Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is your vegan chocolate really cruelty-free?

Thanks to all of you who have supported our work in this area and provided us with the names of companies to look into.

On our website we have posted the first list of companies that we can, with good conscience, recommend since they have no ties to the cacao (cocoa) beans in Africa where child slavery is not only a reality on conventional farms, but unfortunately can even be found on some of those that are fair trade. And you can also see where other companies stand on the issue.

To learn more about the issue, see our last blog "The chocolate we can all do without" and our website.

We are excited to see efforts to remove child labor from cocoa farms by the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union
(KKFU) in the country of Ghana, where they understand that there are people consuming chocolate who might boycott all chocolate sourced from Ghana until the issue of child labor is resolved in that country: “...chocolate consumers are very much alive to issues of human rights, issues of child rights and are asking questions of the chocolate companies where they’re getting their cocoa from and if the source of the cocoa is child-labour free. So the risk is that the whole of Ghana’s cocoa could be rejected on the world market because of child labour.”

We are encouraged by such efforts, and we hope our work will inspire other organizations to make similar strides toward cruelty-free chocolate.

Unfortunately, our list is not as long as we had originally hoped for, and what is disappointing is that many companies we thought would respond did not. We contacted each company via email over 3 months and a call was also made to all of the vegan specific companies.

You will notice that we have broken our list down into three parts: the companies that responded, those that did not, and those that would not reveal where they get their cocoa from.

The companies that responded that their chocolate is derived from West Africa do deserve some credit for being transparent.

I find most shameful not only the companies that would not be transparent with their supply chains, but also the vegan companies that didn’t even bother to respond.

So here is what we are asking you to do–for now:

Please only buy from companies that are on our recommended list.

See one of your favorites on our list as not responding or not being transparent? Contact the company and ask them to respond.

See one or more of your favorites on the list of companies we recommend you buy from? Don’t hesitate to thank them for doing their part and send them the link so they know this issue is important to you!

In the meantime, we are going to send a formal letter to a few of the companies that didn't respond or wouldn't be transparent with their supply chains, and based on their responses– or lack thereof– we might see fit to start a campaign to inform them how important this issue really is – and we hope you will join us!

Thanks go out to the following volunteers for their hard work and determination to get information from the companies: Sarah Galer, Chris Van Breen, Dana Portnoy and Mark Hawthorne.

And don't forget—
this Valentine’s Day, buy your sweetie (or yourself!) chocolate that is free from animal suffering and human slavery.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for compiling this list! Are there any specifics why Endangered Species didn't make it to the recommended list? They promote their chocolate as being slave labor free. I ask because I love their chocolate, plus they're local to me (their HQ is in Indianapolis) and they table at many events.

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  2. I totally appreciate why you want to support local and well, I do like them too. Unfortunately, they source some of their chocolate from the Ivory Coast (as well as Ecuador). To their credit, they do care about these issues, but unfortunately we can't be certain that chocolate from the Ivory Coast is free of slavery. Do let them know how you feel!

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