with people like this distracting us from the real important issues we will never be ahead of that cruel industry…

    Obviously we can and should demand that the products we buy are manufactured by people who were paid a decent wage and whose rights are protected…

    I would like to know if the computer (or components) mr. Frances has was produced in china where human rights are an illusion…

    • stewart lands

      I find it interesting that you qualified your comment with the adjective “consciously.” When the farmer grows a vegan meal, he purposefully and intentionally destroys every living thing upon the native landscape in order to establish the barren plot of soil (dirt, actually) that becomes his broccoli or bean field. Many vegans live in complete denial of this fact, suggesting they live a cruelty-free, no kill, lifestyle. Nothing could be further from the truth for any of us, as you have suggested. The trick is to reduce our impact as much as possible. Unfortunately, a line drawn arbitrarily between “animal” and “vegetable” foods does not achieve this goal as well as a more nuanced approach might. For many people, animal foods in the form of wild fish and game are available with less environmental impact and animal loss of life than are vegetable items.

    • Vegan girl

      Love your comment. Thank you. Every little bit counts even if you are not SAVING the whole damn world (as this author suggests vegans should be doing) you are making a difference by waking up and making the most ethical choices you can given the limited options and the veiled truths behind those ethical choices. <3

  • Dylan Wentworth

    Outright slavery is alive and well in plant agriculture and this needs more attention.
    Blocking it out of our minds is a lot like blocking out the horrible things that non-human animals go through.

    “Cruelty free” is indeed a marketing gimmick to give buyers the warm and fuzzies and you’re right, it doesn’t make sense to use the term ourselves.

  • AlpineDan

    I think of veganism as the middle way between the virtually impossible asceticism of trying to eliminate all harm and the careless self-indulgence of participating in the easily avoidable and fully intentional harm and exploitation involved in animal product consumption and certain nonanimal products. As part of my middle way approach, I do habitually seek out and pay a premium for fair trade alternatives in food and clothing. I also wear my clothes until they’re unworthy of the thrifty store instead of replacing them earlier.

    • al smith

      see what everyone means want a halo with those rags you wear?

      • Rosa Lea

        what an asinine comment. what are you doing to lighten your footprint?

        • Jack D. Ripper

          Serial killer here. I eliminate all SORTS of “carbon footprints.” Where do you live?

          • Rosa Lea

            I’ll kick your artery clogged ass! Enjoy Viagra! It’s only a matter of time.

        • al smith

          LOL Rob must have a lot of time on his hands to “research everything he buys” as for my “footprint” nothing I live my life and want others to do the same

      • AlpineDan

        Ha ha, only those who live the ascetic life, naked on a topical island, perfectly self-sufficient while harming absolutely no one get a halo.

        The middle way is easy enough for almost everyone living above the poverty line in a developed country — halos would be inappropriate for us.

    • Rob Dexter

      Me too. Before I buy anything, I research the company as much as possible and boycott any that don’t measure up to my ethics. So, as far as I’m able to ascertain, I only buy cruelty free. I’m aware that not all vegans do this but then I’m sure more vegans do this than non-vegans do.

    • stewart lands

      I assume, then, that you consume almonds and cashews, despite the human exploitation and the severe environmental consequences relative to so many other options. Nuts such as these, along with legumes, require huge amounts of water. The diversion of water from sensitive aquatic systems has resulted in a tragic loss of wildlife, yet you do not consider these to be a “careless self-indulgence when so many other options exist?” Such losses are fully intentional–you understand the consequences of your action, yet you proceed in the desire to please your own palate. Such indulgence is as easily avoided as the consumption of animal products, yet the vegan mantra you advocate completely ignores these impacts. What makes your “middle way” (and arbitrary, considering the stated priorities) approach more ethical than another’s?

      • AlpineDan

        When you go vegan for life, I’ll consider avoiding almonds and cashews (which are used primarily for vegan ice cream alternatives, and cause incomparably less harm than dairy). Until then, I’ll write you off as someone who spins fallacious, unsupported arguments, grossly exaggerating the harms of plant foods and grossly underestimating the harms of animal exploitation, all for the purpose of nitpicking with vegans for pointing out the worst, and most incomprehensible atrocities humans have ever engaged in, collectively known as animal exploitation.

        • stewart lands

          You speak of reducing animal exploitation, yet use the same excuses that I hear from those who consume bacon, etc. If my argument fails, then I am sure that you can explain why.

          • AlpineDan

            Ah, baiting me with the accusation of making “the same excuses you hear from those who consume bacon.”

