Daiya Foods was purchased by an international pharmaceutical company, Otsuka, for $325 million last week. Otsuka tests on animals. As in vivisection.
When I heard the news, my immediate reaction was to say goodbye to Daiya forever and to switch to Follow Your Heart, a truly vegan company. And I thought this position would be clear to vegans. Boy, was I wrong!
Immediately I began to see vegans celebrate the news: ‘This is great for the movement, Daiya will be available in more markets, this proves that veganism is working.’ I forgot how tied into capitalism this social justice movement is. I forgot how many vegans think that animal liberation is going to come from the almighty dollar.
And then it got ugly. Vegans who were upset by this news, and said they would boycott Daiya, were attacked mercilessly. And with the same language that non-vegans use against us: ‘you purists, you hypocrites, you’re too militant, you shop at grocery stores, go to non-vegan restaurants, drive cars, use computers, your vegetables kill field mice,’ and on and on.
What? All because some of us don’t want to support a company that tests on animals?
Vegans aren’t allowed to follow our own ethics anymore? Only the loudest and most vocal of us get to have opinions on the issues of the day?
What’s with the title of my essay? Most of you know my wife and I have fostered several dogs from animal testing labs, including our own boys, Frederick and Douglass. Sadly Douglass passed in April 2016 because of a heart condition (he had too much love for one little heart). Frederick is still with us.
Just two days ago, we brought a new foster into our home. She most likely came from a laboratory in China and was sold to the meat trade before she was rescued by Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. She has never lived in a home and everything, I mean everything, frightens her, including me.
Frederick has PTSD. He spent his first five years in a lab, being poked, prodded, and worse. He had never spent a moment outside, never played with toys, was never pet or loved. We don’t know the horrors he experienced, but the results are present.
This is the reality of animal testing. This is the reality of Daiya selling out to Otsuka.
Having raised these dogs, and known dozens more, I have seen this reality firsthand. And they are the lucky ones. In the U.S., it is believed that 61,000 dogs are used in laboratories each year, and tens of millions of other animals as well. Those animals never make it out of the labs; they are summarily killed. These experiments are brutal. They can and do last years.
One can make a case that selling out to Big Ag is different. In a nonvegan world, we can’t avoid being touched in some way by the meat industry. That’s just a fact. But one can avoid the animal testing industry. In fact, it is vulnerable. More and more consumers are moving towards cruelty-free products every day.
Do I take this issue personally? Hell yes. I don’t see how anyone could meet these two beagles, see their tails wag despite the fear in their eyes, and still berate me because I won’t support a company that tests on animals. It doesn’t make me a hypocrite to boycott Daiya, in fact, it would make me a hypocrite if I did not.
We are all allowed a viewpoint, even if it differs from the mainstream vegans who shout loudest. My dog barks louder than any of them.
March 5, 2019
That last line really got me! Of course, the fact that I was listening to “Say Something” while I was reading it may have contributed to the emotional response 😉 But really great article!
April 6, 2020
Hey Gary 🙂 Long time!
Just wanted to chime in and let you know that Follow Your Heart isn’t a *totally* vegan company since they serve dairy in their restaurant and dairy products in their store. It’s something that has always bothered me. I thought by 2020 they would have gotten rid of the dairy but I was just there a month or so ago and they’re still serving it.
Anyway, hope you’re doing well!