The Truth, Privilege & Responsibility of Plant-Based Diets

When you think of veganism, who do you envision in your mind? I think of a middle-to-upper-class young white woman who is very outgoing and not afraid to assert her thoughts on sustainability. The reason I think of this type of person is because of the constant representation of this particular demographic in the media. The fact that a certain image comes to mind is a problem and it ignores the fact that some groups are more privileged than others when it comes to accessibility to a plant-based lifestyle.



After becoming a vegetarian myself, it always made sense to me that the next step would be to transition to veganism. Going plant-based has been coerced in every way that I know. Social media, the news and even my own friends who are vegan have provided me with solid reasons to convert. 



However, after a recent conversation with a close friend of mine, we noticed that veganism is actually quite privileged and that there are many more reasons some people choose not to make the conversion. After significant research, we discovered that vegetarians and vegans are not just the occasional inconvenience at a dinner party. We are, in fact, very fortunate to even have access to what it takes for these dietary alternatives.



Food deserts, for instance, are densely populated areas where it can be problematic to try and find healthy and affordable food. It is sometimes the only option out of convenience to visit the corner store for the cheapest groceries available. Middle and lower-class people frequently cannot afford the luxuries of meat alternatives, especially when chicken nuggets and mac and cheese make for a quick and easy Friday night dinner for the family. Others have very chaotic and busy lifestyles, so it just makes sense to grab a frozen dinner or fast food on-the-go in order to make a living. 



There are even people out there who are not recommended to go plant-based because their body types cannot be supported by a vegan diet. Additionally, unhealthy relationships with food such as history with eating disorders can be a deterrent. 


We are told by accounts on social media platforms such as @wholesomeculture on Instagram to save the planet by going vegan or vegetarian, but it should be understood that not everyone has those options. 



In reality, vegans should be admired because they are doing what in a perfect world everyone should do for themselves and the Earth. However, if this lifestyle is out of your reach, do what you can to live sustainably—there are other options in addition to veganism! Others cannot change your habits and choices, but you can alter your own and do what you can personally to help the planet. 



It is important for vegans and vegetarians out there to be sympathetic of those who aren’t, and recognize that they have been granted an opportunity to not only have the ability to live this way, but also to make a difference by communicating their passion.



In conclusion, we could save the planet by doing what we can and using the resources and tools available to us instead of pressuring others to be sustainable in a certain way. Vegans and vegetarians alike need to recognize and respect other people’s dietary needs and decisions— based on anything from economic status to personal preference—and trust that they are making the right choices for themselves and their families. Going plant-based is an incredibly healthy and smart path to take towards a green future, but it isn’t for everyone. 



If you are interested in learning more about veganism and living sustainably, here are some great informational Instagram accounts:



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