Is Vegetarianism a Privilege?

Who comes to mind when you imagine avegetarian?

If you envision someone who is white, wealthy andbuys 100 percent organic and GMO-free produce at Whole Foods, you’re not alone.

Although folks of all backgrounds go cruelty-free, it can be easier for some groups to make the switch than others. This World Vegetarian Day,consider how vegetarianism and privilege collide.

1. Money plays a role

According to a 2015poll, people who make less than $50,000 a year are significantly more likely to be vegetarian than those with higher incomes.Furthermore, people of colormore often forgo meat than white folks.

These statistics can make it easy to claimthat low incomes don’t stop people from becoming vegetarians. However, they don’t tell the whole story.

As psychologist Hal Herzog writesin the Huffington Post,the sample sizemay be too small torepresent the whole U.S. population. Furthermore, a Harvard study shows that ahealthy diet costs$1.50 more a day than an unhealthy one.

This cost is harder for poorer families to handle, especially if they happen to live in a food desert where fresh options aren’t as available.

2. Certain people have more choices

People who don’t worry aboutthe cost of food oftendecide to eat meat or not. However, others don’t get that freedom.

Take the homeless. As Care2‘s Danielle Corcione notes, food banks oftenrely on non-perishable donations, which areusuallyprocessed foods other people don’t want — and they may or may not be vegan or vegetarian. Furthermore, even though exceptions exist, many programs don’t serve meat-free meals.

School children don’t always get an option. No laws say that kids need a vegetarian offering in school lunches. And that particularly limits the diets of low-income children on free and reduced-price lunches.

3. Perception matters

It is possibleto go meat-free on a strict budget.

Staples like rice and beans are cheap, and food stamp recipients in some states can buy twice the fresh, local produce they’d otherwise buy withDouble-Up Food Bucksprograms. At the same time, many criticsfrown on people who spend public assistance money on more expensive health foods.

We need to redefine who a vegetarian is. More importantly, we must fight an unequal food system that makes it harder for some people toadopt vegetarian diets than others.

If we want to liberate animals, we need to liberate people too.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Amanda M
Amanda M19 days ago

Thanks for sharing

Amanda M
Amanda M19 days ago

Thanks for sharing

AL Lim28 days ago

luckily where I live, vegetables, fruits and vegetarian and vegan cooked food are readily available and affordable, often less expensive than meat.

Kathryn I
Kathryn Iabout a month ago

Petition signed - Noted - Thanks

John W
John Wabout a month ago

The term privilege is very overused

David Anderson
David Andersonabout a month ago

It seems that another significant factor is being overlooked. A healthy diet, vegetarian or otherwise, is much more time consuming than simply eating what is readily available. This is particularly true of those who travel a lot and cannot afford to eat every meal someplace with a tablecloth.

Laura K
Laura Kabout a month ago


Sue H
Sue Habout a month ago

Food for thought.

Kimberly Wallace
Kimberly Wallaceabout a month ago


Mona Pietsch
Mona Pietsch1 months ago