A post on the Serious Eats blog pointed me towards PETA's list of regular grocery store items that just so happen -- through no intention on the part of the companies that produced them -- to be vegan.
Here are a few items that made the list: Corn Pops, Unfrosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts, Reese's Puffs, Kool-Aid, Cracker Jack, Barbecue Fritos, Krispy-Kreme Fruit Pies, Chocolate Creme Oreos, Swedish Fish, Campbell's Franco-American Mushroom Gravy, McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning (oh, so useful for those who don't eat chicken), French's Beef Stew Mix (wtf? ), Smucker's Goober Grape Peanut Butter, Smart Squeeze Fat Free Margarine.
I've never seen a less compelling argument for veganism. I'm not vegan, but I can do much better. How about spicy black bean soup with fresh-baked rolls and a spinach salad?
Do the folks at PETA not realize that many of these products are made with genetically modified soy and corn; that the pesticides sprayed on conventional crops kill innocent insects and are likely dangerous to birds and probably humans; and that growing, processing and shipping these products damages the environment?
How about the fact that as delightful as sugary cereals and meat-free-gravy-in-a-can might taste, they are filled with unhealthy high-fructose corn syrup and weird food additives, and replace healthier foods in people's diets? And there's this: Building the supermarkets that sell 'em, their parking lots, and the roads that get people there destroyed wildlife habitat forever. How good does that Airheads Taffy taste now, huh?
If you truly love animals and you want to be a (healthy) vegan, stay away from this highly-processed crap and eat fresh, minimally-processed products and whole foods. If you love animals but aren't a vegetarian, eat them thoughtfully and thankfully (and only those that are ethically raised and local, if you can afford to). And no matter what kind of diet you choose, do your damndest to protect the environment.