2018 has seen a 13 per cent increase in the use of food banks, with 13 million people in the UK living below the poverty line. This is largely due to people either having a low income or their benefits have been delayed or changed.
Food banks are the only means of support some people receive and to them, it is the difference between starving or having some hope in knowing where their next meal is coming from.
As we see a rise in veganism, we are seeing more businesses opening their minds to the idea that people are trying to make better choices when it comes to the food they eat. If you are fortunate enough to be able to choose where you shop then you will find more plant-based food options in the supermarket aisles than ever before. If you are eating out, then there is the expectation that your restaurant of choice will have at least one vegan option on the menu – after all, that’s why you chose to eat there, right?
But what do vegans do when it comes to receiving support from a foodbank, when sometimes, ethical food choices may not be an option when the only thing offered is a can of hotdogs?
Surely, this could present many people with a moral dilemma as to whether they take what they are given and feel guilty about consuming a food product that is not in keeping with their ethical beliefs or, ultimately starve. After all, many people that receive food donations have more than just their own mouth to feed.
This is where vegan food banks come into play and thanks to charities such as Liverpool based food bank Human Kindness and Brighton based food bank Mutual Aid, penniless vegans can now enjoy a guilt free meal.
These vegan specific food banks are sparse however, but supply and demand dictates that the more people ask for vegan options, the more people listen.
Advice from The Vegan Society encourages those who can, to “donate food products to food banks such as B12 fortified soy milk, fortified nutritional yeast, fortified cereal, etc. As well as supplying your local food bank with these items, look at bringing in filling vegetable soups, curries and chilis in cans. Take in nuts and dried figs for calcium and selenium, rapeseed oil, walnuts and ground flaxseed for omega-3 and seaweed for iodine.” The website also provides testimonials from vegans who do struggle to afford food aswell as offering recipes and helpful advice as to how you can make tasty meals for just pennies.
Veganism is about compassion for all living beings – even if you don’t require aid from food banks yourself, spare a thought for those who do. Check out your local food bank and donate store cupboard food items that won’t perish. If your local area isn’t hugely populated with vegans, then maybe non-vegans will take the food you offer and make more vegan food for themselves. In turn, they may realise that vegan food is accessible, cheap and tasty! Another great way to spread the vegan message.