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Opinion

Being vegan is a position of privilege

Vegan food either requires more money than animal-based foods or more time. And that’s assuming you even have access to a grocery store that carries plant-based alternatives to meat.

Being vegan is more expensive to be vegan than it is to be omnivorous. For example, at Superstore here in Lethbridge a package of a dozen veggie dogs cost $4.98; a package of a dozen regular hot dogs is $2.28. A 2-litre carton of soy milk is $3.98; a 2-litre carton of cow’s milk is $3.68. A package of ground round is $1.11 per 100 grams; a package of regular ground beef is $0.61 per 100 grams.

If you don’t use prepackaged meat subsitute products, it’s less expensive. For example, to make a meat-based bolognese sauce, I would use crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ground beef, and maybe a bit of seasoning. That would cost me about $7.30. Making a vegan version without prepackaged meat substitutes would require crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, vegetable broth, canned lentils, canned chickpeas, and soya sauce. That would cost me about $6.19.

However, not using prepackaged meat substitutes requires more time. I could fry onions, garlic, and ground beef in 5–10 minutes, and adding the crushed tomatoes and simmering would take a few more minutes. However, dicing and sauteeing mushrooms and onions; mincing and sauteeing garlic; and draining, rinsing, mashing, and frying chickpeas and lentils takes way more time. Plus, I also add shredded carrots. It probably takes me at least an hour to make a decent vegan bolognese sauce.

So, vegan food either requires more money than animal-based foods or more time. And that’s assuming you even have access to a grocery store that carries plant-based alternatives to meat.

Also, something to keep in mind is the production of plant-based products. For example, for every tonne of soybeans produced in the US and Canada, two tonnes are produced outside of the US and Canada. And soy is a major component of plant-based meat substitute products. Food production in the global south uses lower labour costs, both in terms of wages and in terms of worker protections. We don’t need to grow our own soybeans, because we are in a position of privilege that allows us to buy them from the store after they are grown and harvested by someone who has less than we do. At a far lower cost than if we tried to grow and process the soybeans ourselves.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on social issues and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him.

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