ANIMAL-FREE VEGAN COMPANIES ARE STILL IN THEIR BIRTHING STAGE
What this means is that for many companies to get up and running they need to use the factories that other companies use to manufacture their goods that do contain animal products. They basically rent out the facilities, thus the common labeling of possible and/or traces of allergens – among them animal products – on their animal-free vegan goods.
There are very few animal-free vegan companies that build their own factories. Most simply can’t afford the cost. So until such time that the demand for animal-free vegan goods increases to the point where they can stand on their own, I accept that there may be traces of animal products in the animal-free vegan products that I purchase. They can clean the equipment between uses, but it’s nearly impossible to wipe out all traces of what was previously manufactured on the same equipment.
My criterion for animal-free is that the recipe itself contain no animal products.
If my French fries that I order at a restaurant are fried in the same oil that chicken is fried, I will eat the fries. The demand isn’t popular enough for restaurants to have essentially two kitchens – one for animal-free, one for animals. For me to refuse to eat out, doesn’t make any sense, since evolution takes time, and my presence at a restaurant ordering an animal-free dish matters. It shows the chefs, the workers, the patrons that I want to eat there, but I don’t want any animals in my food.
There’s not a magic wand we vegans are going to wave, whereby one day we wake up and all manufacturing companies and restaurants suddenly decide to convert their manufacturing plants and eating establishments to animal-free vegan – and then instantly follow through on it.
Veganism is spreading more rapidly than in the past, still, the way restaurants are currently responding to that trend is by focusing more on vegetarian (including eggs and dairy) than on all vegetable/plant-based.
There’s a Chinese restaurant I go to where the chef makes tofu – to date about eight different ways. Delicious! with many different sauces and combinations of vegetables and fruit. He of course has a full animal-based menu. For me not to eat there because he cooks animals would be counterproductive to the movement. Chefs evolve just like everybody else, and often meet resistance from those who want to hold onto their traditional ways of cooking. If there aren’t enough vegan customers to keep them in business (which there aren’t), all the restaurants will go out of business. And then where will we be?
Then there’s the grocery stores. If I won’t shop at a grocery store that sells meat, I won’t eat, because there aren’t enough of them that are totally vegan.
That will all change, but in the meanwhile I’m going to be part of that change, by supporting animal-free vegan companies that may have traces of animal products in their animal-free vegan goods, because they can’t yet afford to build their own factories, and I will eat at animal-based restaurants that care enough about my business to make me a delicious animal-free meal.
Although we’ve come a long way, we are still in the birthing stage of making our dreams of a cruelty-free planet a reality everywhere. Giving up because we’re not yet there is not an option I give myself.
The animals need us at every stage and juncture of the evolutionary process to free them.