            I’m not taking the bait, for a few reasons. One, I’ve read your arguments elsewhere on the web, and they are unsupported (you don’t reference any reliable facts; you make stuff up). Two, even if you supported the claims you make, my supported claims would easily defeat yours. But since you don’t support you claims, it’s a fool’s errand to debate you on issues. Three, I’ve noticed elsewhere that you’re a marathon bullshitter, always needing the last word, which would waste more of my time than usual. And four, in the next five years, maybe 5 people will read this exchange, and maybe not even that many, so it’s not worth my time, or anyone else’s time.

          • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

            Very well said, AlpineDan!!! Thanks!!

          • AlpineDan

            PS: If you have such a good case, write a well-referenced book! The problem is that you have no case at all, and it’s obvious to anyone who knows the basics of food production.

            I repeat: When you go vegan for life, I’ll consider avoiding almond and cashew vegan ice cream. Until then, you’re dismissed.

          • stewart lands

            I understand. You are as married to your own preferences as are the people you condemn for similarly wasteful habits.

          • stewart lands

            I recently discovered (thanks to the comments on a thread such as this) a book written by Tovar Cerulli entitled The Mindful Carnivore. I am not finished with it yet, but it repeats, almost exactly, the argument in favor of sustainable wild fish and game that I have been expressing here. And I thought I was the lone voice in the wilderness! In light of the fact that it already exists, I will not be writing such a book. You should read it.

          • AlpineDan

            Very briefly, your (and probably Tovar’s) argument ignores what economists call the
            margins. There are tens of millions of consumers in the markets in which I make
            my choices. I’m a vegan, but if tomorrow I switched to consuming only chicken flesh, it would make *zero* effective marginal difference in the quantity of chicken flesh demanded or the amount of harm I caused unless I bought them from an individual farmer or killed them myself (in which case the marginal killing would increase). For the same reason, as a vegan who obtains food from large markets (with tens of millions of consumers), I make *zero* effective marginal difference on environmental harm or animals harmed in plant agriculture. That is, if I die tomorrow, the marginal effect on the food markets in every aspect will be zero.

            Again, the marginal effect of shooting an animal with a gun is exactly one animal dead for each one fatally shot. (And there’s a lot of pain and suffering for each one hit directly but not killed quickly.)

            I’ve been a vegan for over 13 years because, for me, as a matter of principle, sentient
            beings, human or nonhuman, are NOT food, clothing, tools, or entertainment sources to exploit. If everyone lived by the same principle I do, we’d accidentally, and only accidentally, kill a microscale fraction of the animals we presently, intentionally, and unjustifiably kill, and the environmental concerns would take care of themselves. (It would be similar to how we accidentally kill over 30,000 humans annually on American highways, and yet most of us don’t try to rationalize the murder of humans because of this fact.)
            Animal agriculture is the largest single polluter of our air and water in the world. It wouldn’t exist if everyone was a principled vegan.

          • stewart lands

            There is a number of animals that may be taken from any wild population without harm. To kill one means that, on the margin, the number of dead or dying animals does not change simply because I choose to be the agent of that death. Given that my choice to become the agent of death for one animal results in the preservation of wild lands and the continued survival of many more animals (relative to destroying these land in order to grow crops), then I have made the responsible choice.

            In any event, applying the economics of “margin” makes sense only for that one individual existing on the margin itself. Of course, the choice we are speaking of here applies to millions of people, and the supply chain certainly does respond to such numbers. Nevertheless, that was one hell of a rationalization.

          • AlpineDan

            To flip it around, if all tens of millions of consumers started killing wild animals tomorrow instead of becoming vegan tomorrow, it would be laughably unsustainable. It would be a matter of days before the extinction of several species, not to mention the human deaths from accidentally shooting each other as the cities emptied out in a shooting free-for-all.

            If all tens of millions of consumers went vegan, otoh, animal deaths from slaughter and crops would be cut to a miniscule fraction, and would be accidental instead of intentional. It would also be optimally sustainable and ethical.

            In other words, my argument demolishes your argument, and you didn’t realize it because my argument went over your head.

            That’s all I need to write. 🙂

          • stewart lands

            No one has ever suggested that, to be effective, conservation measures must involve “all” consumers. If this were the benchmark, then I suppose we must rule out solar panels and carpooling. And veganism.

            Yours is an illogical stipulation, but I’ll run with it. In the state of Tennessee, hunters consume as many as 500,000 squirrels, annually. Toss these in with millions of deer, elk, moose and pronghorn currently consumed, nationwide. Add millions more turkey, rabbits, geese, pheasant. Now add wild fish. Now consider the millions of game animals that could be consumed, but which are not. That is a significant number of meals.

