How super is Cruelty Free Super?

According to Wikipedia, XTC were an alternate pop band that formed in the 1970s.

Their album Skylarking, which was released in 1986, was produced by Todd Rundgren.

I didn’t know that, but it falls into place given the sound of That’s Really Super, Super Girl, a song from the album (unfortunately i couldn’t find a good video of the song).

The song’s title is ironic, and the same thing can be said about Cruelty Free Super.

That is, far from being super, Cruelty Free Super, like so many others that attach themselves to the word “vegan,” reveals itself as a number of things it says it’s not.

According to this post on the Principle of Trade website, Cruelty Free Super maintains:

  • that it invests in “Cruelty free healthcare,” even though that includes serving animal foods to clients
  • that it doesn’t invest in “regional banks” because of their involvement with “live animal export, intensive farming and activities cruel to animals,” yet funds other banks, of which at least one, and likely more (if not all) service customers in animal industry
  • that it says “NO to Wellard Group” and companies like them who take part in the live export trade, yet puts money into the Australian Stock Exchange, which lists many companies involved in animal use, including live export, specifically Wellard
  • that it’s “cruelty free” despite animals killed by crop spraying, harvesting, crop protection and harvest protection
  • and, as such, that it’s “Australia’s only vegan superannuation fund,” when, at least at present, there is no such thing ie a fund that invests only in vegan companies.

They seem to believe that “vegan” means something like “seeking to avoid animal use as far as possible, but stock is fairly abstract, and surely we can’t look too closely?”

While the issue of researching the level of animal use companies are involved in is important, a more immediate concern is why an ‘ethical’ company isn’t more honest with its prospective and existing customers.

The broader issue may be a focus on the concrete rather than abstract.

Many people who use the term “vegan” appear to believe that it applies mainly to the concrete, that is, those things they can see before them with their own eyes.

The calf taken from his or her mother, the artificially inseminated cow, the chicks sent through a ‘macerator,’ the chickens who have their throats slit en masse….

These are all concrete and relatively simple to comprehend, whereas the abstract is at least one step removed, and people may not make the same connection.

A stock, for instance, doesn’t stun sheep or gas them, but it can nevertheless represent a company who does these things.

Likewise, regulations don’t kill animals, but they can nevertheless allow that to happen, guiding the way animals are used and killed.

Everything is at least one step removed, and has an abstract element.

People who eat the flesh of cows and lambs, drink milk and eat eggs are often oblivious to the animals used for their meals, because it’s an abstraction that’s at least one step removed from everyday life.

They don’t want to see, and may not be able to see: the things in question are abstract, and so not part of a concrete reality.

Similarly, people who identify as vegan can’t, are reluctant, or unwilling to concede that the stock, the regulation, and political parties they stand for all contradict the fundamental values they say they believe in: not using animals.