For many people, the terms “vegan” and “cruelty-free” are synonymous. After all, isn’t being cruelty-free a natural byproduct of being vegan? Well, yes and no.
Yes, to a large extent being vegan means actively pursuing a diet and lifestyle that is largely cruelty-free. This is because you make a conscious decision to avoid foods, products, activities, and industries involved in the rearing, slaughter, or subjugation of animals.
Despite this, being vegan doesn’t automatically mean that you are being cruelty-free. Since this is a bit complex to unravel, let’s break down the reasons why there is a discrepancy between the two terms.
Vegan Products May Not Be Cruelty-Free
These days, veganism is trending. This means that more and more companies are making an effort to ensure that their products don’t contain animal by-products, honey, beeswax, etc. Taking such precautions gives them the freedom to label their products as being vegan, thus making them more marketable.
However, these companies often fail to mention how they obtained various vegan ingredients and whether animals were harmed during the process. Also, many brands will get certain ingredients from third-parties without bothering to check if these have been tested on animals. Last but not least, companies can still label a product as vegan and continue to test them on animals.
The only way to make sure that your products are both vegan and cruelty-free is to do your research. Assess vegan and cruelty-free licensing sites to know what steps are taken to keep these companies in check. Or, if you feel that the company isn’t being transparent enough, contact them with a list of questions.
The Consequences of Harvests
Eating only grains and vegetables can seem like the most low-impact thing you can do. After all, no animals are harmed during this process, are they? Well, that’s not exactly the case. It is assumed that around 6 animals per acre are killed each year during the growing and harvest season. Wildlife may also be killed during these periods.
The problem, of course, is that this issue isn’t widely acknowledged or known. As such, most vegans aren’t aware that there is such a problem, let alone that it needs to be fixed. However, when considering how you get access to your grains and vegetables, you may wonder if there is anything you can do.
One thing you can do is be a bit more conscientious about how your food is grown. Opt for smaller farms that are aware of the problem and take the necessary steps to fix it. You can also counter this issue by growing certain foods in your own garden, reducing the need to buy it from large, chain-supply stores.
Deforestation Due to Crop Growth
Another thing you need to be aware of is where and how your crops are grown. Apart from cattle ranching, palm oil and soy are two of the biggest contributors to deforestation. In addition to trees being cut down, numerous habitats and animals are destroyed every day.
Thus, if you use oils or products that are sourced from such areas, you will end up being complicit in deforestation. The good news is that it is easier to avoid this problem. First of all, make sure to cut out palm oil completely or opt for ethically sourced kinds. If you want to continue with soy-based products, it is important to know where they come from.
Once again, this information should be easy enough to access. If you can’t get the answers you are looking for, contact the manufacturers directly.
The food industry doesn’t just victimize animals – humans face incredible mistreatment as well. For instance, did you know that it is estimated that around 2 million people are exploited worldwide by the agriculture sector? They may receive low wages, have to work in dangerous conditions or be held against their will. Child labor is also fairly common.
The solution to this is to once again work with smaller or ethical brands. Make it a point to check where the company gets its food or ingredients. Do they believe in safe and sustainable practices? Are they involved in Fair Trade practices? Do they make an effort to improve the community where the farms are?
Fortunately for you, a greater number of brands are pledging to make the necessary changes for their labor and workforce. Thus, it is a simple matter of finding companies that stay true to their word. At the same time, it is important to always keep track of how these companies are behaving.
Vegans tend to flock to superfoods like quinoa, acai berries, and anything else that is the latest trend. This, of course, is because vegans tend to compensate for a lack of meat and dairy in their diets. As such, they will look for foods that help them to make up for these deficiencies.
However, what you may have not considered about superfoods is where they come from. Superfoods may be a revelation to the Western world. Nevertheless, these foods have been consumed by indigenous cultures for centuries, perhaps millennia. These foods become trends as Western scientists unlock the true potentials of these foods.
So, why is this such a bad thing?
Well, the rise in superfoods has two main consequences. For one thing, the increased popularity and demand means that farmers in the areas that the superfoods may be grown will redirect their attention to these crops. Thus, there will be more land cleared and pesticides introduced to virgin lands to support the demand.
Furthermore, these crops become more expensive around the world. So, what was once a staple grain for indigenous cultures will suddenly become incredibly pricey. Due to this, these cultures will struggle to feed their families the way they used to.
As you can see, there is a world of difference between vegan and cruelty-free. Now that you know better, you can make the necessary changes to become both vegan and cruelty-free as well.
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