It is a complicated world, my friend.
Some of us are doing our best to live cruelty-free and some of us are going out of our way to make fun of people living cruelty-free aka vegan.
Both of the “teams” are googling questions like these: “Are smartphones vegan”. There are many reasons why one would do that;
Trying not to hurt animals while still living in the modern world and using technology, trying to win arguments against the other “team”, trolling in comments of blog posts or YouTube videos etc.
Quick FYI; I am vegetarian for the last almost 10 years and I and my wife were vegan as well for 2 years of the 10. Why did we go back to being vegetarians? In all honesty, laziness. Being a vegetarian is easy. It’s easy especially if you live in a country like Ireland where we live. Almost every pub has vegetarian, vegan and even gluten-free food on the menu. Shops like Tesco have extensive sections for alternative meats etc.
In Croatia or Portugal, where we lived as well it’s a bit more difficult I’ll admit. Things are going forward but very slow. And the prices for “healthy” foods are extortionate.
Being vegan or cruelty-free is much harder. There are simply too many ingredients in even the most common foods that contain some part of an animal.
Which brings us to our question;
Are Smartphones Vegan?
The answer is no. They are not.
Tech products like smartphones are no exception unfortunately when it comes to exploiting people and animals. Their footprint is huge. Of the 83 stable and nonradioactive elements in the periodic table, at least 70 are found in your smartphone.
62 different types of metals and 16 of 17 rare Earth metals are found in your smartphone.
What Can You Do Then?
So, what can you do if you are a vegan or an aspiring vegan?
You can opt-out of using smartphones entirely.
I mean, it’s not like you can’t survive without a smartphone, right? Right? It would be rough though. And what about your computer, TV set etc. Unfortunately, TVs, computers and mobile phones with LCD displays may contain cholesterol taken from animals. Should we all just move to a hut in the middle of nowhere?
You could use your current phone until it gives up.
Just use the phone you’ve got til you run it into the ground. You already bought it so the damage is done. No reason to throw it out and actually make the problem worse by that.
Buy a used phone so you’re not contributing to an increase in demand.
Same as the last point. The damage was already done. You’re not making the demand any worse.
Can There Ever Be A Vegan Smartphone?
Probably not, unfortunately.
The company that’s doing the most effort to make a better, fairer phone is Fairphone. They are the first smartphone company to integrate Fairtrade gold into their supply chain. In 2013, Fairphone launched a movement for fairer electronics. They are into their third iteration of the Fairphone – the Fairphone 3. They are also very clear that they are not producing 100% fair phones yet.
To paint a picture of how hard it is to make a vegan or a fair phone in general, here is a telling quote from one of their moderators on the forum:
“Sad to say that the Fairphone 2 is not vegan. As is the case with the biggest part of the Fairphone: we still have to find out where most parts come from and how they are produced or what materials went into the producing.
Just analyzing the little pot of cleaning stuff that is used to finish of the black rim of the smart case, so we know what chemicals are in there and where they come from, takes time and effort.
We do know that in some parts of the Fairphone glue is being used and that glue often contains materials with an animal origin.
But where this glue is exactly produced and what we can do to make this glue producing facility to change to a more animal friendly alternative is still a few steps down the road towards fairer electronics.”