Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Raising the environmental footprint of veganism… November 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 4:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

Fake Plastic Fish reports that PETA is promoting plastic wishbones for Thanksgiving.

Ugh. The company says they are recyclable, but like most plastic items that are technically recyclable, I am sure most communities in the US won’t have the facilities to take these, even if people were to actively seek to recycle them.

It’s not like I don’t partake in plastic-wrapped cookies & things (which I hate — most of our garbage can is full of plastic wrappers, I think). Though I do make an effort to avoid things like individual plastic cups of pudding or yogurt (I can make the former, & could make the latter too, I suppose — at least with yogurt I try to buy the massive containers, which can at least be re-used for food storage or for planters etc. so at least a teensy bit better, I suppose).

It does bum me out, though — a lot of go-vegan rhetoric* is focused on showing that we can have the same heavily packed, heavily processed food as omnivores: fake beef jerky, individually wrapped! Packages of marshmallows! Microwaveable dinners in plastic trays!

There’s something to be said for convenience, of course — & like I said above, I certainly end up buying things wrapped in plastic. I just wish it wasn’t so inevitable sometimes. (& really, while no one “needs” individual servings of vegan yogurt, definitely no one needs a freaking plastic wishbone!)

Yeah, yeah, I know the average environmental footprint of a vegan will be much smaller than an omnivore. That doesn’t make me feel much better about knowing that plastic I use today will outlive me many times over. It’s disgusting.

(I don’t know what’s up with my posting flurry either, btw!)

* In the US/UK, at least, which is where my experience is from. Thank you to commenter Soj for reminding me that of course, this is not a universal experience.

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11 Responses to “Raising the environmental footprint of veganism…”

  1. justinsplace Says:

    All true. Being a vegan from my experience is about also being creative, not just in the kitchen, but generally, and using a plastic wishbone just removes the cruelty, whilst still being engaged in the ‘game’ on some level.

  2. Mo Says:

    PETA just likes pushing buttons! I have a negative amount of respect for them because they’ve done so much idiotic crap that the respect I already didn’t have for them…lessened. Ha ha.

    I guess my big question is what is the point of those things? Maybe it’s me, but I’ve never known anybody who missed pulling a bone apart so much that they had to mimic it year after year. What’s wrong with snapping a twig in half? That twig has as much magical wishing power as any plastic bone.

    Sorry, PETA makes me grumpy. :)

  3. Beth Terry Says:

    Thanks for the link to Fake Plastic Fish. The other thing I didn’t say in my post is that I can’t understand why a vegan would even want to mimic breaking a bone from a dead animal. That is truly an anathema to me.

  4. Soj Says:

    “a lot of go-vegan rhetoric is focused on showing that we can have the same heavily packed, heavily processed food as omnivores”

    Hi there, first time commenter here so if I step out of bounds, please feel free to admonish me or delete this.

    I think there’s a missing piece of information here, which would be “as omnivores in the USA and a few other countries”.

    I live in Romania and the majority of people here are omnivores but DON’T eat heavily packaged or processed food. Killing your own pig for Christmas is still a very common tradition, as is making your own wine and growing your own vegetables. That includes city folks (and I live in a city) because everyone has relatives in the country.

    In other words, I think there’s TWO issues here – one is adhering to a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons that boil down to a healthier self and a healthier planet and the SECOND issue is the “simulated USA food lifestyle”, whether that’s pre-packaged fake jerky or a wishbone or what have you.

    Myself I’m a raw food person and it drives me nuts that while looking for recipes, most of the ones I find from the USA (which is where frankly most info comes from on this) is all about exotic imported berries from China or what have you (which are delivered of course inside little plastic bags). What it ends up boiling down to is everyone’s food comes from some kind of factory in a neat little box whether it’s a Big Mac or raw cocoa from Coite d’Ivoire.

    That lifestyle of “packaged, processed” food is in itself an unhealthy step and leads to a disconnect between people and their food. Carrots come from the ground absolutely covered in muck and dirt yet unless you grow them yourself (in the USA) you’d never even know that. And that’s just one small example.

    I think that disconnect is actually VERY important because it is what enables people to be so indifferent to animals and their suffering. Seeing a thin slice of meat on a sandwich (or a few chunks in a soup as another commenter mention) seems to be a “eh, so what” because the food itself seems to come from some magic, far-off place.

    A person has to actively be conscious of the entire process to realize that once upon a time a real, breathing animal was caged, injected and then slaughtered en masse then the bits molded, shaped and formed, shipped and frozen then thawed and fried to get to the bits in my hand. That’s hard. That’s as hard as seeing Nigerians gunned down by paid Shell guards in a land far away as resulting in a gallon of gasoline going into a car’s tank.

    As I said, I’m a raw foods person but I have a lot more tolerance and respect for my friends who slaughter their own pigs because they have a direct connection to where their own food comes from. What they eat doesn’t come in a shiny styrofoam tray but as a result of a knife and squealing and all the rest.