            Now, consider that the failure to consume these animals will mean growing crops to replace them, and consider the number of animals lost in the process. The suggestion that animal lives may be preserved by going vegan only works when the comparison is between veganism and animal ag. Comparing vegan to plant-based supplemented with wild fish and game is a losing proposition for you.

            Your claim that human deaths would soar as a result of more people in the woods ignores the fact that one is more likely to die on the highway on the way to the woods (or grocery store) than one is while actually hunting. Anecdotally, in my small, rural community we have lost, on average, one student from every graduating high school class in vehicle accidents or drownings for the past 26 years, either while in school, or shortly after graduation. None have been killed in firearm related accidents, and this is in a community where EVERYONE hunts. Don’t let your paranoia overcome logical thought.

          • AlpineDan

            Humans murdering wild animals would only be ecologically sustainable at the relatively small magnitude that currently happens. Any greater magnitude would cause significant ecological imbalance.

            Essentially, you’re arguing for animal ag to be replaced by plant ag supplemented by present murder rates of wild animals. I agree that this would be ecologically and environmentally sustainable. (If you really care about this issue, you should spend all your time trying to defeat animal ag instead of wasting your time on vegans. As it is, I don’t think you care about anything other than defending the murder of wild animals at any cost.)

            However, I would reject what I’ve presented as your proposal for the same reason I would reject a proposal to legalize the murder of people who didn’t score high enough on an intelligence test or were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony on the grounds that we predictably kill over 30,000 people annually on American highways AND it would optimize the quality of the human species. I value individual lives far too much to suggest that we intentionally and unnecessarily kill persons (human or nonhuman), even if there are or were “benefits” to survivors in doing so.

            I’m finished here for the reasons I enumerated above two weeks ago.

          • stewart lands

            “Significant ecological imbalance” is what we can expect from agriculture. I am proposing that hunting be managed at sustainable rates–that which may exist without significant damage. In some cases the number of animals will increase, in others it will decrease. In this manner we may reduce the number of wild animals murdered in feeding ourselves by reducing our reliance on agriculture–both plant and animal.

            It happens that I do take time trying to eliminate animal ag, but not to the exclusion of correction misconceptions where I find they are also tending towards greater destruction. The scenario you propose is not remotely analogous to my suggestion, but, if you value animal lives, then you must choose the least destructive means of existence. And it is important to remember that the destruction of animal life by agriculture is hardly unintentional or unnecessary. In fact, it is entirely predictable and accepted, and the first thing the farmer will do in order to begin his crop is to plow under every life form on the landscape, fully understanding the need to eliminate these in order to succeed in his own designs.

        • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

          What an EXCELLENT response, AlpineDan!!!!

      • veggiegrrrl

        animal agricultures uses far more water than nuts/seeds, etc… vegan is most compassionate and sustainable option.

        • stewart lands

          The point is, we do not have to lump all plant agriculture. Some plant foods are as destructive as certain animal foods are. It makes sense to avoid these for the same reason we avoid agriculturally produced meat.

          • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

            Yes (ironic)! And then the third option (mentioned above) will prevail: death out starvation.

        • Anneliese Reckewitz

          Have you considered tiered farming? Reduces the need for pesticides, herbicides and allows for the production of beef, mutton, chickens and eggs in a very small footprint as opposed to the large amounts of herbecides, pesticides and fertilizers required on farms that are planted in a monoculture and deplete the soil over time?

          • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

            Tell that story of the “small footprint” to the almost 9 billion future humans that are coming soon to this planet….. They will give you an explanation of that option of yours from a more realistic perspective…

          • Anneliese Reckewitz

            That’s too many humans period. It’s not just a smaller footprint it’s sustainable, balanced and results in healthy soil. The chickens are also used in the vegetable garden along with companion planting. It’s not a new idea. The manure eventually becomes fertilizer in the garden as well. Have you ever even been to this type of farm?

      • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

        Well, maybe that if faced with these two options (cashew eater vs meat eater) as the only options possible, the cashew eaters’ harm to other sentient beings and the environment in general is far less that the harm and damage and cruelty and abuse and torture of meat eaters.

        In this dual scenario that you yourself have created, Stewart, you do (nevertheless) have a third option: it is called “death out of starvation”.

        We, Vegans, do our very best to avoid needless pain and suffering. We extensively inform ourselves in order to diminish cruelty and unfairness at all levels of life.

        How can you go against any Vegan human when they do their very best at all times?

        You do have a problem when you attack those who strive to do their very best.

