By Kristen Johnson
It is impossible to claim to be an environmentalist, a vegan, and a human rights supporter without looking at one’s food choices. In spite of my adamant refusal to eat or use animal products, it’s also important to look at human suffering within the context of our food choices.
Food Empowerment Project is providing a way for all of us to learn about our food choices, and how those choices affect human workers, animal suffering, and the environmental consequences of our choices. Learning about my food choices has been unsettling to say the least, as I have been studying my food labels for at least a decade now to be sure that all my food is fair trade, free from animal products and animal suffering, and with (what I thought were my best efforts) to be free from human slavery and suffering. After all, if I am going to continue my work to fight human trafficking (particularly sex trafficking) then I’d better be darned sure that the food I put into my body is free from slavery.
Unfortunately, in spite of my best efforts, I discovered that I am breaking my own code of ethics. A link to some of the worst offenders in the corporate world on the Food Empowerment Project website has notified me that I now have to give up my most beloved Diet Cokes and Coke Zeroes. (My one nod to the unhealthy world and I have to give it up!) Unfortunately, they are one of the worst offenders as far as environmental and worker’s rights, they abuse their workers, and they are anti-Union. For more information, see here: http://www.foodispower.org/ethical-food-choices/. Unfortunately, my only other beverage choice (Vitamin Water) is also made by Coke……so those have to go too. I guess it’s time to embrace Diet Pepsi.
Luckily, I have discovered that the other big offenders (Nestle and palm oils) are not currently residing in my kitchen. And, I am happy to report that (after reviewing the labels carefully) the protein bars I eat are made with ethically produced chocolate. (Chocolate production is oftentimes horribly abusive to workers, particularly to forced child labor.) To check on your chocolate, see here: http://www.foodispower.org/chocolate-list/
Thank you Food Empowerment Project for the wonderful work you to do help the public live a more compassionate life, free from human and animal abuses. I am proud to be a new supporter. I will also proudly begin writing letters to Coca-Cola to challenge their current business practices. (And, yes, the minute they change their ways, I will “vote with my wallet” and buy Coke again!)
Isaiah 1:17 (NRSV): learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed; defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io