“Being rich means you get to worry about everything except money."
- Johnny Cash
I’m going to propose a theory. You clicked on this article for one of two following reasons:
- You disagree with the notion and came here slightly or totally enraged by this blasphemous statement bashing the purest of all the movements, ready to find loopholes in my logic and tear me to pieces, as the vegan warrior that you are
- You agree with the stated fact and you thought this piece might provide empirical data confirming your worldview, so you can indeed continue without changing habits and potentially maybe even share the article, sticking it to vegans once and for all
If you feel you don’t belong to any of the two groups, I’m sorry. It’s hard not to belong. Sometimes, I feel it too. Now I probably have to explain why I said “veganism IS for the rich”, besides always loving me a good, thick grandiose statement.
I’d say that just by coming to read this article, you are rich. No poor person has the time to read this. But obviously, you do have time to be here, meaning you have the mental bandwidth to explore such a concept, hence you are rich. “But Mr. Article Author, I don't feel rich,” you murmur quietly to yourself. Well, let’s then touch on what “not rich” really means.
I noticed how my approach to food changed when I started making normal money. When my salary got its first bump was actually the first time I thought about food in a different way than just “filling my hungry hole”. I stopped thinking about rent or other “survival” worries that come with living day-to-day, week-to-week. I later found out this concept has a name - the theory of scarcity. Proposed and written by Princeton University psychology and public affairs professor Eldar Shafir, PhD and Harvard University economist Sendhil Mullainathan, PhD in their groundbreaking paper from 2012 called “Some consequences of having too little”. The gist of it is the following: when you are in survival mode, scarcity consumes you. You don’t have the mental bandwidth to make good decisions. You are in a context in which anyone would make bad decisions. That’s what being poor is like. It’s like having many apps open on your computer and consequently not being able to process complex things.
Nutritionally speaking, that means that in “scarcity mode” you don’t think about food in terms of “properly feeding your microbiome and at the same time being environmentally and ethically responsible”. Veganism is not on your plate, nor is any diet. You just continue eating whatever you were taught to eat as a child or worse - whatever you get your hands on.
So, what does it mean to be rich? Millions in your bank account? Bathing in a marble bathroom with gold details? Eating 24k gold encrusted cereal? Nah. We need a more chill definition of rich. I propose the following notion: being rich is the state of living, where one does not have to worry about survival. The mental bandwidth unlocked by that is immense. Now, how we use that bandwidth is a whole different story. Arguably, we use it poorly. Money is on our radar, not wealth. We misunderstand wealth, so unfortunately, we use much of our mental capacity searching for love in the wrong places, doing stuff that makes us feel poor, while our ancestors who battled famines and fought mighty beasts look down on us and laugh at our bitch-asses.
Anyhow, I still firmly believe my statement stands. Veganism is for the rich. I just think being rich is a much more down-to-earth concept than we are drilled daily to believe. Heck, if having a roof over your head, food on the table, love and companionship ain’t being rich, I don’t know what is.
Now we here
While many diet presentations tend towards the affluent, eating vegan in fact does not have to be expensive. Not many “budget cooking” shows make it to the mainstream, that's all. Consequently, we often associate veganism with the likes of the expensive “alternative food” aisle. But it’s much more like beans - ubiquitous, cheap as fuck, and yet immensely nutritious. Of course, it behaves like any other diet - the more money you have, the more exotic and premium your ingredients will be. But the basic package is still available.
You know what's expensive? Meat. Affordable meat is a mirage and it comes at a premium cost of animal, human and planetary health. We tend to believe processed food is bad, but gladly gorge on that cheap-ass, hormone and antibiotic-infested meat and other meat-esque pink dyed products. And then we take our $1000 dollar phone to argue on Twitter under a stranger's post how “veganism is for the elite”. Bitch, if you got time for that, you got time to read about the health benefit of beans.
Yeah, only rich people have time to read about nutrition. Only rich people can study the connection between animal agriculture and climate change. Only rich people have the luxury to read how microorganism diversity in our gut is key for our health. Only rich people have time to read half-assed philosophy, such as this article. So congratulations, you are rich. 🤑