        • stewart lands

          Why must these be our two options? I am advocating for neither of these. I am suggesting that a line drawn arbitrarily between meat and vegetable is unacceptable, yet the standard vegan mantra provides only these two options. Why? My entire poiint is that we CAN do better, The current mantra is by no means the “best,” and it is not an attack to point out the areas that could be improved. Ironically, I am attacked by vegans who give lip service to the priorities stated, either because they are stubborn and selfish (like the meat eaters mentioned) or because they lack understanding of thre actuall consequences of their eating habits.

      • Hiru

        So the animals you eat don’t require huge amounts of water to drink, clean and process… also they eat plants so in order to grow their food (food for billions of animals) takes up sooo much resources. Go read a book

        • stewart lands

          Easy there, non-reader. I have, by no means, made the effort to justify animal agriculture. I have simply pointed out that, in choosing to consume certain foods, vegans are as destructive as omnivores. If the criticism of meat is that it is unnecessarily destructive of animal life, then the same claim can be made for many vegan favorites. These may be avoided as easily as meat, and so those who choose to partake have no moral basis for criticism of meat consumption.

  • al smith

    what is a vegan that is not ethical? is there some higher form of veganism .. like some sort of caste system?

    • Dylan Wentworth

      ‘Ethical vegan ‘ means someone who doesn’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, nor use any animal products at all. Not shoes, work gloves, belts, leather seats in the Bimmer. For ethical reasons, its vegan in the lifestyle sense.
      Whereas many people have a vegan diet for a variety of reasons but could care less about saving animals.

      • Jack D. Ripper

        Ethical vegans should use their hands to wipe their a$$ too because trees. And they better be living in natural caves which have no indigenous species to push out. Stop stepping on bugs. Mosquitoes have a right to life too and denying them your blood just because you want to not support viral lifeforms is particularly cruel and heinous. Stop washing (though it appears many of you have already) because billions of bacteria live on your skin. You monster.

        If you truly had a human soul, you would just sit there and biodegrade straight back into the soil while thinking about all your sins.

        • Dylan Wentworth

          You followed the formula I described above. The only thing you left out was to ask us where our computers were made.

      • al smith

        what bunk want a halo too ? ‘ethical” as if the rest are not.. can you say narcissist,

        • Dylan Wentworth

          I didn’t invent the term. I just defined and explained it to you because your Google was broken.
          You don’t need to call me names unless you want to. I have an insult fetish.

      • Chris Richards

        I don’t know if there’s such thing as anon-ethical vegan. I find it hard to believe that anyone who could care less about animals would go out of their way to make sure the beer they drink wasn’t filtered through isinglass. I think there are vegans (all of whom are ‘ethical vegans’) and there are vegetarians.

        • Dylan Wentworth

          There’s people who will have a vegan diet but continue to buy luxury cars with leather and designer shoes, handbags,etc. from leather. I could name names.

          • Chris Richards

            That’s weird. I would have serious doubts about those people’s diets being vegan. If they have no problem buying leather shoes, I can’t see why they’d bother to make a point of not eating honey or making sure there was no cross contact with milk in the production of their favourite sweets. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Vegetarian yes, even fairly strict vegetarian or “near-vegan”, but the idea of a person eating a vegan diet while supporting the leather industry makes about as much sense to me as someone only buying makeup and bathroom supplies that aren’t tested on animals while supporting the fur industry.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            Like I just got through explaining, the term ‘ethical vegan,’ however technically accurate or inaccurate that may be, refers to people like you and I will read the labels for bee vomit and run our beers through barnivore and buy microfiber sofas. Its not the same as someone who just has a plant based diet and doesn’t stress over whether their bar of soap has animal fats in it. There are other reasons why someone may have a plant based vegan diet other than for the welfare of animals.

  • Rosa Lea

    “We are born into a world which forces us to be hypocrites but we can choose to mitigate our hypocrisy.” – Captain Paul Watson

    • al smith

      you mean the Paul Watson wanted for murder that Paul Watson yea no hypocrisy there

      • Dylan Wentworth

        Good to see your Google is working again but no, Rosa was referring to Captain Paul Watson of the sea shepherd conservation society. Not the Gateshead borough councilman.

        He’s got plenty of warrants but none are for murder.

  • T.A. McDonnell

    Excellent summary – kudos to Frances McCormack.

  • Katz Leila Carrillo

    Hey Dr. I am not going to stop calling my food thay way because even the most exploited human has a chance to escape, to complain, to fight for his or her rights, to defend or to be defended…animals do not. Period.No further reply.

