Wednesday, February 6, 2013

If you eat chocolate, please consider this

If you're reading this blog, you probably know that ethical sourcing of chocolate is a big issue.  Child labor, and even slavery, have been widespread on West African cocoa farms.  You may be thinking, "But I only eat organic chocolate."  But an organic label, or even a Fair Trade label, is no guarantee that the chocolate was not produced with child labor or slave labor.  And many chocolate companies are very secretive about their sources, so it's impossible for outsiders to judge whether they are following ethical practices or not.

If you eat chocolate, please take a look at this list of companies that are are recommended and companies that are not.  There are many, many choices on the "recommend" list.  I am not suggesting you stop eating chocolate.  I'm suggesting you stick to the "recommend" list.  I'm also suggesting that if you currently use a product from a non-recommended company, you write to them and tell them your concerns.  Tell them you can't eat this product until they show they are at least trying to source their chocolate ethically.  I was disturbed to see that several companies loved by vegans -- Clif Bar!  Q.bel!  Trader Joe's! -- were unwilling to disclose their chocolate sources to activists.  What are they afraid of?  And then there are the companies that failed to respond at all -- including the Alternative Baking Company, which was a favorite of mine back in the days when I ate cookies, and Green and Black's, which I used to think of as "ethical" because they make organic products.  If you use products from companies that failed to respond, write to them and ask them to respond -- and stop using their chocolate products until they do.

Despite how you may feel when you're about to get your period, no one needs chocolate -- or cookies, or  convenience food, for that matter.  If you're vegan (and if you're not, why aren't you?), there's already a list of products you avoid for ethical reasons.  Is eating "vegan" chocolate produced with slave labor really more ethical than eating chocolate made with dairy?  Humans are animals too.  Children in particular are vulnerable animals who need our protection and care.

If you want to think more about these issues, you might want to participate in this webinar.  

These suggestions are relatively easy for me to take because I don't eat sweets any more.  Those Alternative Baking Company cookies were crack to me, and they had to go, along with all the other vegan goodies.   I don't want to sound smug, though.  I am able to do this because I'm in recovery, and I get a lot of help.  When I was in the midst of my eating disorder -- something that could happen again at any time, if I'm not careful -- I didn't give a shit about ethics.  Fair trade, shmair trade.  I'd certainly binge on vegan stuff -- vegan does not mean healthy -- but when I needed a fix I would eat anything sweet, whether it was vegan or not.  I wasn't able to live according to my ethics, and for me that is one of the worst things about this disease.

If you need help with an eating disorder, I suggest you go here.  To learn more about what it means to be vegan, go here and here.

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