Tag Archive: ethically sourced



Eating animals is wrong, vegans say. But so is eating slave-made chocolate, or wearing sweatshop clothing. Guess which one vegans of the Global North care about?

Not that one issue is more important than another, but it is more than frustrating when I see vegans (mostly vegans of the global north) say “this is cruelty-free” about products made from human suffering. Vegan chocolate cake made with trafficked child labor? Mmm, delicious

I wish vegans would demand fair trade/ethical goods, protest the prison-industrial-complex, or fight against food deserts as much as they put effort into getting vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

What prompted me to write this was a series of exchanges I saw on Twitter, where white vegans from western nations were admonishing people of color for eating animals as part of their cultural identity. Continue reading


Image of workers cleaning and sorting pineapples.

Source: Consumers International

Here’s a quick post on the situation in Costa Rica about pineapple union workers and exploitation they face: Banana Workers’ Strike Highlights Abuses by Corporations in Costa Rica

Consumers International also has a case study on pineapples, which investigates working conditions in the pineapple industry and its impact on communities and the environment in Costa Rica.

As a consumer, what do with this information? Do you choose to continue to financially support exploitation because it’s more convenient? Do you search for alternatives, or give up whatever it is? When you know better, do you do better? Let me know in the comments.


Green America: Guide to Ending SweatshopsToday’s post comes from Green America, a U.S.-based non-profit dedicated to creating a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. I wanted to highlight the list they’ve compiled on the sweatshop labor that makes the shoes you most likely wear:

Footwear can be one of the trickiest parts of building a
sweatshop-free wardrobe. Hundreds of shoe companies have shifted their operations overseas in recent years, and many have little or no oversight for their supply chains.

We used two of Green America’s online tools (ResponsibleShopper.org and GreenPages.org)
to build this list of “leaders and laggards” in the athletic-shoe industry. Click the links on the company names [t]o learn more about the conventional companies at Responsible Shopper, or to find the green
businesses’ listings in the Green Pages.

See the list at Green America: Sweatshops: Sneakers, Leaders and Laggards (Summer 2008).


A chard leaf surrounded by text,

A chard leaf with the caption, “Local and Organic Chard Can Be Delivered using a Smartphone or Tablet…But was it made possible through gentrification, farm-worker exploitation, or racial injustice?”

Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper, a senior research analyst/strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions (CDS) and intersectional food justice theorist, writes about the gap between tech innovation, venture capital funding, foodie culture, and labor/human rights:

Most people who are into mainstream ‘foodie’ culture care more about their food being ‘local’, ‘fresh’, and ‘organic’ than if the food came to them through the abuse and exploitation of farm workers and other marginalized human workers in the food system.

Many foodies actually think organic and sustainable mean the treatment of human beings and non-human animals is ‘humane,’ which is false. What would be great to have from Blue Apron is a statement that acknowledges the need to be more critical about horrible treatment of human workers.

So far, such statements are no where on their site, however, once
again, it could very well be that investors do not want to appear to be ‘too political’ and prefer to be ‘post-racial’ and ‘post-class’. Yes,
their focus is not farm-workers or other food industry worker rights.

However, the silence around this is quite compelling because the fact is, foodie-tech start-ups could not exist without the human laborers in the food system.

However, I’m still always fascinated by the fact that millions of dollars can be poured into foodie-tech apps by venture
capitalists when food justice activists working in/for the poor and
communities of color, with hardly any resources, struggle like hell to create food security and/or sovereignty for themselves.

Read her full post over at her website, The Sistah Vegan Project.

7/30 UPDATE: Check out her update here, where Dr. Harper announces her theme for next year’s food justice conference.


Felled trees evoking the fate of the earth's rainforests as they are cut to make room for palm plantations

Palm oil tends to be in everything these days. Back before exploiting it was this profitable, palm oil used to be demonized as being unhealthy, filled with the “bad fats” people should avoid. Times have changed now that palm oil can be produced cheaply through bulldozing Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests.

Read more on why you should avoid palm oil: Say No To Palm Oil | Whats The Issue.


T-shirt with the phrase "vegan because all lives matter" written

Image of EVOLVE! Campaign’s t-shirt depicting several types of animals, with the caption, “Vegan because all lives matter”.

This post’s title, “Vegan Because Black Lives Matter,” is my response to the t-shirt design promoted by the vegan group, EVOLVE! campaign, shown on the left. (It has since been removed from their group). The t-shirt depicts 8 different farmed animals surrounding the text “Vegan because all lives matter.” Before I explain what the title means (I know you’re curious), let me provide some context.

I’ve written before about why veganism is relevant to the discussion of sustainability. In that post, I laid out ethical, empathetic, and utilitarian reasons for why avoiding animal exploitation is necessary for a sustainable future. I implied, but didn’t say explicitly, that “animal” includes both human and non-human animals (we usually try to forget that we are part of the animal kingdom). As such, a truly vegan life avoids exploitation of human and non-human animals (e.g., no dairy milk from repeatedly impregnated cows; no strawberries picked from undocumented, brutalized farm workers; no chocolate picked by enslaved children).

Which gets me to the second half of this post’s title. Continue reading

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