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The inspiration behind this post came from an argument I saw on twitter, complaining about vegans’s preaching about being vegan but doing cocaine. Not being a vegan nor a drug user, but in my third year of studying philosophy, I wondered whether or not this was in fact true. Is it acceptable to call yourself a vegan and do coke?  The vegan society website defines veganism  as”avoid[ing] exploiting animals for any purpose, with compassion being a key reason many choose a vegan lifestyle”.Could it be possible, that alongisde almond milk (expected to be vegan), Oreos (was surprised at this) and bacon fries (very surprised), cocaine could be suitable for a vegan diet?

I eat meat and wear leather and fur. I do not do illegal drugs, although I do drink alcohol and coffee, both of which are drugs, albeit highly socially acceptable ones. Like most students, I recognise that our current policy on drugs is failing vulnerable people miserably. I also freely admit that my knowledge might have holes in it, so I apologise. Also, I have made the best of the very flawed information on the subject of how to actually manufacture cocaine and how it’s cut. It’s very possible this is all wrong, and the people frequenting a certain website are lying, and cocaine is actually boiled in beef stock. I think this paragraph is a disclaimer.

Cocaine is a substance extracted through a long and lengthy process from a variety of the coca plant. The leaves are plucked, dried, finely ground, processed into a paste and then mixed with an inorganic base, usually lime, and an organic solvent, usually kerosene. This is all put into a barrel and mixed, a process that separates the cocaine from the leaves.  Eventually, this is filtered out and the paste remains. This paste is then dried and the traditional white substance is formed.

Nothing in the actual process or ingredients of cocaine appear to not be vegan, and it comes out of a plant. It might almost be though of as natural. If I popped in to Nourish and they were selling it in nice, wholesome looking bags with an organic looking label on it, the process they described on the back would not make me question it in the slightest. Even the fact it contains kerosene probably wouldn’t put me off too much, as they could simply label that mineral oil (as it is called in the US) and most of South Dublin would be exclaiming about its mystical health properties and ability to revitalise and rejuvenate.

Finding out what people actually cut cocaine with is very very difficult, mainly because it seems to be everything and anything one could possibly sell to someone under the guise of it being cocaine. Also, cocaine can be cut with multiple different substances before it reaches the average consumer. There are various different options for this, of course, but mannitol seems to be the popular option for Mexican cartels, and it is perfectly suitable for vegans, being a natural carbohydrate alcohol (not an alcohol in the usual sense, it does not contain ethanol). So, cocaine cut with mannitol = perfectly suitable for a vegan.

Vitamin B12 is another popular choice, and as many people know, a vitamin vegans are actually recommended to take as a supplement. Perhaps medically unadvised, but a definite win for the vegan cocaine user, combining recreation and food supplements. The only definitely not suitable for vegans ingredient I could find were the commonly referenced baby laxatives. Lactose, being the sugar found in mammals milk, is used in baby laxatives. it does seem that this is the lowest of the low thing to cut your cocaine with, so theoretically this could be avoided by buying from more reputable dealers.

As a product if it is pure, or depending on what it is cut with, cocaine is completely vegan. Ethical issues about the harm it can do to ones body, or abuses in the industry would not prevent it from being so. Many people tie veganism into a larger world view about compassion or use it as an umbrella to combine all their ethical beliefs.  However, this is moving into more of an ethical discussion and is not really directly related to whether or not cocaine could be labeled as vegan. The definition of veganism is simply a person who does not consume animal products so you could be completely vegan while still owning a sweat shop, or having a career as a hitmen. It might not tie into the more typical beliefs of the larger vegan community,but they are taking the definition of vegan to mean something more holistic than it actually is (which it might be becoming) but hey, look at the transformation of the word gay since it first entered the language!

So, the next time you see something on the internet making fun of vegan cocaine user, know that they are probably wrong. Also, if you yourself are a vegan cocaine user, know you could be still following a strict vegan lifestyle, depending on what else has been added. Also, once again I do not support drug abuse, I just study philosophy, and liked to explore the question. I am also not trying to become Vice. If you feel like drugs use (or alcohol or gambling) is affecting your quality of life there is loads of information on the TCD student counselling page here.


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