Defending the kingdom | Issue 25

Defending the kingdom | Issue 25

Ninety nine percent is still an A+

More and more people are rejecting the “absolute” nature of veganism. The “all or nothing” attitude can be very alienating, and even put people off considering going vegan. And it’s difficult in today’s world as well. We aren’t growing our own crops, instead relying on the integrated markets.

Sometimes animal rights groups reject other groups that help animals because of ideological differences. However here at Otago SALDF we have a more pragmatic approach to the animal rights movement. We support anyone that helps animals. Period. And this is consistent with an emerging popular view on the appropriate manner of veganism.

Very few people exclude “trace amount” quantities of dairy or egg because of their vegan lifestyle. Even “radicals” PETA are less interested in “personal purity” than in sending a message to producers that there is a growing market for food with vegan ingredients. There is an argument that we shouldn’t be supporting industries that use animal products at all, if we truly want to be vegan. But there is a fundamental difference between boycotting McDonalds and boycotting New World.

Even “part-time” vegetarianism or veganism reduces the number of animals killed for our plates. There are bigger things going on than worrying about whether those Oreos may contain an undetectable amount of dairy because of the factory they were produced in. We’re lucky we aren’t in Europe, where pig bones and hooves are used to pave roads. Regardless of how committed you are and how deeply you care, it might not be possible to avoid using animal derived products entirely.

Lack of funds is not an excuse for continuing to consume cheap, cruel meat or eggs, because plant foods are considerably cheaper. With the right knowledge and resources you can even save a lot of money. But I empathise. Our flats are cold and damp. We have little money for heating. In these circumstances, it is okay to hold onto those waterproof leather boots you’ve had for years, that ancient woollen jersey or your old duck-down duvet or puffer jacket. And by all means, eat that cheesy pasta thing that would be chucked otherwise. You just don’t need to buy any more. No, you really don’t. I know wastage is a pretty permissible reason to detract from purity for a moment, when 20,000 children will starve to death today (sorry to depress you, but it’s the reality of the world we live in). What is more important is that you’re reducing your consumption of animal-derived products, sending a strong message to marketers, and influencing others into making kinder choices every day.
This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2014.
Posted 2:58pm Sunday 28th September 2014 by Elisabeth Larsen.