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.

Vegan Investing

question.gif - 1.4 K I am trying to be responsible and educate myself about how to establish financial stability for myself and my husband while we are still young. I know that the best way to put aside long-term savings for retirement is through the stock market. But none of the material I read about the best ways to invest in the stock market addresses the issue I face -- I want to avoid investing in companies that exploit animals. I know I could put a lot of hours into investigating individual companies, finding out their ethical as well as financial profiles, but I don't have a lot of faith in myself as a stock picker. I know mutual funds are the way to go for people who want to make sure their portfolios are diversified without doing a ton of research, but then you have no control over the companies in which you invest. Are there any brokers or mutual funds out there that specialize in addressing the concerns of vegans? Do their funds do reasonably well? Are my husband and I better off just stashing our money in the mattress?

answer.gif - 1.3 K How and where we invest our money can have a significant impact on social change in addition to affecting our personal finances. "Socially responsible investing" (SRI) is the catch-all phrase for integrating one's values and societal concerns with investment decisions. The notion of SRI grew out of the interests of religious institutions that wanted to screen out investments in alcohol and tobacco. The concept evolved in the 1960s and 70s when issues about war, nuclear weapons, nuclear power, civil rights, and women's rights raised awareness among investors. Objections to Apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s further solidified support among institutional and private investors. In the 1990s, environmental considerations attracted attention, stimulating investments in "green" companies. Today's top concerns are the environment, social justice, fair and nondiscriminatory labor practices, health, and animal welfare.

Financial advisors who specialize in socially responsible investing are scattered throughout the United States. They are accomplished in and well-versed about this ever-changing field and are best equipped to help you determine the wisest options for your particular needs. As with any financial decision, it is invariably prudent to discuss your needs with an experienced and knowledgeable professional you can trust.

In the past twenty years, socially responsible mutual funds have expanded tenfold. Many of these types of investments do quite well, but, as with any financial venture, there is always an element of risk. You and your husband will need to ask for and study the prospectus of each company, fund, or product to determine its suitability in light of your values. You will also want to discuss its history, stability, and potential return on your investment with your financial advisor.

Co-op America is a national nonprofit organization that helps educate Americans about shaping a better future through their purchasing and investing choices. Their approach is designed to do the following:

  • Educate people how to use their spending and investing power to bring the values of social justice and environmental responsibility into the economy.
  • Help socially and environmentally responsible businesses emerge and thrive.
  • Divert capital away from destructive uses.
  • Pressure irresponsible companies to adopt socially and environmentally responsible practices.

Co-op America maintains an extensive list of socially responsible investment practitioners both on-line and in their annual publication called the "National Green Pages." You can contact Co-op America at 1612 K St. NW, #600, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 872-5307. They also have an on-line investment guide that can be accessed directly at or you can e-mail them regarding socially responsible investing at Individual and business memberships to Co-op America include a free copy of the "National Green Pages."

Before seeking socially responsible investment practitioners, products, or services from organizations primarily devoted to SRI, be sure to ask about the ownership and commitment of the parent company or affiliated organization. In some cases, they may not have socially responsible investing as a priority. Also, some SRI products may not be vegan-friendly, even though they may be advancing positive change in other ways.

The influence of responsible investing is evident locally and globally, directly and indirectly. Your humane investment strategies will help encourage companies to take account of the social and environmental costs of doing business and foster an economy that works for the planet and all its inhabitants.

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