For a while now, and from a distance, I’ve watched vegans getting equally outraged or defensive over the other’s decision about whether or not to eat at McDonald’s.
When I went vegan (and even vegetarian for that matter) I stopped buying McDonald’s food for the simple reason that I didn’t like the food. It wasn’t until watching the documentary ‘Food Inc’ and reading about factory farming that I decided that eating vegan options in McDonald’s doesn’t align with MY vegan principles.
At this point I feel I need to say that I don’t agree with the idea of making people feel bad about eating there simply because it’s unhealthy. It offers no insight to voice that opinion, and if someone wants to eat some unhealthy food – I know I do sometimes – then that is their prerogative. We all have ownership of our own bodies, and are free to do what we like with them as long it isn’t affecting others.
The second, and possibly more valid point defending a decision to eat at McDonald’s, is that it’s no different to buying products from any other store that sells animal derived products. In fact it’s argued that by creating a demand at these places for non-animal products, we are providing the food industry with details of what the consumer market demands thus increasing the production of vegan products at the expense of animal products.
My main issue with this second point is one of pure principle, and what my major objection to McDonald’s is.
The McDonald brothers and their business model were key players in how we now consume fast food. They were all about cheap food, produced by cheap labour. This food revolution was a major factor in creating the factory farms we have now. Factory farming was one of the main issues that first brought my attention to animal activism. To continue to support McDonald’s simply flies in the face of this awakening.
The human population’s conditioning towards carnism has left us blind and numb to the plight of the animals, and if McDonald’s is allowed to remain in business it will surely hinder the breaking of the cycle of animal abuse. Again, that could be said about any supermarket or non-vegan restaurant, however the symbolic nature of the fall of McDonald’s would be huge… for me anyway. Watch “Food Inc” or at least this short clip, and allow your curiosity to look into it more. It’s hard living in a non-vegan world, and compromises have to be made, for now, but McDonalds is an easy one I will not be making.
Having reached this conclusion a few weeks back, I’ve tried a couple of times to offer this view in groups on Facebook. I don’t normally enter into too much confrontation, especially on social media, as I very rarely see that much, if any, good can come of it. I’d much rather spend my time trying to reach out to omni’s, or ‘bad vegans’ as I call them. Having ignored this normal restraint I was amazed at the instant and angry rebuttals. The irony of being shot down by fellow vegans for trying to offer an opinion as to why I think we should abstain from something for the benefit of the animals we all fight for on a daily basis was lost on most with the opposing view. It will certainly make me conscious to be more considerate when someone is offering an opinion different from my current position. It makes it difficult to see how we, as a movement, a group, as individuals, can be good advocates spreading a message when we are so quick to dismiss each other.
It’s only made worse by some of the counter arguments:
“What if you’re not lucky enough to be able to find any other option?”
I call bullshit on this one. Unless using an animal derived swear word is unvegan, in which case I call nonsense.
If you’re privileged enough to only have the option of eating at a McDonald’s, then you’re kidding yourself that if you looked beyond your periphery you wouldn’t find somewhere that would sell you a banana or a bag of chips. To use McDonald’s cheapness or convenience as an excuse, especially when suggesting that it’s a privilege or luxury to be able to have more options to hand, is to offer up a classic omni ‘headline’ rebuttal for not adopting a plant based diet.
Again, it’s not about health or food quality, or even employee conditions and pay (although I think that is more of an issue in the USA than here in Aus) It’s that McDonald’s were a leader in creating factory farmed conditions for millions and millions of poor living creatures who deserved so much more.
I will always eat hot chips – I’m English, it’s one of our things – but even if I hadn’t eaten for a day, was stuck at a truck stop with just a couple of dollars to my name, and was craving just a bit of warm food (let’s face it, that’s as dire as it will get when you might be tempted) my money will go elsewhere.
I always maintain that not only was going vegan the best decision I have made, but was also one of the easiest things I’ve had to do. For me it was like a switch when it happened and I suddenly didn’t have any need or desire to consume anything after I had learned it came from an animal. That being said, there are times when it causes inconvenience, but let’s face it, not one of us has met a vegan who was motivated to the dietary choice for ease of lifestyle.
If you have an itching to get some McDonald’s fries or some satisfying hot and un-nutritious food (that isn’t a criticism, I’m eyeing up a big bag of salt and vinegar chips as we speak) just walk past the place that brought (and continues to bring) so much pain and suffering to so many living souls. Make the imperfect decision and get some oven fries from the supermarket or go find a kebab shop and hope they have a separate fryer for their chips – and if they don’t then just suck it up and go without!