I was all set to write a rant about this obnoxious article when I got home later (warning, it will probably make you mad and gross you out- it’s about trendy hipster chicken farming and slaughter), but then I actually went to work. I saw a family this afternoon who only got to eat dinner last night because of someone else’s kindness- and they had to split this plate meant for one between the three of them. This is what it’s been like for this family since the mom lost her job a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t much better before then.
I had a list of local soup kitchens and pantries to give them, and hopefully they’re able to eat tonight. It makes me want to come home and cry when I see stuff like that. I like to complain about my bills, but I eat every day. I got to buy nice clothes last week and I go to an elite school where I may have to take out student loans, but am training for a profession where I should be able to pay them back without extreme hardship. In other words, I’m lucky. Or blessed. Or a number of other things- grateful being one.
Where does veganism fit into this? When people challenge us and say that veganism is expensive, we’re often quick to point out that it can be done very cheaply, when relying on whole grains, beans, legumes and vegetables. Well, not everyone can afford those- but their canned and other shelf-stable counter-parts make excellent donations to your local food pantry. So go out and donate. Call first to see if they have specific items that they won’t take or have a specific need for. Most pantries will only take canned and dried goods that are packaged (e.g., they won’t take beans from the bulk bin or fresh or frozen produce). There’s an awful lot that we can donate that stays within our own ideals about food and animal compassion. Beans, lentils, peanut butter, rice, pasta, spaghetti sauce, cereal, canned fruits and veggies and 100% fruit juice are all foods that happen to be vegan that most food pantries need. Many pantries will take anything that’s non-perishable, but I would check before bringing things like shelf-stable tofu or soy milk. It’s not that people are ungrateful, but it can be really intimidating to have tofu be your option for dinner when you haven’t eaten all day and you have no idea how to prepare it or if you’ll like it. Though, I’ll bet things like Chocolate Silk would be well received, especially for the kids.
People often donate food at the holidays, which is great, but there are other people out there who are hungry all year. So go out and donate- your food, your time, your money- whatever you’re in a position to do and feels comfortable to you (if you do donate money, it could go to the purchase of animal products, but it also might be going to the general cost of running the pantry). Do it because it’s Wednesday. Do it because you ate today. Do it because there’s a certain injustice in being able to make all these delicious vegan recipes that appear in vegan food blogs when there are others who eat nothing. Do it because if you didn’t eat it was because you were busy or chose not to. Do it because I saw a family today who was in need of food on a warm day in June.
If you’re not in a position to do so right now or are in need of food yourself- that’s what your local food pantry is for. Pay it forward when you can.