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Disclaimer Summary: I've spent countless hours scouring resources to present the facts on these pages. Whether you choose to believe them or not is up to you...

Veganism is linked to every area of our lives, whether or not one is a vegan. It's surprising to the majority of people because of the wealth of misinformation that exists, and an equal amount of misplaced trust. It's hard to make unbiased decisions when you aren't aware of the connections between the industries and companies you support. We tend to trust corporations until something goes wrong, and even then it seems more important to prove undeniable guilt rather than acknowledge we might have actually been lied to.

I have made my decisions on whom to trust based on personal research, analyzation, common sense, and gut feelings. While it's impossible to offer a 100% guaranteed black and white list of who is telling us facts and who is telling us self-serving convoluted half-truths, I can offer a starting point from which to do your own research and make your own decisions.

Perhaps the most convincing point for me was discovering "front groups", which are created by the Public Relations departments of large corporations. These are groups of "experts" who are given responsible names, like The American Council on Science and Health, and through funding from said corporations find the "right" information to disseminate to the public. They also find the "wrong" information and try to debunk it. For example, American Council on Science and Health, defends petrochemical companies, the nutritional value of fast foods, and pesticides. What you're not told is that The American Council on Science and Health is funded by Burger King, Coca-Cola, NutraSweet, Monsanto, Dow, and Exxon, among others.

Front groups are staunch defenders of the "rights" of Americans, such as the right to smoke (The National Smokers Alliance); the right to pay more for less health care (the Coalition for Health Insurance Choices); the right to choose large, fuel-inefficient cars (the Coalition for Vehicle Choice); and the right to dismantle ecosystems for profit (the Wise Use Movement). Front groups portray themselves as champions of free enterprise -- strongholds of fairness and common sense – an image that helps their PR products get circulated in influential circles.1 Corporate-funded scientists have one goal, and it isn't your safety.

The next time you see a Got Milk? ad, ask yourself why huge, multi-billion-dollar companies who profit from the sale of dairy products and calcium supplements think you need more calcium.2 Then see what studies (not funded by the meat and dairy industries) have to say about dairy and the increase of osteoporosis.The same can be said for the California Milk Advisory Board and their conscience-soothing "Happy Cows" campaign. These corporations not only survive, but prosper due to misinformed consumers. Whether we accept these claims based upon tradition, our lack of personal research, indifference, or hearsay we are still accepting lies.

I get most of my information from reading. Books like Affluenza and Diet for a New America provide some shocking examples of how Americans are blatantly lied to in order to ensure that it's business as usual for corporations that sell dangerous products. Perhaps the saddest misconception is that safety and well-being are important enough that government and corporations would place these above profits. Nope. As a consumer you are only as important to a company as how many dollars you spend on their products, and you can not trust claims of safety from the company producing the product. Take the time to do your own safety research. Find out where the dietary recommendations are coming from, and who they're financed by. Be ready to feel like a sucker when you find out that the majority of "nutritional information" in public schools (the ones that demand large amounts of daily meat and dairy intake) are provided by none other than the meat and dairy industries. Amazingly, our tax dollars subsidize animal agriculture, buying surplus meat and dairy, paying their water bills, and giving out free grazing land. Our thanks is heavily discounted meat and dairy that is sold in public school cafeterias, enforcing the "nutritional" messages students hear in classes.

Another example happened in the 1920s when leaded gasoline (ethyl) was promoted. The mission was to boost both automobile performance and the profits of General Motors, DuPont and Standard Oil. These allies soothed and massaged the American public's justified fear of leaded gasoline by performing health effects research in-house, with precedent-setting approval from the federal government. Word from the corporate labs was, "no problem" even as factory workers making ethyl were dying by the dozen.3

There's no way to say it without the possibility of sounding fanatical. We're being lied to every day for the simple pursuit of money. I don't trust much of what I read or hear unless it's from sources I feel are reliable. While the vegan-related things I fight against (most obviously the meat and dairy industries) have millions of dollars in funding to unethically prop up their products/positions, the things that I believe in (namely, a plant-based diet) do not have such wealthy proponents. There are no front groups for soybean farmers, no purchased scientific studies to support the benefits of vegetables. This is why I find is easier to believe facts obtained from vegan-specific organizations than those from mainstream corporations and even governmental bodies. I don't believe the opinions of vegan organizations can be bought (or that there is anyone to buy them), but the opposite has been proven of non-vegan corporations. Always, always, always try to find out where the money flow is coming from. That's where the truth will be buried.

In the end, everyone has to choose what seems most plausible to them. Most of us will never work directly with the groups that dole out product information, so it's up to us to do our own research and then trust our gut. I can't count the number of "arguments" I have heard against veganism all wrapped up in the one belief that our information is not accurate. When asked to cite the source of this belief I have never heard a reply. It's usually in the form of "of course milk is good for you", which is the mind set that watching a Got Milk? ad counts as research. How depressing.

So. Everything I have written I believe to be 100% true. If I have not found documentation of a fact then I won't post it. I urge you not just to take my word for it, but to do some exploration and verify anything that disturbs or confuses you. I also urge you to challenge your conceptions of who to trust and who might be abusing your trust for profit or other gain. Find out if the information you are receiving is the product of a hidden agenda, or genuine facts. It is my sincere belief that this method of responsible consumerism (coupled with conscience, of course) would lead to a global vegan lifestyle. I hope you enjoy reading my articles, and more importantly, discover a satisfaction in learning what effects your habits have on yourself, others, and the planet.

-LK

1 & 3. Revised quotations from the book Affluenza.
2. Revised quotation from
this page


   
All text by LK, except where noted. Distribute freely, but please link back to Vegan Info.
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