Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vegans are eating all the quinoa off the plates of Bolivians!

I hesitate to share the article because I'd rather not give them more traffic but it makes sense to show what's annoying me before I rant about it.  This op-ed piece appeared on The Guardian website today and it's pretty poorly written to say the least.  Now I can talk, but then I'm not a writer by trade.  While this article is an opinion there should still be some integrity/fact checking involved right?  I hear people saying The Daily Mail has gone down the tubes and I'm starting to think The Guardian wants to follow swiftly on it's heels.

Image from Huffington Post

Seriously? Vegans are eating all the quinoa and starving Bolivians?  All 1.5% of us worldwide?  We aren't the only ones who eat quinoa by the way and can we eat that much of it considering some very rarely eat it if ever because it's not that cheap and we vegans are not all wealthy (contrary to Blythman's supposition) .  Also, as vegansaurus has already pointed out, this is old information.  The prices of quinoa have been rising in Bolivia for a while now and other news outlets (Time and NPR) already reported it as news more than a year ago.  I don't think that should mean that we dismiss what is happening to Bolivians and their available foods but this has happened and is happening to many people around the world.  This is a world problem.  Something we should all consider and take action on.  And the soy commentary.  What is up with that.  I've been correcting people on this for ages and the misinformation still goes around and around.  All that soy that is growing in South America is not for tofu!!!!  All this beef that everyone insists on eating means that cattle need more feed and what are they eating? Corn and soy.  On that same point during the entire time that I've been eating soy in it's various forms it's actually only been US grown soy.  Even better when I lived in Vermont we bought Vermont organic soy from Vermont Soy.  Of course not all vegans can buy local but you can bet that most of them (US based anyway) are buying domestic.  This piece reads like it was paid for and not as in weekly pay check kinda paid for.  But then reading the author's other works and we find that this isn't the first vegetarian dig and it all reads the same.  Maybe she's just feeling overly defensive about her dietary choices.

The truth of the matter is that this isn't an article informing anyone about an issue.  This is an article to catch vegans out.  This is a piece to attempt to punch holes in ethical veganism.  No doubt a few people will latch onto it and think "yeah, vegans aren't so great after all."  To them I will say this:  Veganism isn't about being perfect.  It's about doing less harm.  It's about compassion.  It's about doing the best we can for ourselves, everyone we share the planet with (humans and nonhumans) and for the planet itself.  As we learn we adjust more behaviors as we can in the best way we can.

What should we do about the quinoa issue?  I don't really know but I have some thoughts and they aren't particularly complicated ones that I'm sure anyone can come up with but no doubt people with more money and monetary interests will say that it is more complicated than this.  Anyway, start by buying fair-trade and organic.  If you must buy quinoa these are ways to at least do what you can to ensure the growers are properly compensated for their crops.  Shouldn't we expect and hold our governments accountable to take care of their people?  Shouldn't some of a country's crops be held back locally for the local population?  it may be a simplistic view but I find it just ridiculous that farming communities are reduced to hot dogs and ho-hos.  No I don't find it ridiculous, I find it bull shit.  But then I find poverty bull shit.  There is no reason that it needs to continue except greed and cultivated apathy.  That's another rant for another day.