    • Delea Hawk

      Ummm. I’m thinking that slavery and forced labor are not concepts you are familiar with. Please tell me how a five year old forced labor human child has the ability to “fight” for their rights. Or that they can “escape” from their situation. Your comment is why nonvegans can’t take some of you seriously. Get over your own pride. It is misguided and shows significant ignorance.

      • Robert Rodriguez

        Your comment is fucking stupid she’s talking about people that actually can fight back and do some even for a 5 year old kid people like you and me can do something for them to defend them for been exploit instead of talking shit to the comment of other person.

  • Anne Marie Duhon

    Seems to me that vegans/vegetarians tend to pick and chose who they care about being abused. Human abuse does not even merit a blip on the radar and what about all the animals that die or are displaced to grow all the crops of veggies? Life is cruel inherently It was made that way . Something dies so that something else lives. Technically even plants are not vegan since they “eat” the dead decomposed bodies of animals and other plants. The best we can do is mitigate and limit the amount of “abuse” our food suffers. We all need to get back to raising most of our own food (no we can not raise ALL of our own food due to climate) and make the lives of our food animals great up til that one bad 30 seconds or so. It is possible. Probable? NO people are too lazy to expend all that energy and would rather complain about others.

    • jeffroylance

      Pointing out the animals killed in farming plans just shows your irrationality. To produce one Kilo of meat, it takes ten like of grain, so by eating plant based foods, we can reduce that statistic by 90 percent.
      Do all vegans stand against slavery in undeveloped countries? Of course not. But of the people that become vegan fit ethical reasons, a higher percentage undoubtedly would be willing to pay extra for free trade items.

      I’m not vegan, just tired of reading all this call people post.

      • Anne Marie Duhon

        What is irrational is not my thinking but the method that we raise animals and crops in today. Herbivores like cattle do not NEED grain. They can be raised on pasture and while it takes longer to finish it is possible. chickens don’t need the vast quantities of grain either. They can do quite well foraging for their food and chickens are omnivores like us and pigs. The lazy people of today have pushed agriculture into a mold that is not sustainable. Get back to “old time” farming and all that grain would not be needed. For us with out supplements a plant based diet is not healthy. and I have yet to meet a vegan/vegetarian that really cared a fig about humans. We grow our own food for the most part or work with other farmers to barter for what we currently do not produce ourselves. I will never go vegan nor embrace the insane rhetoric that they spout. When God dried up the flood and turned Noah and crew loose on the world he said all animals and plants were for our use. I tend to follow GODS word not some humans.

        • JohnnyHaze

          Uh-oh. Your worship of a mythical entity makes your weak arguments for killing animals even weaker.

      • al smith

        you do know most “meat” eats grass not grain.. duh

    • veggiegrrrl

      *more* human abuse in animal ag than plant-based ag.

  • Robert Rodriguez

    Well exploitation of people does not have any thing to do with animal cruelty, that’s what cruelty free means (is talking about animals we eat). You are mixing one thing with an other totally different just to confuse people, decieve with this stupid argument trying to pull shit on vegans. don’t you have some better to do post some more informative shit if you care so much about people been exploit go do something about it but don’t mix something that we eat cruelty free with greedy corporations, companies and industries that exploit people not just them government and religious bastards.
    If people is exploit is because they are willing to do hard work for the money they need to survive because we leave under this monetary sistem wich slave us all.

    • Ruby

      Cruelty free means cruelty free… it doesn’t seem like anyone has to try to confuse you. Children are exploited & abused to make Your vegan foods. Many many animals die because of forests being cleared to plant more crops, animals die during the harvest of the plants. Sooo no food is cruelty free. Plants are alive. They react to pain. They curl their leaves when burned. They can be put to sleep using the same gasses that put us to sleep. Some Plants are intelligent enough to shut down their entire root system if they detect herbicides.
      Because YOU can’t hear them scream then it’s ok… at least meat eaters usually kill & cook their food. Y’all eat your food while it’s alive and dying!!!

      • Guada

        Plants do not feel pain; pain and fear are two feeling only beings who can move VOLUNTARILY feel. Talk about what you know.

      • Dylan Wentworth

        “Plants are intelligent enough…”
        You’re watching too many animated Disney movies.

        If you’re taking about glyphosate-resistant plants, that’s got absolutely zero to do with intelligence and everything to do with an altered EPSPS enzyme that the herbicide doesn’t bind to to block the production of fatty acids.

        Perhaps the confusion is because you live on another planet???
        Here on earth, plants don’t have brains or a central nervous system.
        They don’t think and they don’t feel pain.

