Is veganism a first world luxury?

Blogger Maya Tilley, whose article I don’t want to link to in order not to give it any more exposure (it got 6000+ shares), states that “veganism is a first world luxury“. She came to this opinion after witnessing how a vegan friend apparently made a scene about a chia pudding not being vegan because it had sugar in it.

Now, as may be clear from other posts on my blog, I’m not pro purity, and if her tirade against vegans can help some of us to be a bit less purist, she might be providing the vegan movement a service. She also writes, rightly in my eyes: “Repeat after me: as soon as you use a Holocaust analogy, you lose the argument.”

The point she tries to make is that in a chronically undernourished world, if you can choose what to put on their plate means that “you have food and class privilege that others simply have not.”

This is, of course, stating the obvious. What is less obvious is the conclusion she draws from this fact: “it’s a bit of a douche move to assert that it’s unethical for humans to consume animal products”. No idea how this follows, but logical or not, it is a popular argument amongst onmivores, many of whom are constantly on the lookout for reasons to keep eating meat.

I would argue that it is exactly because we can afford this luxury of eating vegan, that we should. It is exactly because we can choose what to put on our plate, that we should put the best food (ethically, sustainably, I mean) on our plate. All other conclusions seem weird to me.

The author almost finishes ok when she writes:

“Stop the guilting. Stop the piousness. Get some perspective. Become a little more conscious of the privilege you’re exerting by taking veganism on as “your cause”.

But then she spoils it by adding:

And remember that many of us meat-eaters have made the conscious decision to put our time and money to causes that help ensure humans have access to food. Because in our eyes, that’s more important than worrying about whether the sugar in your $23 dessert exploits animals in some roundabout way.

Puh-leaze ma’am! First of all, why focus on vegans who at least worry about something, while many omnivores have dishes that are a lot more expensive than this (though I have yet to come across the first $23 dessert) without worrying about anything?

Secondly, our reservoir of compassion is not limited. Minding one thing doesn’t mean you can’t mind something else. Veganism is not a full time job.

Thirdly and obvioulsy, bringing down meat consumption is one of the best things we can do to alleviate the hunger problem.

And fourthly, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a really big correlation between veganism and minding other social issues of all kinds.

Let’s take some lessons from this, and discard the rest.