Soul Food

By on September 10, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The HSUS is a big-tent organization. We welcome you into the family of animal protectors if you demonstrate any concern for our fellow creatures—whether promoting spaying and neutering, donating to help animals during disasters, writing letters to lawmakers or corporations, or eating lower on the food chain or just being a more conscious eater. We impose no litmus test on our members or supporters, and any act of kindness is celebrated.

Wayne Pacelle at airport
© The HSUS/Riley

When I entered college nearly 25 years ago, I was so appalled with the abuses of industrialized factory farming that I decided I would go vegan. It was the right decision for me then, and it’s right for me now. As these last two decades have passed, I’ve seen that it’s become so much easier to find vegan fare. But finding vegan food with some nutritional content at airports has always been a particular challenge, and it’s a special irritant for frequent travelers like me. Yesterday, The New York Times ran a light-hearted account from me, through the reporting of Joan Raymond, about my travails in finding acceptable fare at airports. Since the piece ran, several people have told me of great places they’ve found at airports, and I appreciate their findings.

I am not sure vegans alone are going to move the retail sector to expand their cuisine at airports and elsewhere. But surveys show millions of Americans are "flexitarians"—they eat vegetarian some of the time, for health reasons and for a conscious concern about animals and the environment (just this week the U.N.’s top climate scientist called for less meat consumption to help combat global warming). And as retailers recognize this growing market, they’ll provide more options for consumers. And that’s good news for us all.

The way I look at it, the food industry is going to benefit either way. We all need to eat, and as the ranks of conscious eaters grow, we’ll just be spreading a slightly larger portion of wealth to producers who grow fruits and vegetables or who raise animals without resorting to particularly inhumane confinement practices. It’s a zero-sum game for the food industry, but a big plus for animals and the environment.

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