Inquiry - Is Animal Exploitation Vegan?
This is just something to think about.
Several weeks ago, my partner and I were discussing whether or not chocolate that contains cocoa from the chocolate slaves of The Ivory Coast is vegan or not (outside of its possible milk content; just assume that it's dark chocolate with vegan sugar). I wanted to argue that chocolate that comes about as a result of slavery is not vegan because it involves animal exploitation (which in this case is of course also human exploitation). That’s what made sense in my mind.
We all know that veganism, rigidly defined, is a designation primarily indicating one who does not consume animals or animal products. This often extends to avoiding the use of animal products that come from the killing (or sheering in the case of sheep) of animals for clothing and fabrics. One might even extend this designation to food processes that use animal parts for processing. I think that we are most likely to oppose such things for the arbitrary or senseless use of these exquisite creatures rather than the trace amounts of animal tissue that linger in the final product. Either way, vegans likely oppose processing of this kind, and associate it with being vegan.
The present inquiry flows conveniently then out of this final unweaving of the ways we use the term “vegan”. To put it simply, is the opposition of animal exploitation, outside of consumption and killing, part of being vegan? Or is it just something that one is more likely to care about because he or she is vegan. It seems to come from the same place of me, and the same ethical foundations and logic as my veganism; however, it doesn’t involve consuming part of an animal, except perhaps sweat. Bringing it back to my original quandary then, is the consumption of slave chocolate acceptably vegan?
What do you think?
i do not think that animal exploitation of any kind is vegan.
the tricky part is hat there isn't often a clearly defined line as to what includes animal exploitation. avoiding animal ingredients is easy peasy, but to take in to account anything that gets exploited along the way? not very easy. our society is so built on exploitation of animals/humans/even land that to take part in our society is to (at least partially) take part in that exploitation.
my purposes as a vegan are to reduce our exploitation of animals with the hope that one day we will not base our society on such things. one can only hope.
Most vegans are ethical eaters, so if they knew it was slave derived they probably wouldn't eat it.
So if slave-derived chocolate is not vegan, then what about tomatoes in Florida grown by poverty stricken illegal aliens that are abused by corporate farmers?
As sort of a parallel, I am thinking about how farmers used to use, and sometimes still use animals like horses in place of farming equipment to grow vegetables.
Obviously you are not going to give a horse a salary, but if it's well cared for, worked reasonable hours, and given good living conditions and room to run/graze/explore in its free time, then I would be OK with buying and eating those vegetables. Animals do like to work, they are happiest when they have jobs. However, if it was overworked or not cared for properly, then I would not support that farm.
Same goes for humans I think, though on top of what I said about horses, people obviously also deserve enough money to provide their families with food, clean water, and shelter.
So, if the people producing cocoa are not given fair working conditions and a fair salary, then I think that product is definitely not ethical.
I think the product would still be considered "vegan", but buying or consuming it with the knowledge that the workers are exploited would be hypocritical and unethical.