Episode commentary from Episode 5 of Do Fries Come With That Convo
I’m so tired of these “cruelty-free” advocates.
Because honestly, the phrase “cruelty-free” is bullsh*t. There’s almost nothing that’s without some form of cruelty these days.
Here’s what I know…
Just because something is vegan and not tested on animals does not mean that the product is “cruelty-free.”
Folks out here asking if their lotion was tested on animals but neglecting to determine if the women who produced the shea butter in that luxury body balm were abused and exploited.
Go with me for a second.
An article from Huffpo shared a story about the women-dominated shea butter industry said this, “It’s not just meager wages that befall these women. Since the industry isn’t regulated, women farmers are abused and beaten by local men.
Yep, you read that correctly.
A Ghanaian woman may have been beaten so that you could have supple tresses.
So what do we do? Look for the “Fair Trade” label then?
Sure, that’s a start.
But when we say “cruelty-free,” we’ve gotta look deeper.
Does that product contain plastic? Yes? Then, the ocean animals would not consider that cruelty free.
Does the brand or store you buy product from exploit undocumented immigrants directly or indirectly?
Has the land used to produce this crop fell victim to deforestation? Then, you’ve done a whole heap of harm to animals, plants, people, the environment overall and (in the long-term) yourself.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of deforestation then you need to be.
Pachamama.org defines deforestation as “the clearing, destroying, or otherwise removal of trees through deliberate, natural or accidental means.”
Pachamama goes on to say that:
As large amounts of forests are cleared away, allowing exposed earth to whither and die and the habitats of innumerable species to be destroyed, the indigenous tribes who depend on them to sustain their way of life are also irreparably damaged.
One of the most dangerous and unsettling effects of deforestation is the loss of animal and plant species due to their loss of habitat; not only do we lose those known to us, but also those unknown, potentially an even greater loss.
And the loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for indigenous people.
We know that meat production is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions—even above big oil.
But my dear vegans, don’t get too haughty.
We’ve gotta take a hard look at the impact that soy is having on the environment as well.
The Guardian reported that “since 1996, when the government authorised the introduction of genetically modified soya bean, Argentina has cleared nearly a quarter of its native forests. Much of that newly cleared land has been turned over to the soya bean crop that has been critical to Argentina’s cyclically ravaged economy. ‘Argentina is in a forest emergency,’ says Natalia Machain, director of Greenpeace Argentina.”
So what can we do?
1. Start by limiting soy. It’s in everything it seems, but if you commit to less processed foods, you’ll limit your overall soy intake. (And yes, there are a lot of crops negatively impacting the environment, but let’s start somewhere).
2. Ask questions of the brands you support. And support for organizations that are at least trying to do good holistically.
3. Before you scoff or turn your nose up to someone who has not learned as much as you or not committed to veganism in the way that you have...remember that plastic-bottle conditioner with shea butter that’s probably in your shower caddy right now. Or that tofu slab you’ve got soaking in marinade for dinner tonight.
4. Be thoughtful in your actions and less critical of others. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to be patient with yourself as well.
5. Commit to doing better. Because that’s when you do your best.
For more, listen in to Episode 5 of Do Fries Come With That Convo podcast.