Questioning the ethics of veganism

Madeleine Chan, Profiles Editor

I have always grown up in a food-conscious household. My mother tries a different diet every other week. My father doesn’t eat any red meat. My sister has been a hardcore vegetarian since we were young and even my brother was a pescetarian for a time. Despite all of this, I cannot seem to stop myself from eating meat. Whether it’s bacon every Sunday morning, having a good burger after a long day or chowing down on some Chick-fil-A, meat has always been an essential part of my diet.

Every once in a while, whether in person or on social media, I see vegans attempt to push their diets onto meat eaters such as myself. We all know those types of vegans – they see themselves as saving the planet and superior to all, not understanding why everyone can’t try veganism. I live in Naperville, so it’s not hard to eat healthy, with Whole Foods and vegan-friendly restaurants everywhere. For others, it’s not so simple.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 23.5 million people live in food deserts, meaning there isn’t a grocery store within 10 miles of their home. Nearly half of them are also low-income. Because of this, the only way those families can get their food is through gas stations or small corner grocery stores, which sell mainly pre-packaged food. This means that many Americans are unable to eat healthy at all, let alone eat ethical, vegan food.

Along with this, regardless of living in a food desert, eating healthy is more expensive. According to Harvard’s school of public health, eating on a healthy diet can cost an individual about $1.50 more per day. With 78 percent of American workers living paycheck to paycheck, according to CNBC, adding that $1.50 per day could have a serious impact on their lives.

Furthermore, those adopting veganism for environmental reasons fail to recognize the mammals they aren’t saving – people.

According to The Independent, Western demand on more exotic, healthy foods, such as avocado and quinoa, have driven up prices in the local market where that food is grown.

In Mexico, where avocados originate, the country has seen a shortage in production because of the high demand, and the price for two pounds of the fruit is worth Mexico’s minimum wage of $4. In the Andes, two pounds of quinoa cost locals $7, more expensive than chicken in the area.

Veganism comes with good intentions, whether it be for health or environmental reasons. For me, veganism is just an annoying trend I see on social media. However, for many, veganism is not a feasible way of life. For others, veganism has destroyed their lifestyle and their culture.