Vegan Shopping: A moral crisis?

Welcome Reader,

Today we are blogging about an issue the Paws ended up discussing earlier, almost by accident. If we are vegan, is it in some way wrong, or immoral, to shop in regular shops, and buy products from manufacturers who aren’t solely vegan?

Just to be clear, this isn’t a problem revolving around the chance of ignorance, or mistake. We are talking about knowingly shopping in a shop where we know there are non-vegan products stocked, and where our money is likely to be taken and used for non-vegan purposes.

We decided that, rather than trying to transcript our conversation, or recreate some kind of interview scenario, we’d just post our conclusions, and hope to create a conversation with our readers that way. As such, please feel free to engage with this post in the comments, or on twitter @earthlovingpaws. All we ask is that you refrain from the use of abusive or offensive language if you don’t share our opinion – Paw the Love of Earth is all about having a POSITIVE impact.

Initially we were very quick to say that in an ideal world, of course we would not buy from non vegan shops, because in an ideal world all shops would be vegan! We laughed.

But, utopia once again put to one side, it did seem preferable to avoid non-vegan shops. We didn’t want to endorse animal industries nor fund them, either directly or indirectly. Equally, if we support veganism ideologically, then it follows that to do this sincerely, we should also support the individuals and businesses that make the vegan lifestyle viable for those who can’t support themselves.

However, it became clear the situation is not so simple. In a broadly-capitalist world of analyses, of data trends and market shares, it seems that the power of one’s wallet is increasing. In a global world of social media, of freedom of speech and international reach, it seems that the power of one voice is stronger than ever. Potentially…

At it’s heart, we believe that promoting veganism needs to be about education. We believe that if we help educate people about simple things – like where their food comes, the cost that food has to their bodies, and the health of the planet, and all the many benefits of the various alternatives – then they have the free choice to make positive changes in their life, whatever the reason.

Therefore, for us, it’s perfectly acceptable to shop vegan at non-vegan shops. We reason that not only do these shops help us access vegan products that we might otherwise struggle to source, and potentially transport them from their place of origin more efficiently and environmentally soundly than a smaller, all-vegan shop might be able to, but our purchase is also being logged in their figures and findings. Mainstream shops continuing to identify a need for vegan products can only be a positive thing, and if our purchases help identify the trend of a growing demand, then that will help protect vegan producers, and ensure that veganism is more than a fad to be shared in the tabloids, but a tangible and profitable¬†way of life for a significant number of people.

Adopting the mentality that small steps are still progress, and are the birthplace of big changes, does it really matter why the stores are choosing to sell vegan products? The company who owns the store might earn more money with this strategy, but it’s equally true that a plant-based¬†diet can be cheaper than a meat-based diet.To us, its no different than the woman who chooses veganism to help her lose weight, or the child who tries not to eat meat or cheese because he visited a petting farm once and made a connection with a cow.

To our minds, the end result is that one or more stores are selling vegan produce that weren’t previously, and as a result are facilitating the education and possible transition to veganism of at least some percentage of their customers. Whatever our idealistic notions of an all vegan utopia might be, there’s no denying that this still DOES save lives, and it DOES still reduce our resource consumption as a population. It still DOES represent a positive shift, and one that has already born fruit in the fields of organic and wholefood produce (to name but two examples). With help, it will transition into a brighter future for those living on this planet, all creatures great and small.

In closing, we’d like to take a second to make clear that we chose veganism as the subject because of our real life conversation, but feel that our argument is equally applicable for a number of similar lifestyle choices, including vegetarian food, or eco-friendly/ethical/sustainable consumer lifestyles.

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to contribute below or @earthlovingpaws on Twitter.

The Paws

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