|Enewsletter • May 21, 2003|
Follow-up: Soymilk Encounter of the "DOH!" Kind
My mention of 8th Continent Soymilk in the last Vegan Spam brought in more letters than any other edition in the past year. The most pressing comment was that the Vitamin D that is added to the soymilk is derived from animals (it is Vitamin D3, as opposed to D2, which is derived from plants). This might be a good opportunity to write to the company and ask them to make the product acceptable to vegetarians (see postscript).
Other letters took Vegan Outreach to task for endorsing a product that is “offensive” in other ways. These complaints ranged from the soymilk’s sugar / chemical content and the possible use of genetically modified soybeans, to one of the parent company’s animal testing and the evils of multi-national corporations. Let me tell you why I don’t think these concerns should prevent us from promoting a soymilk.
I had heard from a number of people that 8th Continent Soymilk was by far the best, but it was family friends that prompted me to try it. This non-vegan family of four, for whom I had cooked many times, had tried every other kind of non-dairy milk I could find in Pittsburgh. One day, they told me about 8th Continent, and that they are buying it for themselves now, instead of cow’s milk, because of the taste.
Some may argue that the Earth would be better off if they went back to drinking cow’s milk. While there are people who argue that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a greater threat than industrial animal agriculture, I have seen no compelling evidence for this. Various environmental tragedies have been “right around the corner” for decades, but have never materialized. The Earth only matters as much as the suffering and pleasure of its individual creatures. I’m not willing to have dairy cows and veal calves suffer – and that is what will happen if people are told they can only drink organic, additive-free, small-company soymilk – so I can take a symbolic stand against hypothetical environmental nightmares.
No matter what we argue, the vast majority of people aren’t going to give up their status quo, support communal, not-for-profit local farms, and eat only non-processed whole foods.
Contrast this with the outcry against any vegetarian endorsement of the BK Veggie, and the pre-emptive strikes against McDonald’s McVeggie (see also this article) and it would appear that many vegetarians don’t want to be joined by anyone from the masses. They would rather have it their way.
Although we will not promote 8th Continent Soymilk as “vegan” because of the vitamin D3, we would much prefer that people concerned with taste drink a non-organic soymilk from a multinational that contains D3, rather than continue to drink cow’s milk. In fact, we don’t know that avoiding the small amounts of D3 in fortified foods alleviates much suffering; it may very well be that vegans should not publicly worry about D3 if we want to do the most good.
Unless human nature changes drastically, most people are going to continue doing what is relatively convenient. This is the bottom line: we can argue, in isolation, for our view of vegan purity, or we can encourage concrete steps that will prevent suffering.
I wrote the following letter to the folks at 8th Continent with hopes of making them aware of a potential market:
To which I received the following reply: