The Sacramento Bee is running a surprising article on freegans. “Freegans?” you say? Yup…

Freegans are essentially vegans that will eat something non-vegan as long as it’s free/scavanged for. This means that they’ll dumpster dive and have a non-vegan pastry. For freegans, it’s more about making a conscious effort to not support the meat/dairy/egg industries than it is to simply not eat something. Can’t say I’d ever go dumpster diving, but I guess the general philosophy behind what they do makes some sense.

What’s most interesting is that the article doesn’t take the easy route and make freegans seem like freaks, but actually presents a relatively balanced look and focuses on why they do what they do.

26 Responses to “Freegans”

  1. vegan girl

    Wow…I think that these people are the ultimate in anti-consumerism. While I think that they are out of their fricking minds and will probably contract a food born illness one day I also admire them in a strange way. They actually practice what they preach, living it, and are committed to what they do. I don’t think that they mean any harm but I wouldn’t want to be one of them. I like my sanitary food that comes from the store ( I guess I am just not enlightened enough yet to appreciate a dumpster bagel yet) To each his own…But I want mine!

  2. susan

    Although I doubt I’ll become a freegan myself anytime soon, I definitely support the ideas behind their philosophy. That having been said, I have known some vegetarians and vegans who would eat meat or animal products if they were left over from someone else’s meal (which according to the article is one type of freeganism). Very few vegetarians associate only with other vegetarians so opportunities to eat a piece of meat or other animal product could potentially come up often. But in my experience, it always became a habit that actually did increase the demand for the product. Meat-eating friends would start to expect the other person to eat a little of their food and they would arrange to have more to go around. Also, I think if I ate meat occasionally in that manner I might regain my taste for it, which I have lost after years as a vegetarian. Which could lead to backsliding that I would feel at odds with myself about. At least when it comes to meat, certain variants of freeganism can be a slippery slope.

  3. Nathan Potter

    I was trying to coin a word for this kind of activity: freegan! I have been a little bit of a freegan myself in the past. Unfortunately, I am just stuck being an ordinary vegan for now, since there are no good dumpsters around here.

  4. Lois

    Go Freegans. It’s like the old picture called The Gleaners…people picking up the left culls in the field after the regular pickers have gone. Anything one can do to make a statement about the rampant consumerism and the industrial/meat complex, I am all for…Go Freegans. Perhaps I’ll try it in my town but maybe I will get a drop off point where people can pick up what I have scavenged if they are in need or recognize the value in this activity.

  5. Adam Weissman


    Freeganism is NOT about eating non-vegan stuff from dumpsters, though freegans may do that. Its about limiting consumption and support for the unjust methods of production behind ALL of the commodities we buy– includng vegan products. Many freegans are entirely or nearly vegan. Others choose not to be. The point is, true freeganism isn’t buying all your vegan stuff and then dumpstering the nonvegan. Its about trying to dumpster as high of a perecentage of the commodities you consume to recovered goods as you can of EVERYTHING, vegan or not.

  6. Lauren

    my name is lauren baker and i am writing a news article for my school newspaper about “Freegans”. i was wondering if there was anyone who would be willing to let me interview them via email, instant messaging, or phone. I’m from the pittsburgh area and would really appreciate it if anyone could help. Also, if you have any information for me that you would like people to read, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    my email is: [email protected]
    AIM: Faintofhearts310

    thank you,

  7. richard88282

    For over a year i collected most of my food on the streets of the upper east side of manhatten. I probably ate a more healthful diet during that time than at any other in my life. Lots of fresh fruit and veggies. there was a sandwich shop that threw out all their prepared sandwiches every evening and they supplied me with more roast beef, turkey, ham, asst. cheeses, etc. I had to avoid the bakerys to keep from gaining too much weight. A lot of non-food stuff i found on the street while foraging for food, I sold on the street to buy the things you never find, like ciggarettes.
    Also, dumpster diving, kept me busy, and carrying all that stuff home kept me in good physical shape.

  8. Jeff

    How do I do this stuff? I remember I used to do a lot of this sort of thing when I was still fairly young, but I’m a little hazy on it now. Anyway, the Portland eGroup is gone now. I’m either too friggin’ successful or don’t know anybody that’s still doing this risky behavior.(???)


  9. Bob Leonard

    Sorry but I just don’t get it. When I first heard of Freegans and tried to explain to some friends what it was, I thought there was more to it than dumster diving but the more I learn the more I realize it is primarily about dumster diving. I guess that’s ok with me but why use the VEGAN part of the name if what’s involved need not be in keeping with the vegan philosphy. Millions of “Why Vegan” pamphlets get distributed every year while freegans who want the public and expecially the media to identify them with VEGANS eat non vegan food – the freegan woman who was quoted in the London Times as saying she ate turkey for Thanksgiving was way over the top. How can in not be clear that this damages the concept of veganism and hurts the struggle for animal rights.

    Although I miss the logic that a fractional percentage of the population that eats discarded food, watches discarded flat screen tv or wears discarded designer clothing makes a statement agaist those who produce it, I don’t really have a problem with people who want to be freegans. As a vegan and animal rights activist I do have a problem with those freegans and apparently a freegan philosophy that accepts the practice of eating meat and other no vegan items and I guess cloths (is a free fur coat ok for the freegan who feasted on Turkey yesterday?). It just doesn’t make sense and I suspect a fair number of vegans would agree that eating free meat is just as bad as eating meat that is purchased. They feel that eating flesh is the issue and not what it costs or who produced it. Wish y’al would take the vegan aspect of freeganism out because obviously at least some freegans are not vegan and that percentage will likely climb. If you can’t do that it would be nice to see the animal and environmental aspect of the philosophy in media coverage – focus on that when interviewed and it will eventually get covered. Then again I’m not sure what percent of vegans support dumster diving as it may be their hope that we have made our way out of the finges. No offense intended to anyone, I just could not remain silent about this any longer.

  10. Sarah

    I just saw a report on 20/20 about the Freegan ways. I think it’s such an irresponsible choice. There is nothing LESS appealing than putting the garbage, that people’s hands, dog’s urine and the various bacteria on the street into your mouth. Though i’m appalled at the amount (apparently 40-50 %) that Americans waste in food every year, I HARDLY find this to be an acceptable or respectable solution. Handing out the food to other people, as apparently those featured on 20/20 did, is even more unacceptable. One Freegan claimed that she would give the food to the homeless on the Subway, as if they couldn’t rifle through the trash all on their own. It’s deceitful if you really think about it-giving out food under the assumption that you bought it and are generously giving it away. There is a reason for food inspections, and I’m not claiming that those inspections are without fault, but with no inspection at all…well, all I can say is, you’re on your own on this one. I’m disgusted.

  11. ash

    The idea of reducing waste and consumerism is great but there are others ways to do it. Freeganism makes an attempt to address animal rights, but by eating animals whether the food is free or not does not promote compassion towards animals.
    I’m not saying freegans do this, but the practice of eating animals out of a dumpster could very well be an excuse to eat flesh once more but feel better about themselves.

  12. Eva

    My take on freeganism is that it is a way to be flexible and let go of some of the rigidity that surrounds eating choices. It is always an adventure to boot when one is digging around in the dumspter. It is amazing how much food in the country goes to waste and how few take advantage of it. Sometimes it pays to be flexible when money is tight and food out there is being wasted.

  13. HEIDI

    They have a point of how the U.S wastes food, but come on.!!!! They are trying to prove a point but are going to get sick in the process!!!!!!!!!!
    Give me a break “FREAKINS’

  14. Okay

    I guess you can pet your dog and eat it to as long as you don’t pay for it? Hmmm, I will think about that. If they want to be of a pure non-capalistic view, why aren’t they growing the things they eat rather than digging in my gabage can for it? Seems to me that bums do the same thing. I didn’t know that were just looking for another title.

  15. Ed

    God bless the Freegans! Well done, guys!Good point! You are a living example of what Hewey Long (a presidential candidate from the 1930’s) once said: “America is like ten guys at a barbecue and the corporations are like the one guy who comes to the barbecue and takes the plate with ALL the food on it intended for the other NINE! Well, you’re just not gonna let that man walk away with the barbecue intended for everyone, are you?”
    Good idea you got, there. Well done! I like it! We need more folks like you who really understand what’s going on!

  16. chloe

    as someone who has chosen to follow a “freegan” diet, i’d like to say that dumpster diving isn’t an art, it’s just common sense. tons of places across the country throw out bags full of perfectly good food just because the packages are damaged, the arbitrary sell by date has passed, or they’ve decided to stop carrying the product on the shelves. it’s obviously unwise to take meats or dairy (with the exception of some yoghurts) because of spoilage, but grains, breads, bagels, cakes, cookies, root vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts are totally okay. i’m often amazed at the selection of untouched food and other things available in some dumpsters. you can find anything from packages of unopened chopsticks, to flowers, to bags of potatoes. most cities have inner circles of people who know which dumpsters to hit and on which nights. keep your ears open and talk to others and you’ll find that you could get just about anything you might need. if you find a ton of one thing, don’t let it go to waste. spread the wealth, no one deserves to go hungry.

  17. Kat

    I think it’s amazing how fast everyone is to dismiss this idea because they know absolutely nothing about it. A lot of items are thrown into dumpsters in the packaged containers they came in, all because maybe it was the wrong order, a jar of sauce broke and got on all the other jars of sauce and they were to lazy to clean them up, leftover donuts that were just bagged and tossed, things tossed out because they were close or at pull date etc… it’s not all just “hey I found a pile of rice in this dirty dumpster, lets eat it” A lot of it is in better condition then somethings in peoples homes! Also, to me it is much better to eat non vegan food if it is otherwise going to rot and sit in a dumpster. Besides, it isn’t supporting the laws of supply and demand-I mean if you are’t buying it, it doesn’t increase the demand (therefore, more animals aren’t hurt/killed in the process)

  18. ashwyn

    About eating dumpstered meat, I can understand people choosing not to eat it for themselves (mainly for health reasons, or not to get addicted to the taste etc…) however it is entirely unfair to be attacking others for eating it.

    Here is the situation: animal is killed because of human greed, animal’s flesh is left to rot because of human greed, ‘animal rights activists’ criticise people for putting the flesh to use.

    How does it harm the animal? It is already dead, and to top that off, it has probably lived a miserable life. Surely it would be a monumental insult to the creature that was, to declare that this animal must go through all of that and then be discarded as a useless hunk of meat?

  19. Danielle


    I’m a college student and once I’m done with my meal plan slavery, I intend to get a great deal of my sustinence from dumpster diving (that’s what we call it, I’ve never heard freegan). Anyway, sure, you can’t dive without the waste in the first place, but people who feel strongly about dumpster diving should put their money into other healthy food services like local produce, fair trade, and small business.

    We activists need to be aware of elitism. I think it is a good thing though. I am a vegetarian (headed towards veganism) and I probably wouldn’t eat animal products even from a dumpster because it’s a bit to carnal for me.

  20. pauline toale-harvey

    Dear Sirs..I heard about freeganism about three weeks ago on the radio[4]. Trouble is..I live in Essex..And I don’t get to know alot anything that either saves you money or makes your wages go further.. This freeganism sounds exactly right for making your “ends” meet.Can you tell me more about where to find the best skips to get your ‘rubbish’?[edible food..though maybe past it’s sellby date..] Are there any organizations in the Essex area that organize ‘Swar’ares’] around where these fruitful skips are? Thanking you..Yours Truly..Mrs. P.Toale-harvey..

  21. Barry

    I did’nt have a term for it, but there were two seperate times in my life that I got all of my food from dumpsters–in two different states. I was not vegan then, but I was a vegetarian. I had no problem finding non-meat & non-sugar foods. i too found plenty of fruits and vegetables. These were not dumpsters filled with muck, just dumpsters with food sitting in them. Also, bags and bags of potatoe chips, one day past the date–fresh and crispy still. Some stores would attempt to sabatoge “freeganism” by slitting open all thrown away bags.
    Later, I became a great consumer the capitalist way. I am still paying off a $10,000 credit card bill.

  22. Rob


    I am researching for project I’m undertaking on the subject of freegans and freeganism. This is for the British press. I am curious to know whether you would be willing to participate.

    Ultimately, I plan to write a feature on freeganism as a philosophy and profile several freegans. For the articles to be a success, I am very keen to hear the personal stories of freegans like yourself.

    If this is of interest to you, you can contact me by:

    Email: [email protected]
    Telephone: +44 (0) 790 96 288 20

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Robert Colville

  23. Mike

    There was an interesting story on the Today show this morning on Freeganism. In case you missed it the Web-site is

  24. takepillsdie

    Everyone is freegan. it’s just a matter of how you classify your activities. ..and, some people get more to the point. Why try? do or die! there is no tomorrow. There is nothing we need to survive! We are making it all up! Go within or go without. The only crazy is opposite of hazy, nowadays. Out of minds is where’s the finds. thank you :)

  25. Jes

    My roomates and I have been eating a combination of dumpstered and bought food for over 2 years now. Last winter, the Safeway garbage compacter broke and they were just piling the waste of the day(which was emptied every night so all waste was only sitting out for that day) and we would go down there after the store closed and load up a shopping cart to take home filled with fresh fruit, veggies, cheese,meat,juice, milk, flowers, baked goods, etc. There are obvious guidelines, like, understanding the difference between “Sell by” and “Consume by”. Alot of stuff is thrown out simply because it must be sold by a certain date in order to be worth the consumers money, you know? Like, you would not want to pay your own money on a product with limited shelf life when you could get the same product with a much longer shelf life. More recently our dumpster destination has been a newly opened “Choices” market, which sells both commercial and healthier options, as well as having a huge deli and bakery made with fresh, organic meat and ingredients. They sell there meat as “Fresh” and “Packed on that day” So, they cannot have it sitting in the store as long as larger supermarkets do, because people are paying a litter more for the fresher quality. So when we eat these products, they are actually sometimes FRESHER then the frozen-thawed versions at the supermarket. Some stuff is definitely sketchy, and our philosophy is always to over cook meat/dairy. And NEVER eat dumpster meat during the summer, unless you find it still frozen. Ultimately, we don’t really have any sort of political reason for eating this way, its just mostly because we’re all young and pretty broke, and we can eat a wide variety of healthy, fresh foods on a low budget, instead of eating what we are more economically able to, such as mcdonalds and chips.

  26. Chloe

    An award winning production company is on the lookout for an incredible story with a fascinating topic- Freeganism!!

    We’re looking for passionate Freegan families & individuals who value earth friendly, simplistic ways of living – and pass those views onto their children & friends around them.

    If you know any outspoken, outgoing, lively people who are passionate about their beliefs and their lifestyle – and are eager to teach others what it’s all about, please let me know! :)

    This is research for a potential TV series so the more people we can meet the better!

    PLEASE contact me ASAP – [email protected]

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