Many friends think being vegan is extreme. It hasn’t actually been that hard (except being tempted by working in a pub serving chicken wings or watching my friends eat pizza and cake, while I’m eating quinoa). There are a few extremes to veganism, though, that I think would push me over the edge a bit. Raw foodism I will talk about later in the week, as I’m hoping to go to a talk at the University of Toronto on the raw food diet. Today, though, I will discuss freeganism.
According to Freegan.ca, freeganism is:
a way of life based around the belief that almost all work and monetary exchanges within a capitalist economy contribute to myriad forms of exploitation such as worker abuse, animal exploitation, hunger, ecological destruction, mass incarceration, war, inequitable distribution of resources, commodification of women – almost all issues addressed by social, ecological, and animal rights advocacy groups.
Basically, freegans aim for a total boycott of our capitalist economy, choosing instead to try to avoid using money; forage for food; recycle, compost and repair broken goods instead of throw them away, or share, give away, or trade goods in free markets and online (places like the free section on craigslist and freecycle.org); hitchhike, trainhop, walk, skate or bike as transportation; look for rent-free housing – become squatters who occupy and rehabilitate abandoned buildings; grow community gardens, or forage for food in city parks or in the wild; reduce their need to by employed, instead “caring for our families, volunteering in our communities, and joining activist groups to fight the practices of the corporations who would otherwise be bossing us around at work.” (Freegan.info)
Freeganism is a combination of “free” and “vegan”, although not all freegans are vegan (those who aren’t are sometimes called “meagans” because they eat meat). They believe the vegan lifestyle is not without exploitation (worker exploitation, use of pesticides, wasteful packaging, non-renewable resources used) and therefore choose to go to the extreme of total boycott.
The most notorious strategy of freegans to acquire food and goods is “dumpster diving”. Sometimes alone and sometimes in groups, freegans will search through the garbages of retailers, supermarkets, restaurants, office buildings, homes, etc. to find edible food (most places will throw out food that is close to its sell-by date or has damaged packaging), or reusable, in good condition (a symptom of our throwaway culture where we replace older goods with new ones, even when the old ones work fine) or recyclable products.
As part of the anti-consumerist choices they make, freegans will sometimes set up sawdust toilets, collecting and composting human faeces to be used as manure, or “humanure”. The plywood toilet collects excrement, which is moved to an outdoor composting bin. In approximately one year, if composted correctly, the humanure can be used in agriculture. For more information on how to make one and watch some videos, go to HumanureHandbook.com.