Before I get to the specifics, just let me alleviate your curiosity and answer the question: yes, in my opinion, it is. I know it’s pure sacrilege in most vegan circles to assert that one can eat animal products and still be true to vegan ethics. But, trust me, I have my reasons for thinking this way.
But let’s first talk about things that eating non-vegan freegan food (NVFF) is NOT compatible with.
It is NOT compatible with the idea that maintaining a strict avoidance of animal-derived food products in one’s body is the the most important defining characteristic of a vegan. It is NOT compatible with the idea, popular in many vegan circles, that non-vegan food just simply is not food. You all know what I’m talking about. It’s often trotted out as a reason why veganism involves no sense of deprivation because you can still eat any food you want. If a corndog or cheese string is not food, how can you feel deprived by not eating it? If you find any of this to be a problem, you should probably just stop reading now. I might infect you with my moral baseline.
I had read about freegans before (while I was vegan) and I never faulted them for eating non-vegan freegan food (NVFF), but was not able to admit to myself that their approach was actually ethically superior to straight-up consumer veganism. I owe much of my rethinking of this topic to reading Let Them Eat Meat, specifically this article. And this brings up the idea of the moral baseline again. Why do so many vegans insist that veganism is the moral baseline? Why isn’t freeganism (vegan or not) the moral baseline? I think mainly because, well, it can be a lot of work and most people aren’t too keen on the idea of rooting around in dumpsters (or being known as a person that spends a good amount of his free time hanging out in dumpsters). Alternatively, why isn’t, I don’t know – buying only happy meat the moral baseline? Why not?
So many vegans have this smug attitude that veganism is the moral baseline and, goddammit, anyone that falls short of that is just not ethical. You know, because ethical vegans are ethical and everyone else is… well, unethical I guess. I’ve tried to explain to a number of so-called “ethical vegans” how offensive that term is, but to no avail as far as I can tell. Yes, I get that the “ethical” part of it is to distinguish yourself from “environmental vegans” or “health vegans,” but knowing this doesn’t make any of it seem less pompous to me. So imagine how the term “ethical vegan” sounds to people outside the initiated fold. Not good.
But as long as it gives you that warm, smarmy feeling of superiority you crave, I guess that’s what matters.
– – thanks for reading – –