“F” Is For Freegan
I’m devoting this next piece to any and all of my Vegan readers. You know I had to get there eventually…
Veganism, as defined by the Vegan Society, is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. A vegan, one who practices veganism, doesn’t consume or use animal products, notably meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. People become vegans for a variety of reasons, including ethical concerns for animal rights or the environment, for the perceived health benefits and for spiritual or religious concerns. Polls have variously reported vegans to be between 0.2 percent and 1.3 percent of the U.S. population.
The term “animal product” in a vegan context refers to any material produced from animals for human use. These products include but are not limited to meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, honey, fur, leather, wool, and silk. Common animal by-products include gelatin, lanolin, rennet, whey and beeswax. Most vegans refrain from supporting industries that use animals directly or indirectly, such as zoos, circuses, and rodeos and won’t use products which are tested on animals.
Okay, not to be a wise-ass or anything, I understand the whole animal rights thing and Buddhist-type mentality. But explain to me how sheering a sheep for wool, harvesting honey from honey bees, getting silk from a silk worm or milking dairy cows exploits or hurts any animal. Eggs I can even understand. And I’m sure the food, health care and living conditions of these “exploited” creatures would be vastly improved if they were free to roam the Great Plains foraging for their own food and fending off diseases and predators, who I note are not Vegans.
Believe it or not there are left-wing and right-wing vegan factions. To go a step further to the left, let’s talk about Freeganism. “Freegan,” a combination of the words “free” and “vegan,” is derived from the observation that even a meatless lifestyle isn’t free of exploitation. A product’s “veganness” doesn’t necessarily guarantee that:
- Workers weren’t exploited during the product’s manufacture;
- Pesticides weren’t used in its growing;
- Non-renewable resources, like petroleum, weren’t used in production and transport;
- Rainforest wasn’t cleared to generate plantation land;
- Wildlife wasn’t harmed in its production or growth;
- Wasteful packaging wasn’t used;
Freegans argue people seriously committed to living a Buddhist wannabe “cruelty-free” lifestyle professed by vegans must strive to abstain not only from eating, wearing, and using animal skins, secretions (e.g. milk and its byproducts), flesh, and animal-tested products, but must strive to the greatest degree possible to remove themselves from participation in the capitalist economy altogether, as workers and consumers. Now that’s real practical!
Similarly to veganism, freeganism is a philosophy of living, community, culture, and an ideal. Unfortunately for most freegans, it’s almost impossible to be freegan in all ways at all times. I’m told many freegans are anarchists and identify with libertarian socialist ideals of voluntary cooperation and mutual aid, and place a strong emphasis on forging socially and ecologically sustainable communities…or should the word be communes. Didn’t communes disappear in the early 1970’s with peace signs and VW microbuses?
So basically, if it’s free range lettuce, grown on a commune by happy workers, who don’t use electricity, and didn’t cut down any trees for the fields, and let the wild animals and bugs take what they want first, then it’s okay to eat. What about all the weeds which were killed to clear the field?? Aren’t they living creatures? Are they relocated? Sounds like botanical prejudice to me. And what about the worms who are “accidentally” killed while tilling the fields? Don’t they have a right to happiness and freedom from errant spades wielded by Cum Baya singing anarchists?
Many freegans get free food by pulling it out of the trash, a practice commonly known as “Dumpster Diving.” Freegans find food in the garbage of restaurants, grocery stores, and other food-related industries, and this allows them to avoid spending money on products which exploit the world’s resources, contribute to urban sprawl, treat workers unfairly, or disregard animal rights.
How the hell did the food get into the dumpsters in the first place?!! Grown, picked and packaged by underpaid DDT-spraying illegal immigrants, trucked by 5-mile-per-gallon greenhouse-gas-spewing diesel big rigs, cooked and served by under-appreciated restaurant workers and ultimately dumped into a rat-infested dumpster. And what about the rats? Don’t they deserve to eat? Freaking hypocrites!!
Freegans claim by foraging, they prevent edible food from adding to landfills and feed people and animals who might otherwise go hungry. Many freegans claim they’re able to eat very well, and even avoid paying for food altogether. Many vegan dumpster divers come to embrace freeganism in order to utilize more of the thrown-out food they find, which would otherwise be wasted.
I wonder if there’s some sort of five second rule when it comes to dumpster dining? Just a thought…
Disclaimer: The author of the proceeding in no way meant offense to vegans or vegetarians as a whole. Dumpster diving, communal living, smelly (broad generalization), wild-spade-wielding anarchists…well, that’s a whole other thing.
Marc “Wiggy” Kovacs
Beef Eating Wool Wearing Capitalist
Ps: Broccoli is only good with melted cheese on it.