Vegan lifestyle often pretentious, only possible for privileged minority

Opinions Editor | Journalism junior

While a vegan lifestyle can be positive for some, the pretentious attitude many vegans carry is not, and comes off as privileged and ignorant.

Do not get me wrong—I am not bashing veganism as a whole. I think the vegan diet is, for many, a positive way to reduce one’s environmental impact and to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.

Moral issues aside, animal-based products require more space and money to produce, and create pollution in the process. From an environmental perspective, the vegan diet is a positive way to protest the meat industry and the way it affects the world around us.

Many vegans choose their diet not only because of the environmental benefits it offers, but because they have a moral opposition to the consumption and production of meat. This moral position would be fine if only many vegans did not feel the need to foist their opinions upon others. Even household pets have been forced to adhere to vegan diets at the behest of their owners—a choice that often leaves animals at the very least malnourished and at the worst, dead. Even animals sent for slaughter do not have to endure such drawn out torture.

My point is veganism is not for everyone, period. The stereotype of the militant vegans who, much like dogmatic bible-thumpers, feel the need to lecture and convert any and all humans who adhere to a standard diet is unfortunately rooted in truth.

Regardless of the benefits and drawbacks to veganism, no one should ever feel they are justified in shoving their opinions down the throats of others. Not only is doing so rude, but it ends up scaring off people who otherwise might have given the cause a chance.

Those who choose a vegan diet are completely justified in their decision, but must realize they are coming from a very privileged position. Not only do vegans have access to dietary information, they have the money, time and means to prepare restrictive meals. These facts are often taken for granted in arguments for veganism.

Because of this, militant vegans tend to come off as completely ignorant to the struggles of the working class. Many argue vegan diets need not be expensive, and ingredients for vegan meals are easily accessed and often very affordable. While this is true to a degree, many vegan staples such as olive oil, tofu and dairy alternatives are far from cheap.

Furthermore, for many lower-class families, neighborhood grocery stores are either inaccessible or do not have a wide selection of fresh produce. According to a Food Research and Action Center report, low-income neighborhoods often lack full-service grocery stores with a variety of produce for sale. Even if families do have access to such a grocery store, products such as hamburger meat, eggs and bread are often cheaper and more filling than vegan options.

A vegan diet is out of the question for those with certain religious beliefs, allergies or living situations. Assuming that anybody has the ability to adapt to a vegan diet is a privileged assumption indeed, and one reason why many vegans have come to be seen as patronizing and pretentious in the public eye.

I have no problem with vegans or veganism in general. I only start to take issue with the lifestyle and its adherents when others are forced to endure painfully privileged lectures about what they should or should not eat. While veganism can be a positive lifestyle choice for some, it is not for everyone, and that is a fact vegans should take care to remember.