        And yes … we usually.., most of us …do not eat raw living plants.
        Maybe you’ve heard of spaghetti? Its what’s on the menu here tonight because I forgot to marinade the tempeh before work. Neither are eaten live out of the ground. Not that anything is wrong with that as eating foliage like a deer or koala bear would leave the plant alive in most cases. I sometimes ready berries and fruit from living trees that would otherwise two to three ground and be eaten by insects.
        I will have some steamed veggies too that have been harvested, cut, washed and shipped across the country.
        I’m going to pour a meat sauce over it made from dead tomatoes and textured vegetable protein from dehydrated and very dead vegetables. I’m going to involve onions that were dug up from the ground and some mushrooms that were most likely grown in a controlled indoor environment.

        These misconceptions people have about us are kinda hilarious.

        • JohnnyHaze

          I’m vegan, and I agree with your comment, but one note: koalas are not bears; they’re marsupials.

      • Robert Rodriguez

        I know all that fucking bullshit don’t need your (smart ass ) to expaling it to me. Think I’m dumb as you already know all this shit. When I say cruelty free I was only talking about meat there is to much shit to talk about cruelty that I don’t need to explain everything to dumb people that don’t get the point so fuck off yes I’m a hater.

      • Robert Rodriguez

        And no body confuse me I’m not stupid get the point, other people may.

      • Robert Rodriguez

        Soooooooo whaaaattttt fuckingB

  • FrostyLED

    How would you know if the chocolate I’m eating isn’t fair trade? Many conscious eaters know what they are talking about, many even grow their own food! WOW what a concept.

  • Guada

    The difference eessential: cashews can be produced cruelty free, meat can’t

    • Anne Marie Duhon

      Yes meat can. we do it on our homestead and I know many who do the same. It is possible. Just most people are too lazy to do the work and would rather going to the store where meat is a package not an animal. People in general like the easy cheap way.

      • Dylan Wentworth

        Sure you just wait for the animals to die of natural causes before you butcher them, right?

        • Anne Marie Duhon

          Nope but their death is a quick and humane death. matter of fact I just dispatched 10 chickens today and have 30 more to go. The birds live out their lives doing all things chicken and one day I walk in pick up a bird and 30 seconds later it is meat. Normal and natural and a lot better than say the way a coyote kills or a skunk.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            There’s nothing humane about killing animals for food.
            Non-native Gallus spp. that is bred and exploited solely for mass production of food , and is not even found in nature and doesn’t need to even exist. It’s not part of the food chain and is not natural the way a wild animal would kill another wild animal.

            If you replace the word “chicken” with “human” you should realize how silly you sound.

      • Guada

        Tell me how. I was raised in a ranch, I know what I m talking about

        • Anne Marie Duhon

          tell you how what? If you were raised on a ranch as you claim you know that animals can become meat in a quick and humane manner. I am not talking about slaughter houses but homestead slaughter of which we have done all our adult lives. No I was not ‘raised” on a ranch but I am a farmer. Our pigs die in mid bite of the most tasty treats, the cattle don’t even know that they are going to die we shoot them on the hoof in the field (my version of ‘hunting”) chickens and rabbits go for a wee little walk with me I thank them for their upcoming sacrifice and off with the head No fuss no muss. Plants no more “want” to die than animals and honestly plant ‘death” is more brutal than any animal we have killed.

          • Guada

            So in your opinion playing the sniper is cruelty free

          • Anne Marie Duhon

            I can not think of a LESS CRUEL way. The cattle are not “stressed” by being moved to a facility or by our presence. The cow is happily munching away on whatever grass she/he likes and one second it is eating the next it is dead. No cruelty whatsoever! Heck the other cattle don’t even flinch and when we get to the dead one it usually has a mouth full of unchewed unswallowed grass. QUICK and instant. That is cruelty free. Cruelty is herding a bunch of cattle into a stock truck driving them miles to a slaughter house that reeks of death running them down unfamiliar shoots and a stranger sending a bolt thru their heads. Not a quick stress free death at all. I’ll take my way over the “conventional” way every day.
            Oh by the way keep the comments coming I am having a blast here! You claim to have been ranch raised but your lie is showing!

          • Guada

            It is killing

          • Anne Marie Duhon

            Wow now that is a logical argument! I have never denied that I kill my food. I think I have mentioned killing something in EVERY ONE of my posts. So do you. You kill plants to eat Everything dies to feed something else. My whole point in playing with you is that EVERYTHING in life dies at some point. And every living thing is sustained by the death of another living thing. so unless you eat plankton and amoebas you can not exist without the death of some things on your hands. Life is cruel period.

          • first last

            Plants don’t have a central nervous system which can feel pain. Animals do.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            yeah, trolling is great fun, isn’t it?

