Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.

Finding Vegan Cotton

I'm shopping for pants and finding virtually everything (khakis, cotton dress pants, jeans) is now "pre-washed for softness." I'm aware that most consumer softeners are animal based, made from tallow. (Seventh Generation makes a great vegan alternative.) When I call the companies, I'm told someone will get back to me, but no one does. I was told by one company that their jeans are softened using pumice stone, but I'm not sure if that completely replaces the use of a softener. I am aware of some smaller companies that make fine natural clothing. Unfortunately, I find them best suited for particular settings and warmer climates.

Help! I've got to wear something! Is there a way to buy all-cotton clothing for men (other than sweatpants and yoga wear) and know that it hasn't had an animal bath? Or is this one of those unavoidable vegan compromise situations?

I can appreciate your concern about cotton clothing being pre-washed with nonvegan fabric softeners. However, if we thoroughly dissect the clothing industry, we discover many other important points that could be of concern to vegans.

For instance, cotton is typically grown in fields saturated with chemicals and pesticides, creating hazardous run-off, dangerous working conditions, and damage to the Earth. Picking and collecting cotton inadvertently injures or kills small animals and insects. If cotton is bleached, the process adds carcinogenic dioxins to our land and water supplies. Hauling cotton requires transporting it in trucks that pollute our air and contribute to global warming. The tires of trucks contain animal by-products and the roads they use caused destruction of habitat and native plant species and displaced wildlife when they were built. The employees at the plants where cotton is spun and woven into fiber and the factories where the clothing is sewn utilize equipment that, at the very least, requires animal-based lubricants. In addition, many articles of clothing are made in sweatshops in other countries where the labor force (which often includes children and minors) works painfully long hours in filthy conditions for dastardly owners who pay a pittance for wages. Finished items must be transported to various stores and warehouses or are promoted in catalogs that don't used recycled paper and which contain images that were photographed on gelatin-based film.

So, is cotton vegan? Yes, as much as anything can be vegan in our modern world. This is not necessarily a compromise. It is a matter of being realistic and reasonable in light of the resources available to us. It is easy to get caught up in and weighed down by the technicalities of vegan living. But, if we scrutinize the components of practically any commodity, we will undoubtedly discover something in its development or processing that is animal-based or otherwise nonvegan.

The key to vegan sanity is to refrain from over-analyzing, accept that vegan "purity" is unattainable, and realize that aiming for perfection is counterproductive. This does not imply that we toss in the towel and give up. It merely means that we must realign our priorities if veganism is to have any meaningful and lasting effect.

The purpose of being vegan is to alleviate suffering, not inflict more upon ourselves or others. Obsessing about minutia can drive a person crazy or even discourage vegan practice because animal products contaminate virtually every element of our culture. There is simply no escaping this fact if vegans are to participate on any level in our society. Therefore, vegans can be most effective by concentrating on the bigger pieces of the picture -- the industries that profit literally and most significantly off the backs of our fellow creatures. This includes all the sundry animal based food industries and their offshoots, such as leather and wool manufacturers. It also means rejecting commodities that overtly contain animal products or were tested on animals, and refusing to support organizations or industries that abuse, harm, kill, or otherwise cause suffering to sentient beings.

Your desire for "purity" is understandable, but the goal itself is presently impossible and will only set you up for failure and disappointment. Furthermore, if vegans become overly concerned about every trace of animal products, we could easily forget that it is the meat, dairy, and egg producers that are responsible for animal ingredients in the first place. Manufacturers that use animal by-products do so only because they are readily available from the slaughter industries and can be purchased more cheaply than alternatives. Therefore, if we focus our energies more on encouraging others to adopt a plant-based diet rather than on purging the last iota of cruelty from our personal cupboards and closets, we will have greater promise for a vegan world, have more hope for maintaining our own vegan lifestyle, and be models of kindness and compassion that others can realistically emulate.




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Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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The Food Allergy
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