Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Know your investments

One of the defining points about what makes us vegan is that we are open to a broader perspective. Rather than turning away from the cruelty that lurks behind our plates, dying to become visible, we have made the decision to look at it full-on. For many of us, it is only when we stop and consider carefully what's actually happening to produce our food that we gain the understanding and resolve to live in a more compassionate way.

Wishful thinking is a common human error. We want to believe that this is how our food animals are raised:


when in reality, the vast majority (but not all) are raised like this:


Do you think the beef and dairy industries want to spoil the first image for you? Of course not. Perhaps this fantasy is the only thing between us and total upheaval (and drastic reduction) in these industries.

But I digress. The point here is, by deciding to think for ourselves, and investigate, we have garnered a wider understanding of what's going on, and figured out how better to align our behavior with what we want -- namely, by going vegan. Once we know, we are empowered to make choices that better serve us.

What I'm trying to say by dancing around it is, we need a different approach to investing. We need to do more than find some place to stuff our money. Consider:
When you save, and then invest your savings, you are creating the future.
- greenamerica.org
As investors, we are cocreators, and so we may be well advised to know our investments. Like any knowing, this entails some work. Study the companies you invest in. Read the reports to shareholders. Read reports from people outside the company (because if they're up to something you wouldn't like, only the best managers will tell you straight up). Once you are a shareholder, vote. If this is too hands-on for you, at least communicate your values to your financial planner or investment advisor. Make sure they know that you care. Ask them tough questions, and if they can't answer, consider getting another one. (Hopefully soon there will be a directory of vegan professionals on the web :) )

I'm hoping to do some of this legwork for you in future posts, but that's no substitute for each of us taking responsibility and trying to maintain some measure of control over our own money. And it starts with looking deeply. Know your investments.