From Academic Kids

Freeganism is the practice of minimising one's impact on the environment by means of consuming food that has been or is about to be thrown away by someone else (e.g., supermarkets). A freegan may obtain the food by asking a retailer for what is to be discarded or by taking it from waste bins, a practice known colloquially as "dumpster diving".

Acting this way, a freegan has no responsibility for the material and energy resources used in the production process, since the goods have already exited the production-consumption cycle where money is used in exchange for goods.

However, critics of freeganism say that eating trash will not help the environment at all, and that there are better ways to help, such as recycling and using alternative energy. Furthermore, they argue that freeganism is simply not a healthy lifestyle for someone.

In many developed countries, the quality demands and hygiene standards of consumers are high enough that many foods stay edible for a period of time after their expiry or "best before" dates. In temperate climates, the best seasons for freeganism are autumn and winter, when waste bins remain at refrigerator temperatures.

Freeganism in itself does not mean a person is following a certain kind of dietary behaviour, though it is common that freegans practice vegetarianism or veganism, possibly for practical reasons as well as moral/philosophical; as discarded meat becomes inedible faster than vegetable matter.

Many people exerting this practice have been forced into it simply by lacking the income necessary to purchase food normally, rather than making a conscious decision to sustain themselves by scavenging when other choices are available.

Freeganism is also used to describe people who will pay for vegan food, but will eat non-vegan food if they can get it for free. Unlike the above, these people do not necessarily eat food that was already thrown away, but rather they eat non-vegan food that is offered to them, or that would otherwise be thrown away. However, they may often have the same motives, or they may simply be acquiescing to their friends', relatives', or coworkers' attempts to feed them non-vegan food.

There are some who use the word freegan to describe a lifestyle where one only eats food one has acquired for free (by dumpstering or stealing or being given it). It is not clear if there is actually anyone who adheres to this definition of the word.

Vegans often argue that many self described freegans do not strictly follow the rule of only eating animal products that would otherwise go to waste. Violations of that freegan principle could range from bumming food off of friends to even buying non-vegan food because it's cheaper. Therefore, the vegan critics argue, "freeganism" for many is more a label or pretension than a principled diet which is actually followed. Some freegans counter that there are also a good number of self-described vegans who are less than dilligent in following the rules of their diet.

It should be noted that many vegans and vegetarians do not accept freeganism because they see it as either some kind of joke or parody of veganism.

Slang: "Freegan" is also being used as a derogatory slang word for a cheap person who mooches off of others, in a fashion that has nothing to do with the intended meaning of freeganism.


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