There was a time when I invested, too—before the economy tanked and before I saw Michael Moore’s documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. But is investing conducive to ethical veganism?
As with all big purchases, before investing I did my due diligence. I started my financial education by subscribing to Money magazine, I read Suze Orman’s Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke, and subsequently researched various companies and funds.
As it relates to stock exchanges, Socially Responsible Investing didn’t really take on global significance until the 1990s tech boom when SRIs addressed issues like tobacco, alcohol, and gun use. By the late '90s, environmental concerns and fossil fuels garnered more attention, however, by 2006, SRI portfolios still included companies that exploited animals for their products and/or services—and also charged higher fees.
In a recent online search for vegan stocks, Invest Snips identified only three companies on US stock exchanges, although at least one, Hain Celestial, is not vegan as they also sell meat and dairy products.
Then there is Baleine & Bjorn Capital, a firm that invests in seven "companies creating solutions to outdated animal products." Two of the companies use animal cells to make cultured meat and leather-like goods. I do not classify these companies as vegan, especially when one pronounces "We love meat." Another company in their portfolio, Vaute Couture, sells vegan, recycled cotton sweaters for $398!
Vegans who want to invest have more research to do than the average investor, but that's par for the course for those who give great thought to how their lives impact others. Most retirement accounts offered by employers are very limited and will not appeal to ethical vegans who, instead, may want to invest in individual vegan companies.
Personally, I have found investing immensely challenging from an ethical standpoint and impractical from a financial one. Animal-abuse culture is omnipresent and Wall Street is awash in companies capitalizing on the exploitation of nonhumans, humans (workers, children), and the environment. Just by their sheer existence, companies—even vegan ones—are responsible for habitat destruction and the loss of life due to development, use of resources, consumption, and waste.
Investing for retirement as an ethical vegan proves to be illusory and affirms the old adage that you can’t serve two gods. Vegans have to look at what's available and ask themselves whether investing in the traditional stock market and the Wall Street machine is not only feasible but just. Do we want to be part of a system that continuously grinds up lives and nature and spits it back out as more gratuitous consumer goods and services? Will we be happy knowing our financial future came at the expense of so much suffering and so many broken hearts?
How Do I Go Vegan?