            I’m curious how you stumbled upon this article in the first place.

            May your impending heart attack be just as cruelty free.

      • first last

        While the actual raising of the animal may be “cruelty-free”, killing an animal for food is NOT cruelty-free.

  • DavyPaul

    Only buy Fair Trade goods?

  • Deborah Harris

    WRONG. The diet is CRUELTY FREE. I’m not at all impressed with this article as Dr. McCormack is making an apples and oranges comparison. Vegans proclaim their diet is ‘animal’ cruelty free. The operative word, vegan, implies ‘animal’ issues not human ones. However, most vegans do support fair trade, ecological sustainability, and ethical responsibility and accountability toward the planet and all sentient beings.

  • EP_2012

    Yeah, so…. “vegan food” is sometimes violating someone’s rights. Non-vegan food always does.

    While I personally make every effort to buy fair trade or outright avoid products that are likely to be harvested by slave labor, I also realize that non-vegans (representing up to 98% of the population) is purposely going out of their way to buy cruel products.

    Why isn’t more attention being put on them?

  • Mark Caponigro

    It’s certainly true that the total vegetarian diet followed by vegans cannot be called “cruelty-free,” esp. so long as the only criterion is that the OK foods are plant-sourced. It should be recognized, by vegans and everybody else too, that (1) the cultivation of specially prepared lands that agriculture has historically required of course means the destruction of wild ecosystems, so that many wild animals have already been inconvenienced, to say the least. As for the present cultivation of plants, (2) that very often involves aggressive and deadly behavior (e.g. the spraying of pesticides) on the part of farmers, directed against small animals who wish to eat of those plants. Then (3) there are the small animals who inadvertently are killed in the course of the production of plant-sourced foods. Then (4) the transportation of plant-sourced food products can contribute greatly to the climate crisis, which is going to be the cause of more and more deaths of animals.

    Nevertheless, these four considerations by no means discredit the vegan project. It is still far preferable to avoid complicity in the direct exploitation of animals for food (and other, non-food products or uses). And the concern of vegans, allies and fellow travelers who do so deserves to be praised and encouraged. So the only thing that this amounts to is that vegans should not be smug and unthinking, and say that their dietary decision is “cruelty-free.” These people are misinformed about the nature of their own species.

  • DF

    well F*ck yeah, what a great serving of humble pie. Thank you for cooking this piece up. And yes, Donald Watson’s original definition of veganism does include – between the lines – that it’s a process. We are the process.

  • Good to know that we can care about humans as well as non humans, eh? #crueltyfree as far as practicable and possible.

  • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

    This article does not take into account the fact that most Vegans are extremely aware of these exploitation issues and that’s exactly why we purchase fair trade produce (like coffee, tea, chocolate… You name it), and use cruelty-free, chemical-free, GMO-free, slavery-free, contamination-free products.

    Vegans are very conscious of all these unfair, disrespectful, and unnecessary ways of living in modern societies, and we strive to do as little damage and harm to our environment, to our Nature, to our planet Earth as we possibly can.

    Vegans do not only think about nonhuman animals!!!! Veganism is a philosophy of life, a way of living with the least pain and cruelty possible, with compation for all Nature and its creatures, with peace and love for everything that surrounds us.

    You can’t be Vegan and not to extrapolate these sentiments and this deep connection that we feel for nonhuman animals to everything that exists (the trees, the water, the rivers, the air, the rocks and mountains….).

    You can’t be Vegan and suggest that Vegans limit themselves to caring only for nonhuman animals. If you think like that, you definitely don’t understand what to be a real Vegan is.

  • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

    VEGANISM is an “invitation” to all humans to protect our planet, our species, our future and the future of all life that exists and thanks to which we exist.

    Perfection may not be possible (perhaps not even desirable or necessary) but striving to be well informed and, consequently, better and more intelligent (compassionate) humans IS POSSIBLE, IS DESIRABLE and, most importantly, IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

  • Alejandra VeganGonzalez

    This article does not take into account the fact that most Vegans are extremely aware of these exploitation issues and that’s exactly why we purchase fair trade produce (like coffee, tea, chocolate… You name it), and use cruelty-free, chemical-free, GMO-free, slavery-free, contamination-free products.

    Vegans are very conscious of all these unfair, disrespectful, and unnecessary ways of living in modern societies, and we strive to do as little damage and harm to our environment, to our Nature, to our planet Earth as we possibly can.

    Vegans do not only think about nonhuman animals!!!! Veganism is a philosophy of life, a way of living with the least pain and cruelty possible, with compation for all Nature and its creatures, with peace and love for everything that surrounds us.

