Veganism vs. Freeganism

It has been said that just because you’re a vegan doesn’t mean that you’re living an ethical life. A cruelty-free life; yes. But an environmentally conscious, organic, fair trade, anti-consumerist, localist, ethical life; maybe not. Or at least that’s the way freegan’s see things.
 
Freegans are people who take the idea of living an ethical life to the extreme. The vast majority of freegans are vegans, however, a small portion will eat meat so long as it would otherwise go to waste. Employing such measures as dumpster diving, plate scraping, wild foraging, shoplifting and bartering to access food for themselves. Freegans don’t stop at unconventional means of accessing food; they also employ ‘free’ ways for accessing housing, clothing and mobilizing themselves. All while minimizing their level of employment.
 
Through these practices freegans are protesting the rampant over consumption in our society as well as illustrating the astronomical amount of food that is wasted on a daily basis.
 
So does this mean that being vegan is no longer enough? Well, that depends on your definition of what it means to be a vegan. For some people, not eating meat, dairy and eggs is enough. Others eliminate animal products from their clothes, personal hygiene and home cleaning products as well. Advocating animal rights and being against animal testing are a given. And judging from the blogs, websites, discussion forums and information materials it would seem that being vegan means so much more. Vegans are concerned about the environment, they oppose over consumption and multi-national corporations. But vegans also have homes and jobs, commuting daily, buying their food from local shops and supermarkets, living a modern, Western life. And participating in the capitalist economy as workers and consumers.
 
The life of the freegan is unattainable for the majority of Western society. And if everyone were to adopt the same lifestyle, the resources would quickly run out and the system would deteriorate.  However, the beliefs and ideals they support are something we should all consider. When shopping, choosing items with the least amount of packaging. This could mean talking to your local shops and asking them to stop individually wrapping the fruits and vegetables unnecessarily. Always carry a reusable bag with you, educate yourself on why plastic bags are so hazardous. Once you understand fully you’ll never take a plastic bag again. Buy a water filter so that you have fresh, clean water coming out of your tap and you no longer need to buy bottled water. Shop locally, try to buy thing that originate in your community of region and shop in season. Both of these options will prevent excess carbon from entering out atmosphere, as there’s no long haul journey for our food to make.
 
Vegans are already accustomed to seeking out pleather shoes, fining fancy footwear that hasn’t cost a life. Taking this cruelty-free idea one step further to incorporate all of your clothing. Buying fair trade items that were made with natural fibres. Buying clothes made of such things as hemp, bamboo and cotton is utilizing a renewable resource while minimizing the artificial, processed materials your skin comes in contact with.
 
Reusing bath/shower water to feed the garden or lawn. Cycling or taking public transport where possible. Buying into a car co-op where it’s not. Getting a library card to stop you buying books. Or if you can’t stop buying books, look into bookcrossings.com where you can release your books into the wild for someone else’s reading pleasure. Removing animal products from your diet and lifestyle is no longer enough to claim a cruelty-free existence. The amount of abuse and misuse our world suffers, all vegans and non-vegans alike should exercise cruelty-free environmental and economical practices as well.
 
If being freegan is taking things too far, then is being vegan taking things far enough? The only person who can answer that question is you.

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