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The vegan case for Scottish independence





Some Linkables ago (quite a few actually) I shared a link to the Vegans for Independence Facebook page. I noted that it wasn't a very active thing and that fact doesn't seem to have shifted. However there were one or two discussions over whether or not an independent Scotland would be a more vegan-friendly Scotland.

Veganism - despite animal welfare being one of my 'main causes' -  hadn't exactly entered my thought process whilst pondering whether to cast a yes or no vote. However this page did get me thinking about the some of the other issues surrounding the referendum and any points in the White Paper which could be of importance to the vegan community. Animal welfare hasn't been central to the debate and I can't find anything written in the White Paper directly regarding how animal welfare might change. In fairness, despite its many failings and fuck-ups, Westminster doesn't have that crappy a stance of animal welfare (ignoring the badger cull) and many animal laws are controlled by the European Union (of which I believe we will continue to be a member of).

What is going to be included are issues that can affect many different groups of society, not just vegans so there are issues covered here which might of interest to non-vegans. I'm not on a mission to suggest that Scotland should be a 100% vegan country nor am I going to start a 'Ban the Brie' campaign should we vote yes and I have more important issues to hound Alex Salmond on during the negotiations.

But anyway...

Fairer society/redistribution of wealth

Veganism is still a middle-class privilege and something that is still not accessible to a lot of people. Income, location, still living at home and access to information can impose barriers to people who want to live a vegan life but don't have the same privilege as others. I am on a decent income, live in one of the vegan friendliest cities in UK, had the income to move out my meat-eating parents house and can afford the internet and books about veganism. For people on Job Seekers living with parents it's not quite the same story and I know vegetarians who would make the jump if their circumstances were different.

One of the major arguments of a yes vote is that Holyrood has been more supportive of working-class individuals and the redistribution of wealth than Westminster. If Scotland has the ability to increase the amount of these progressive policies in order to create a fairer society then it could result in an increase in vegan individuals.

Consumer rights

Whatever happens we will need a new Food Standards Agency and Consumer Watchdog - where there should hopefully be a national discussion. Last I checked, the Food Standards Agency didn't have an official definition (just guidelines) of a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, despite the veggie community being united on the definition. The term 'natural' isn't regulated either and neither is the term 'cruelty-free' on toiletries. With enough pressure we can make sure these terms - along with other terms - become regulated and aren't something just thrown around by marketers.

This will be tightly aligned with pressure on the government during the early years of independence, and also the whole fairer voting system thing where if we don't like the way the government is treating consumer rights we have a higher chance of being able to vote them out.

Supporting small and independent business

In all three cities I've lived in, independent health stores have been better for providing to the vegan market than Holland & Barratt and Wholefoods. When it comes to beauty and hygiene products it's the smaller brands that seem to be recognising this growing market. The SNP do touch upon giving smaller businesses a bigger chance in the White Paper and the pro-yes Scottish Green Party are big supporters of small business. In contrast the big parties at Westminster are getting more closely tied to big business and were thinking of bringing in Universal Credit for self-employed people (something the SNP have said in Chapter 4 of the White Paper that they intend to halt).

I have also personally seen gaps in the market for vegan products, but my brief stint as an Arbonne Consultant for which I was registered as self-employed with HRMC has put me off going it alone again. We can't guarantee what kind of model the Scottish Government comes out with, but there's a much bigger chance of a national conversation which can include making our own version of HRMC which actually knows how to do it's job!

(Again, national conversation and fairer voting system tie in here)

Renewable energy

A mainstream argument for independence is the potential for renewable energy up in Scotland and a promise to utilise it. Not that there's a direct correlation between veganism and increased wind power but there is a lot of overlap between environmentalist and vegans with quite a few us identifying as both (and the environmental arguments for a vegan or vegetarian diets increasing). 

We have vegan politicians 

I haven't actually looked into how many of the nutters down in Westminster are vegan (can't quite imagine the coalition which pushed through a badger cull containing many vegans - maybe there's a rogue Labour backbencher somewhere). But I have known for some time that Labour MSP Cathy Jamieson is a vegan and also the Scottish Green Party's nominee for MEP in the latest European Elections Maggie Chapman is vegan. There may still be more. 

A more progressive and accepting society

This may be an emotional plea and some blind hope, but it has been flipped around that Scotland is a tolerant nation and if independent we could become even more so. I don't want to force people to be vegan however I would like mainstream society to accept my personal lifestyle choice rather than have people screwing up their faces at me when they find out my diet is plant based.

Though my argument for this points extends into if we become a country well-known for being vegan friendly we could attract the vegan tourists (such as Vegan Backpacker) ready to spend their moolah (remember what I was saying about middle-class privileged? That also translates to disposable income). 

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The vote is this week, and I'm getting nervous and excited for it all at once. I'm not going to tell you how to vote as, despite baking a yes vote, I'm a big believer in democracy and will accept the outcome. But I beg you to do a well-educated vote! My last two Linkables posts (here and here) have been #IndyRef themed and you can read my post on why I shifted from a no vote to a yes vote and also read some other reasons I am choosing to vote yes. If you're still unsure there is plenty of stuff out there to do some more reading, watching and listening within the next four days. I intend to tweet plenty of links over the next few days if you want to follow me

Stay classy Scotland, whether vegan or not, or independent or part of the union. 

Morag x
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