This one is for the vegans:
Although the number of people who consider themselves vegan is growing, veganism as a diet and a lifestyle is still in the minority. Many people do not understand what it is or don’t think it’s a realistic diet for for health, economic or social/cultural reasons.
And while I would like to see my planet full of vegans, I don’t think one should just dismiss these concerns. In fact, I believe that there are legitimate reasons a person might have to not become vegan. In order to effectively advocate for veganism, one must carefully examine the reasons holding people back and respect how difficult these barriers are to overcome. In fact, recognizing these barriers is helpful to understanding the difficulties we may have faced ourselves or even currently struggle with. Perhaps if we are better able to relate to and understand the challenges that prevent others from becoming vegan, or even remaining vegan, we might be able to better respond to these issues. To me, veganism is first and foremost about compassion. What better way to experience compassion than to strive to understand the experiences of others?
I plan on thinking through a number of different reasons people have for not going vegan, so this section on expense is the first in a series I look forward to writing!
I have heard a number of times that the cost barrier is not legitimate reason to become vegan, as some of the healthiest, protein and nutrient-filled foods are whole, plant based foods (such as legumes). While this statement is true, it does make a lot of assumptions.
It assumes that all people have access to the information (internet, books, library) to learn how to prepare these foods or even to know to seek out these foods.
It assumes universal literacy, as most of the available information on eating healthily and cheap is in print.
It assumes that everyone has access to healthy foods, while in reality many people live in areas that may not have healthy foods in an accessible location (either they are too far, nonexistent or difficult to get to without a car).
It assumes leisure time. Not everyone has the time in their daily schedules to educate themselves on cooking healthy vegan foods. Some people work multiple jobs while also having to take care of children or other family members, and simply not have the time or energy to learn how to eat vegan. This is a huge problem in our society. It’s so important to remember your privilege and realize that not everyone has the same opportunities or resources.
Many of these issues are closely connected with the same structures preventing people in poverty from eating healthy food in general. This is not a coincidence, and I believe the solution to both of these issues is in many ways interconnected. As an ethical vegan, I strive to end cruelty and suffering in the world. And I hope for others to join me.
However, if we hope to make it possible for a wider rage of people to become vegan, we should consider issues such as access to education, resources and economic justice as part of our mission.