    You can’t be Vegan and not to extrapolate these sentiments and this deep connection that we feel for nonhuman animals to everything that exists (the trees, the water, the rivers, the air, the rocks and mountains….).

    You can’t be Vegan and suggest that Vegans limit themselves to caring only for nonhuman animals. If you think like that, you definitely don’t understand what to be a real Vegan is.

    *******

    VEGANISM is an “invitation” to all humans to protect our planet, our species, our future and the future of all life that exists and thanks to which we exist.

    Perfection may not be possible (perhaps not even desirable or necessary) but striving to be well informed and, consequently, better and more intelligent (compassionate) humans IS POSSIBLE, IS DESIRABLE and, most importantly, IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

  • Chris Richards

    Cashews and chocolate aren’t generally marketed as vegan, they just happen to be vegan the same way apples and carrots happen to be vegan. Specifically vegan substitutes for non-vegan foods are sometimes referred to as “cruelty-free”, and you’re correct in saying it’s not an accurate claim. There are many examples – some vegan food contains ingredients like palm oil, the collection of which is devastating to orangutan populations, for example. And there are countless others, where “cruelty-free” is intended to mean in the sense that animals weren’t intentionally harmed or killed to produce them. So it’s a fair point, in the same way “clean energy” isn’t necessarily clean, it’s just cleaner than some other forms of energy. I suppose if it’s something non-vegans can use to say, “aha!”, then I agree with the article. There are really very few things that are truly “cruelty-free”.

  • JG

    I think both sides can agree, it would be a huge step up for our species, to be guaranteed that our chickens didn’t come from a reenactment of the Spanish Inquisition. Push for a treatment grading system (low to high cruelty) so that even if you can’t find the discipline or interest in the average person to become vegan, we can all look down our noses at people who buy from high cruelty facilities, gradually edging the torture chambers out of existence. Public regard can do a lot to change a company, if only due to loss of profits. Vegans, help us mere mortals progress from monstrously cruel meat, to less cruel meat, to less meat, etc. That is where you’re most needed. Be realistic about the average person’s ability to suddenly convert, and ease them into thinking less-cruelty slowly until it becomes second nature. One day they might wake up vegan if you approach it right.

    • JohnnyHaze

      For those “mere mortals” out there:

  • Hiruni

    We don’t live in a vegan world, its’ still run by greedy unenlightened, uncompassionate human beings. Certified vegan products are also sourced ethically. So until there’s a vegan world yes there will still be issues, it’s not a vegan problem it’s a problem of this world

  • Pete Moss

    I take offense to “But if we really take seriously the idea of living in a way that minimises harm…” I’m a staunch abolitionist – we don’t aim to minimize harm, we work to abolish it, period, or else we are just pro-factory farm animal welfarists that don’t care where their food comes from unless the living organisms (including people) have suffered less than what they could have! When we talk about cruelty-free food, we must also look at the lifestyles of the people that sell the products that we buy. Are they vegan? If not, we are not actualizing our vegan world and must support vegan-owned businesses that as long as they are true vegans will not exploit people or animals along the way. Giving our money to other vegans means our money stays with vegans and will be spent ethically.

  • Ed McArthur

    The meat industry is cruel, but that is a different issue to that of eating meat which is natural to human animals Humans eating cows or sheep is no different to Lions eating deer or big fish eating little fish. Vegetarianism and to an even greater extent veganism is a white middle-class fad and the Vegetarian Society has a very dark history. It is totally impractical for most of the world.

    The case for vegetarianism is purely based on the practices of the meat industry, if we are talking about free range the case evaporates From an ethical point of view better free rang meat than battery eggs or processed vegetables .

    The problem with vegetarians and vegans is that they are self-righteous, they impose their diet on their children and even on cats and dogs, the latter is cruel abusive and harmful .
    The problem with vegetarians and vegans is that they are self-righteous, they impose their diet on their children and even on cats and dogs, the latter is cruel abusive and harmful .
    and as is pointed out cruelty to humans is often ignored by vegertarians and vegans

    • JohnnyHaze

      It’s “natural” to cook meat??? It’s “natural” to feed dogs and cats meat that they can’t kill in nature (picture a cat taking down a bull, for instance)?

  • Vincisomething

    So are there known companies that treat their workers well so we can further support their business?

Meat Is Not the Problem

Meat is not the problem, all animal products are the problem.

There is no going “a little bit vegan,” even if Yale adds more vegan options

A University is going to supply what it’s dollars..er..students demand of them.

Mercy For Animals Opposes And Promotes Animal Exploitation, Somehow.

Someone who actually promotes veganism promotes only veganism.