Saturday, 2 July 2011

What If Reading The Small Print Is Not Enough?

As any vegetarian or vegan will tell you in choosing this life you have to develop a fine art of reading labels. Unless a product's been stamped with the Veg Soc Approved logo, its contents can be at best dubious and require careful scrutiny. This adds precious time to the weekly shop. Not so much supermarket sweep, but a squinting contest of peering at the back of tinned cans and packets. Is it any surprise I'm now short-sighted!

After years of practice, I thought I had this honed this essential skill, but I've recently discovered a loophole. Some food manufacturers it seems are employing a profits-to-charity technique. This should makes us feel extra good about buying, but what if the charity is not suitable for vegetarians? I'll give you an example. Red Lion Foods, a producer of cooked meats, tinned foods, including vegetable soup, bread, dairy and rice, donates its post-tax profits to support recovering soldiers. One of its beneficiaries is Fishing For Forces. A charity providing therapeutic fishing days for soldiers returning from operational duty. I don't have a problem supporting our forces or those recovering from war injuries, but as a veggie I don't want my money to go towards such activities. I found this minor detail out through media publicity, not from the label on their goods.

You may think I'm being petty, but am I? It depends on your principles. For some it will be an issue. Judging products by ingredients for their suitability has been usurped. I personally don't want my purchases to be associated with anything I regard as unnecessary animal cruelty. Buy Veg Soc Approved products only you might argue, but this is easier said than done, and no this isn't a swipe at the society. Products approved are not 100% accessible in all areas. It's like playing a game of hide and seek, or as I've renamed it high and low. A joy to find a product hidden in an most inconvenient spot along the in-store shelves.

This charity initiative poses an unseen threat. Products, such as those mentioned above, should come stamped with a Warning: Post-tax profits donated to not suitable for vegetarian causes. Veggies buyers, be aware and research your food!