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The moral market: How a rise in ethical consumption pushed veganism mainstream

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Veganism and ethical consumption make consumers feel like they can make daily choices that can tackle an overwhelming issue, that of climate change or industrial scale factory farming.

ROSHINI NAIR: ‘Abstaining from meat has a long, rich history, with roots in world religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Today, in light of the growing climate crisis, vegetarian and vegan diets have gained new currency as the ethical choice by animal rights activists and environmentalists as a way to protest factory farming conditions and the industry’s carbon footprint. “People choose to make ethical consumption decisions most closely related to a desire to reduce their impact on the environment,” said Emily Kennedy, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, who studies ethical consumption.

Part of this ‘explosion’ in interest is fuelled by a larger societal shift about how we view our consumer choices. According to Kennedy’s research, the connection between personal shopping choices and ethics has heightened in recent years in tandem with a growing concern for the environment. Personal shopping choices now carry the weight of the planet in every transaction, she says. “You demonstrate [you are] a really ethical person by making moral choices through what you buy”…

Kennedy says there are two reasons for this shift. One, trust in the government’s ability to make change is declining. Two, people are short on time and making an ethical consumer choice at a grocery story is much more convenient than traditional modes of political activism like attending town hall meetings. Ethical consumption makes consumers feel like they can make daily choices that can tackle an overwhelming issue — that of climate change or industrial scale factory farming.

But using the power of your wallet to make social change has its limits. While going vegan has a positive environmental impact, Kennedy says it doesn’t have the same impact as more overt political changes like collective action or government policy like regulations to change how global supply chains transport goods, or how the way we raise animals’SOURCE…

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