Veganism and privilege: A Vegansaurus editorial »
We had a post the other day about veggies being cheaper than people acknowledged, and it garnered some responses that called it insensitive to greater structures of food politics. We know the cost of food isn’t the sole determiner in the diet of many people, but the fact remains that many people think veganism is expensive because fruits and veggies are more expensive than non-vegan food.
That post brings to light studies that have shown that veggies are actually not expensive when compared to other foods. It didn’t say that everyone can walk to the corner and buy vegetables. The studies simply show that veggies are actually more affordable then they are made out to be. If we don’t have that information, we can’t move on to discuss what does make vegetables unaffordable or inaccessible.
When someone writes in response to that post that “this is (a big part of) why I am done with vegansaurus and the main(er)stream veg* activism framework,” it troubles us. It makes us think that you’re not reading the site very closely. Which is fair, there are about 10,000 posts a day. However, this isn’t the first post we’ve ever had about food accessibility. We’ve written about food accessibility on Vegansaurus many times, and about healthy school lunches—which affects children with limited options and resources—on multiple occasions. We understand the difference between poverty and college-educated living-on-a-tight-budget.
It bothers us that people consistently use “privilege” as an attack against veganism. Yes, being able to make decisions about your food is a privilege—for this very reason, many people with little options are in fact vegetarian or vegan, by default. But food decisions aren’t the only privilege; caring about and fighting an issue that doesn’t directly affect you is a privilege. Any animal rights activist has the privilege of time and energy to dedicate to helping animals. That, really, is beyond privilege. It’s a responsibility. If you are able to, you should be helping others. If you are able to, you should be vegan.
Honestly, we’ve never had a genuinely poor person say tell us that “being vegan is expensive;” it’s always people in our socio-economic group. We’re not swimming in riches, and maybe even paying rent is hard sometimes, but if you are wealthy enough to live on your own, or even with a few roommates, you are wealthy enough to be vegan. How many times have we heard the argument “WHAT ABOUT KIDS IN AFRICA WHO DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO EAT? ARE YOU GOING TO FORCE THEM TO BE VEGAN?” To which we say A) you totally think Africa is a country, don’t you?; and B) NO, We’re talking about your privileged ass, you cask-ale-drinking jerk.
We recognize that having food choices is privileged; we also realize that having internet access and tumblr accounts and time to write about the things we care about is privileged. Having time to read about the things you care about is a privilege. That’s how we know most people who are reading this post right now have the ability to go vegan—right now.
While you’re at it, you can also work on food sovereignty, and preaching to other liberals who fully understand food deserts about how they’re not liberal enough to understand food deserts in the same complex way that you do. Now get out there and start baking vegan fair-trade organic cupcakes and delivering them on bike to your West Oakland neighbors. We’ll do the same.
This Vegansaurus editorial was brought to you by Meave, Megan and Laura! xoxoxo!