The BDS Movement and Veganism


As I continue my Vegan journey, I learn more about the nuances of it.

I learn about deeper definitions of the term, I learn about the philosophy a behind it and I in particular I learn about how it’s connected to other ideas.

One such idea that Veganism is connected to is the BDS movement.

What is BDS

BDS stands for Boycott, Divest and Sanction.

I wrote an article about how it was successfully used to dismantle Apartheid and you can read that article here.

In it’s simplest form, it means if you don’t like something you boycott it, you divest from it and you sanction it.

Some of this can be actioned by the individual, and some can be actioned by larger entities like nation states.

BDS is a powerful tool to create the changes we want to see.

I honestly think it’s one of the most potent tools at our disposal and we should use it more.

Parallels with Veganism

Inadvertently all vegans and vegetarians have been performing BDS whether they realize it or not.

Perhaps you don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, or for animal welfare reasons, or you want to stop climate change. It doesn’t matter what your reason is, but the end result is that you are boycotting consuming animal products.

This has potent economic effects.

If people stop spending cash in one place and spend it in another place – this can reshape entire industries.

This is why we see mega-corporation behemoths like McDonalds and KFC conceding to consumer demand for vegan foods.

Ramping up Veganism


After having been Vegan for a while you might start wondering “Are my clothes Vegan?”, “Is my toothpaste Vegan?”, “Are my investments Vegan?”

This is when you might consider divesting from the S&P500 and investing in something like Beyond Meat or Tesla.

This is the second part of the BDS movement – Divestment, where we remove our cash from organisations, stocks and shares that are not consistent with our beliefs.


Sanctions is only tool that is specifically in the domain of nation states.

This is where a nation can stop trading with another nation, can drastically curtail trade with a nation, impose high tariffs, quotas and execute a host of other things.

The most we can do as Vegans in this space is lobby our elected officials to sanction nations that abuse animals.

Talk vs Action

I like the BDS movement.

It clearly articulates the power that people have. If you don’t like something don’t partake in it.

At present I think Boycotting and Divestment is the most effective approach for Vegans. These alone have yielded incredible results and the entire world is waking up to the fact the animal consumption is costing us all dearly.

I don’t think Sanctions will ever materialize anytime soon, because the political will is weak.

However Boycotting and Divesting animal consumption en masse will definitely get us to a Vegan-ish world.


Veganism has a lot in common with other movements like Feminism, BDS, Worker Rights and Extinction Rebellion.

It interesting to discover how we’re all connected, what beliefs we share and what common ideas unify us.

As much as BDS seems quite disparate from Veganism. There actually a lot in common and we could learn much from it.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


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