Choosing vegan is at its heart a matter of “voting” with your dollar. Every vegan purchase made (and every Nonhuman Animal product avoided) is a political statement and economic resistance. Boycotts pressure companies to yield to public concerns, while purchasing ethical products encourages companies to cater to new customer demands. But I’ve found that a trip to the grocery store offers lots of other opportunities for advocacy from the front entrance to checkout.
1. What’s in your cart?
Many times my cashier picks up on my lifestyle through the items on the conveyer belt. Recently, one cashier eyeing my tofu, Boca patties, and assorted vegetables asked if I was vegetarian. I said no, that I was actually vegan. She mentioned that she was a semi-vegetarian, but wasn’t so sure about veganism. I was able to wave a hand at my bounty bouncing down the belt and stated, “Look at all the food I eat!” While I’m not given much time at checkout, she was still able to ask lots of questions. She stated that she would definitely be giving eating vegan a try.
2. Dogs for sale
Something I do without fail at each grocery trip is stop and check the community bulletin board. If I see any flier announcing puppies for sale, I take it down immediately. I don’t want to make it easy for breeders (a euphemism if you ask me) to make a business out of sexually exploiting dogs and selling their pups like commodities. This is especially aggravating to me because our community is not No Kill and most dogs are “bred” for hunting other animals. I’ve also considered defacing these fliers with a message about the fate of dogs in our kill shelter.
3. Who’s Selling Outside?
Many times there are non-profits and other organizations outside the store selling something or other or asking for donations. If it’s the Boy Scouts, you may want to inform them that you are vegan and you don’t consume Animal products…and neither do you support organizations that discriminate against homosexuals and atheists for that matter. While the Girl Scouts are more inclusive (and now have a vegan cookie), you may want to explain why you won’t be buying their products either. And the Shriner’s Club selling circus tickets and hot dogs…well…you get the idea.
4. Hiding Products
PETA used to sell stickers to put on products containing Nonhuman Animal flesh that read something to the effect of: “WARNING: This product contains a tortured animal.” I’ve never used these myself and I’m pretty sure doing so would be illegal. An alternative, however, is that sometimes it’s especially convenient to hide some products. When I was 14, my first job was in a grocery store and I routinely hid the mouse traps.
5. Request It
Something I didn’t know about until I worked in the produce department of another grocery store in college is that customers can special order just about anything. We handled the “natural foods” and wines as well as the fruits and vegetables–folks special ordered things like mangoes and special wine all the time. Disappointed your grocery store doesn’t offer seitan, tofu, or vegan wine? Grab the produce manager and place an order.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons