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Vegan People
Respecting All Animals
Compassion to one animal may not be compassion to another 
4th-Sep-2012 10:44 pm
vegandog
I was walking through a mall strip the other day and a gent had seen me consider buying my boyfriend a soda. We decided against it, but he caught that I had some ones, obviously, because he immediately came upon us and asked if we could "spare some money, he wanted to get some food." Well, maybe I'm just a sucker, but I always open my wallet and spare whatever cash I happen to have on me. (Which in the month of August, led to about $50 in random donations.)

As the bills pass from my hand to his, he says, "Yeah, just enough to get some burgers at {where ever}." And I immediately had the urge to snatch the bills back, even though I didn't.

I directly contributed to the buying of a beef burger.

I won't even buy vegetarian food for friends, I'd rather let them eyeball my food and complain then spend my own dime for something I'm passionately against.

And there I was, buying a damn burger for a hobo. And really, considering the subsidized cheapness of that food, it's possible that all of my donations thus far may lead to these people buying from the Dollar Menu of where-ever.

And that, in the month of August, I contributed to the buying of $50 of hamburgers.

This leads me to never want to contribute cash again. Do I say no? Do I start carrying bags of apples or vegan snacks around to give to these people? 

Honestly, I want to say no and tell them exactly why. That what they would most likely purchase wouldn't coincide with my personal beliefs. I'd feel guilty, hence the explanation, which in the end, just kind of sounds like I'm judging them.

What to do...?

*sigh*

EDIT ADD:
I suppose my thought process ends up being thus; I am not directly contributing to creulty to the human animal by not giving them my spare change/cash although it may cause me to appear un caring. However, I may be directly contributing to the cruelty to non human animal by freely giving cash that could be used for such a thing.
I'm leaning towards a "No, but good luck," even if I have a few dollars on my person. Some people brought up some good safety points. Being mugged is much more likely as I'm peering into my purse or digging into a wallet. If they push forward and state they're hungry, I'd feel more comfortable buying them the object directly. There are conveneience stores on near every corner. I could buy them 2000 calories of pretzels or potato chips for the $3 I gave that guy. (Which, at most, garnered him 800 calories.)


Comments 
5th-Sep-2012 03:51 am (UTC)
Personally, I do think it is judging them. If you are giving people money, you are letting them decide what to buy with that money. They could buy alcohol or drugs or meat or whatever, but it's not your money any more. You may buy vegan food and the person you're giving that money to may go out and buy a burger with it. You can't control how other people spend their money. If you don't trust them to make the best decisions about their life and their money, then don't give them money, or give it to a shelter or homelessness cause that you support. But giving a speech sounds horrible. If you're hungry and poor, you buy what will fill your stomach. Apples or snacks aren't going to be as filling or useful as a burger. We should be working towards making healthy, ethical (not just vegan, but also good for labor rights and environmentalism) food more available, not shaming people for making the choices that make the most sense for them in constrained situations.
5th-Sep-2012 09:28 am (UTC)
Love your answer.
5th-Sep-2012 03:57 am (UTC)
Honestly, this is why I stopped giving money to people who asked for it. There are many resources (and other people) who would give that person help or money had he asked them. I don't feel guilty because as humans, we have those options, but the animals who become burgers certainly didn't.

I have bought people asking for money vegan food though. Often I hang out in an all vegan restaurant/cafe/bookstore and have become quite familiar with a few people in need in the area. If I have some extra cash they know they can ask me for food and I'll get them something vegan to eat but I won't give them money. They understand why and are grateful for the food.
5th-Sep-2012 04:00 am (UTC)
I say no, and then go home and occasionally donate to groups that help the homeless get off the streets, like the Homeless Advocacy Project. I don't give panhandlers cash because I pass so many of them daily that, quite frankly, I'd be giving up a lot of cash.

Oh that, and I was the target of an attempted robbery be one of these panhandlers a few months ago, so I avoid them now. (He concocted a story about being in a car wreck and needing me to go to the ATM and take out cash for him, and he happened to know an ATM on a side street a few blocks away, HOW CONVENIENT.)
5th-Sep-2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
In general, I stopped carrying cash regularly on my person a long while back. At least when I was younger, I had a tendency of "losing" my wallet, either by leaving it on top of my car as I drive off, or it just plain fell out of whatever I was keeping it in. After having various amounts of cash taken, achecks written in my name, my bank account info was stolen from those "ATM" reader/catchers... I don't keep cash on me unless I intend to use it almost immediately. And I can always cancel cards.

I have never been directly robbed/mugged, but have been indirectly robbed multiple times. Meh. But your story does bring up a safety point.

Being mugged is much more likely as I'm peering into my purse or digging in a wallet.
5th-Sep-2012 04:27 am (UTC)
Vegan or not, I always had a bad feeling giving people money, as there are various things I don't want them to buy from "my" money (including cigarettes and booze).

Buying them food or a coffee, or giving them an apple (that they will not decline if they really are asking for food money and not booze money, for example) or another snack, a sandwich I have not eaten, etc. feels much better to me. That way you do help them, and you are sure it's something vegan. :-) And of course, your food-donation will certainly be appreciated, too!
5th-Sep-2012 04:50 am (UTC)
I've seen people throw away the apples that came with bag lunches charity groups were giving away. If you've been poor for any length of time chances are your teeth aren't in good enough shape to eat an apple unless someone has cut it into small pieces first.
5th-Sep-2012 04:30 am (UTC)
Depending on your location there are most likely social services available through which such persons can acquire food. It is more likely that your dollar went to drugs or alcohol rather than a hamburger. This is the reason I have learned to absolutely never give money to panhandlers.

Edited at 2012-09-05 04:31 am (UTC)
5th-Sep-2012 05:10 am (UTC)
Loving the "are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" vibe in some of the comments to this post.

If I was homeless I can't say that I wouldn't be eating off the mcdonald's dollar menu because cheap vegan food that's actually filling usually requires preparation and that's hard to do when your "home" is a pile of blankets in a doorway. I hope I'm never in that position but I'm not going to judge someone who is. I'm not even going to begrudge people using drugs or alcohol because if I lived on the street I'd probably want to stay drunk all the time too.

I do frivolous things with my money all the time so I'm not going to expect anyone, even the panhandler I give my dollar to, to only spend their money on nutritious food.
5th-Sep-2012 05:58 am (UTC)
There's a difference between nutritious food and food that came from a tortured animal.

I guess it depends why you're vegan. I'm vegan because I'm against cruelty towards animals. I wouldn't be okay supporting the most violent industry on the planet.

And, fwiw, I do have family members (including my dad) who are frequently homeless. I still wouldn't give him cash. I would pay for things if he needed it but I wouldn't just hand him over money.
5th-Sep-2012 05:52 am (UTC)
>>And there I was, buying a damn burger for a hobo.

....Lovely.

My poor and semi-homeless best friend probably buys animal products with the $$ I wing to him occassionally, but I'm not gonna judge him for it. Poor people have to eat. The dollar menu is cheap. I'm not gonna morally judge someone and expect them to starve because their diet makes me feel icky.
5th-Sep-2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
I think terminology is the least of anyone's worries on this particular issue. I'm not morally judging ANYONE. I'm not thinking that this "possibly" homeless person is any more horrible than my coworkers for the food choices they make. I don't stare at people's plates and make them uncomfortable about their choices.

And if I were judging them for being homeless, I wouldn't have had a "open my wallet" policy for 8 years straight. I had just never made the connection before that they would buy meat with my donation. I HAD made the connection of them buying alcohol/drugs and I actually had no problem with that based on political beliefs. I think that everyone had a right to destroy themselves in any way they please. But destroying entities outside of your individual self is where I draw the line.

I am not directly contributing to cruelty to the human animal by not giving them my spare change/cash although it may cause me to appear un caring. However, I may be directly contributing to the cruelty to non human animal by freely giving cash that could be used for such a thing. THAT is my concern, and I wanted to air my thoughts as well as hear other's thoughts.
5th-Sep-2012 06:53 am (UTC)
The "there are services available to feed them" comments are making me a little mental. I run a project that helps clothe the homeless for the winter, so I know a bit about the "services." There are hundreds of thousands more homeless than there are space for them in shelters or food to give them. To say "there are services" and make it someone else's problem is naive in my opinion, and reflects having bought into the stigma that homeless people are responsible for their own situation and could fix it if they chose. That is not the case for a large percentage of homeless persons.

I understand your concern about what they do with the money, but a wise (vegan) friend of mine once told me this: "Whether I give them money or not is between me and God; what they choose to do with it is between them and God." Whether you believe in a god or not, the point holds. By giving them assistance, you are choosing compassion. They may choose nutrition, they may choose self-destruction, they may choose any number of things, but that's not your problem. You gave them a chance to choose, and that's the right thing to do.
5th-Sep-2012 07:28 am (UTC)
I give money sometimes, but I am far more likely to hand someone the leftovers from a restaurant meal, or a clif bar or some oranges from my tree. Or, especially when someone is out at night near my place, I'll go home and make them a couple PBJs and a hot drink if it is cold, or a big bottle of water if it's hot. Maybe grab a banana or two if I can spare them. One time in winter, I took a woman an old jacket of mine, a stocking cap, a pair of warm socks that I had just darned, some stretchy gloves, a big jar of hot cocoa, some fruit, a couple of sandwiches, and then tucked a $5 in the jacket pocket. Were I wealthier, that would have been a lot more.
5th-Sep-2012 10:26 am (UTC)
With homelessness, there is a lot of loss of agency and respect. We can all choose what we want to and are in the mood to eat. He needs something cheap and filling. And honestly an apple? If he's really hungry? Probably not going to cut it. (to respond to some of the comments).

Anyway, it's kind of empowering to his self-respect that he could go and purchase food with the money instead of having somebody throw a PB&J sandwich or an apple at him and assume that (1) he could eat peanut butter (2) he liked PB&J (3) that was what he felt like eating right then. We all have the ability to decide what we're in the mood for and what we want to and don't want to eat. I do think forcing those beliefs on somebody else who you're in a position of power over (you're giving him money to allow him to eat) is pretty obnoxious.

I used to work at a shelter and I loved that they always had a vegetarian option and they always had cereal and PB&J for people who didn't like what was being served. That was partially because there was stuff I could eat but also because it allowed our guests to make choices, to eat vegetarian food if they wanted to, to make themself a sandwich if they didn't like what was being served. There's often an attitude toward homeless that they should be grateful for whatever they get and not complain or refuse it.
5th-Sep-2012 11:22 am (UTC)
Yeah, people living on the street do not have the luxury of making some of the decisions that we do. If they need a hamburger or alcohol or anything to make their lives a little bit better and more bearable then so be it, I'm not gonna judge them for that. The resources and services available to take care of people living rough are completely overstretched, a few spare bucks can make a huge difference for that one person.

In the cities closest to me, a lot of homeless people have pet dogs that they've rescued off the streets to prevent them from being PTS. The dogs are usually a hell of a lot more healthy looking than their owners, and I have no doubt that a lot of the spare change they collect goes towards dog food or meat for the dogs. Hell, I give money to animal charities that rescue cats and no doubt feed them meat while they're waiting to be adopted.

Short answer, yeah I give homeless people my spare change or any money I have on me. It's the price of a cup of coffee for me that I can go without, and the rest of my money goes on vegan stuff. When I give money to other people it's no longer my money.
5th-Sep-2012 11:39 am (UTC)
Calling a person hobo just because they buy a burger? Why are you giving money to hin then? Of course they'll buy the cheapest meal around, that's called smart. Veganism is mostly the luxury of non-poor. Do not judge but lead by example.
5th-Sep-2012 12:40 pm (UTC)
I think you are being judgmental and patronizing. The fact you called them a hobo is evidence of that. I also think it's pretty privileged and terrible to have this type of attitude.

Edited at 2012-09-05 01:04 pm (UTC)
5th-Sep-2012 02:33 pm (UTC)
This. I hope the OP is never homeless and starving.
5th-Sep-2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
Well, it wouldn't be possible for him to eat vegan if he's homeless. It's not fair to judge someone for eating whatever it is they can afford. And honestly, I don't think you should have to feel guilty about it. Once you've given him the money, it's his money, not yours -- you're not the one buying the burger. None of your money is going towards something that isn't vegan.

And you're not obligated to give other people your money, of course, but I don't think 'this poor person might buy something I don't personally approve of' is a very good reason to stop helping people out.
5th-Sep-2012 01:38 pm (UTC)
"Well, it wouldn't be possible for him to eat vegan if he's homeless"

Why not? How do you know? Do you think there's never been vegans who have been homeless and kept vegan? This seems like quite a baseless assumption to be stating so absolutely.
5th-Sep-2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
I am sad about how much privilege is raging unchecked in this post and in some of the comments.
5th-Sep-2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
This!
5th-Sep-2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
I'd just like to bring up the fact that we're giving non-vegans money whenever we buy anything. How much unnecessary stuff do we buy with money that will be spent on animal products.
5th-Sep-2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
That is a very good point.
5th-Sep-2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
Hm. When I go into dc or Baltimore I try to remember to take extra clif bars or granola bars with me to offer to anyone that asks. I just don't generally have cash on me. I have never had anyone turn them down. I had not really thought about people using my money to buy meat... I do give cash if I don't have something else and have some on me.i guess in that instance I put my compassion for people over my compassion for animals. I think I am okay with that.
5th-Sep-2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
There are conveneience stores on near every corner. I could buy them 2000 calories of pretzels or potato chips for the $3 I gave that guy.

And then the convenience store owner will use his profits to re-stock the beef jerky and chicken wings. The simple fact is that once the money is out of your hands, it's no longer in your control what happens to it. That applies if you go buy the guy pretzels or if you don't. Unless you only shop at a vegan market. (And don't donate to homeless shelters. And don't pay your taxes, since homeless children are fed non-vegan food for breakfast and lunch through the federally-funded Title I program in schools.)

There is simply no perfect solution here, but I think you're missing the forest for the trees. What's going to make a greater impact: if you say "Sorry, no," and do nothing for someone in need, or if when you're handing him (or her) the money, you ask that it be used compassionately, just like the compassion you're showing? There's a chance they won't listen, but then your compassion might touch them and make them think.

Edited at 2012-09-05 08:20 pm (UTC)
6th-Sep-2012 02:15 am (UTC)
I live in NYC, so I have people asking me for money all the time. I'm not a bad person for saying no or ignoring them—and that includes the people for Greenpeace and Children International who stand in the middle of the sidewalk with clipboards trying to get your attention.

However, I do give generously to street and subway musicians—provided they're good—even if they're wearing leather shoes and a leather jacket. Very few musical instruments contain no animal products:

• The pads of the keys on flutes are made of isinglass (fish scales.)

• The pads of saxophone keys are leather. (Although I've heard of neoprene pads being available in Europe, when it came time to repad my saxophone, I couldn't find anyone who would/could do it and one technician argued with me that it was worse to use neoprene because it was a product of fossil fuels.)

• The strings of violins are gut; as far as I know, only students use synthetic strings—if anyone does.

• Brass instruments are probably friendliest to animals: as far as I know, only the felts in the valves are animal-derived. That's as long as the musician isn't carrying his horn in a leather bag.

But again, I think you might rethink your generosity; it is kind to give away money indiscriminately to those in need, but there are vegan charities that might use your money better and more efficiently. (Or not. I also won't give to charities that experiment on animals, like the Cancer Society.)
9th-Sep-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
Well OP, for what it's worth I have to offer my sympathies to you for not only facing this dilemma, which I think is a valid one, but also for getting castigated just because you reached out to people(and people who ought to be on your side, at that) for advice.

I've been sort of on and off homeless for years. This conundrum you have doesn't often come up for me, because I don't generally have any money to give out. However when I do have it, I still don't give it out. This is for a couple of reasons. One is that I don't wish to be an enabler....It would be great if we lived in a world where, if there have to be people without shelter, at least they aren't generally struggling with addiction. But we aren't, and homeless people, at least in this country, generally are. Feeding their addiction isn't helping them, and neither are people who tell you that you ought to just give them whatever they want for fear of appearing "judgemental." One person said, "if I lived on the street I'd probably want to stay drunk all the time too". I think that is a rather interesting take on things, as if people who already have it bad might as well make it worse with constant inebriation. Personally, I'd rather not add to their problems.
But mostly it is because of what you said: But destroying entities outside of your individual self is where I draw the line. I second this. And I also second everyone who has stated that they give out food but not money. I've given out food to thousands of people over the years, because I volunteer with vegan free food organizations, and I see that as being a lot more productive and compassionate all around than indirectly supporting genocidal industries(tobacco and alcohol industries count too!) with our well-meaning dollars.

Anyway, I for one applaud your decision.
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