    I actually benefit from those people because they likewise have a direct connection to the fruits and vegetables and nuts as well – I get my produce from the local market and I buy it from the people who actually grew it and harvested it and yes there’s mud on the table (Romania has a lot of root crops) and some of the apples have worm holes and the whole thing.

    And yes I see delicious pineapples flown in from Costa Rica and wish they could grow here but hey, life ain’t perfect ;) But to me it seems much better on a HOLISTIC level to buy food that’s grown here under conditions which I know about (bc I can ask the growers directly) and absolutely no plastic involved whatsoever, except for my shopping bag which is of course re-used a thousand times.

    I guess my point is that in terms of a “footprint” on the Earth, I’d rather people be like my pig-raising and eating friend than someone munching on a shrink-wrapped tofu “jerky” that’s trucked or flown in thousands of miles.

    Just my 2 cents and again, if I stepped over any lines, please feel free to put me in my place without any hard feelings on my part.

    • johanna Says:

      Hi Soj — thanks for your comment! I agree, what I said was unintentionally framed as referring to the US (where I’m from) or the UK (where I live now) or other similar countries in the West. I will correct the post to note that. Apologies for that.

      I have a friend in the US who once took her nephew (at about age 4 or 5) into her backyard garden & was telling him how they were going to pick out some peppers to cook for dinner… & the kid was like, “Why do you have a store in your backyard?” because that’s all he understood about where food came from. Sigh.

      I agree on the beauties of local fruit & veg & being able to ask the grower about conditions (especially in countries where ‘organic’ is a legal term — I know back home in NYC there were lots of farmers at the farmers market growing organic stuff who could no longer legally call it organic b/c the cost of being certified was too expensive, but b/c you can talk to them about how they grow you can figure this out & buy from them). And yes, of course, the beauties of no packaging!

      Anyway — all that to say thanks for calling me out on the unconscious centering of the US/UK.

  5. itstartedwithafish Says:

    Being from Germany I have never, even in omni days, broken any wish bone, – and I am still alive.
    I can only say, – what a STUPID thing to make (the plastic bone replica) and how utterly idiotic to support that.

    But that is PETA for you, right?
    Gosh, the more I learn about them, the less I “feel” them..

  6. Swayze Says:

    Yes, here in the US, many people gone vegan are just as guilty of waste as those SAD eaters. What’s the point of eating whole, fresh fruits and veggies when you can eat packaged gluten-free waffles, vegan cookies, and soy ice cream? ;)

    Now that I eat raw, I barely waste at all. The only thing left after my breakfast/lunch meal is between 12-15 banana peels. Plus, no energy wasted boiling gallons of water for whole wheat pasta! :)

  7. Joselle Says:

    Some really great points have been brought up in the comments.

    What really bothers me, however, is that I wouldn’t be surprised if PETA was contacted by this wishbone company and were probably paid by the company to have this little contest. Reading the company’s “About” page, I read that they are not a vegan company trying to fulfill a vegan’s desire to break a wishbone (WTF!?). The company was started because the founder was so distraught there was only ONE wishbone to break at the Thanksgiving table and wouldn’t it be great if everyone could have a chance to break this bone! http://www.luckybreakwishbone.com/ourstory.php

    This company and its product was inspired by a mutilated and roasted turkey carcass. That it’s also being marketed to “vegetarians,” (according to the company), is just an afterthought to make money!

    PETA. GRRRRRRRRRR. They cannot connect any dots. This is not a vegan product. This is a total waste of resources. It’s like plastic vomit or the singing bass. It’s a total novelty that has nothing to do with honoring animals. And really, who is clamoring for a damn wishbone? What’s next PETA? A plastic replica of a roasted pig with a plastic apple in its mouth? Please. That’s what I need for Christmas.

    • Carol Lipton Says:

      I find this a very enlightening discussion, to examine the “vegan footprint”. I cook a great deal of my food, and I see many vegans in NYC whose diet consists largely of restaurant or vegan fast & prepared foods. Health food stores have an enormous array of packaged products, and virtually all vegetarian/organic and vegan food companies are owned by large agribusinesses.

      One of the biggest problems with adopting a vegan lifestyle if you live in an urban or cold climate, and walk on pavement, is that wearing vegan shoes, boots & clothing largely involves a cultural investment in petrochemical products, virtually all of which are extremely toxic when manufactured (harming workers and residents nearby), are not recyclable, and produce greater toxins when burned, as made amply clear on 9/11. These chemicals are mostly established carcinogens- reading any of the alternative health cancer or environmental materials & studies gives the stats.

      Wearing plastic shoes is not healthy for the body, or for posture, and that’s a fact. I have never tried hemp shoes, but I once tried wearing espadrilles, and the result was intense back & neck aches. In the long wrong, wearing shoes made from plastic materials is damaging to the environment and will result in musculoskeletal problems.

  8. […] veganism vs. consumption EDIT Dec 12 10:03pm EST: this post on vegansofcolor expresses what is one of my concerns in the following post. […]

  9. […] as Renee: the treatment of farm workers (as well as slaughterhouse workers); the sustainability of veganism; PETA (there have been so many posts slamming PETA on this blog I can’t even link them all); […]


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