The Privilege of Picky Eating


The ability to choose one’s diet is a luxury. This includes the ability to choose to eat meat at every meal, or the ability to choose to abstain from it. It really has little to do with veganism itself, and more to do with privilege. To be able to eat what you want, say no to free food that isn’t vegan, and to be able to afford vegan speciality foods, isn’t a luxury most people can accommodate. The argument of ‘vegan staples are cheap’ (rice, beans, grains) is kind of a stretch considering nobody actually lives off just rice and brocoli, not in contemporary industrialized society anyway.


The argument about veganism being a white privilege permeates deeper than just financial; it includes the fact that racial discrimination and injustice still prevail in the world, and it’s hard to see so many white people (most vegans in the US are white) defending animal rights while so many other injustices are happening on home turf. Of course there is no reason why we can’t demand social change for several things at once, the main issue is identifying how these injustices are intersectional and linked.


Racism, the systemic mistreatment of people based on their ethnicity or skin color, affects all aspects of our society, including our food system. While racism has no biological foundation, the socio-economic and political structures that dis- possess and exploit people of color, coupled with widespread misinformation about race, cultures and ethnic groups, make racism one of the more intractable injustices causing poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Racism, individual, institutional and structural also impedes good faith efforts to build a fair, sustainable food system. Think about access to information and resources; the neighbourhoods or areas where certain kinds of foods are available is not a coincidence, it’s structural planning, cultural norms and the disproportionate distribution of wealth. Organic non GMO foods are priced higher than their industry engineered counterparts, because the industrial food industry prides cost effectivity over sustainable practice. When every dollar counts, faced with the choice between the cheapest or healthiest option, the majority of families in the US and in fact all countries that reflect a striking wage gap, have very little room to even consider it. When dollars are flexible however, it becomes much easier to make a choice in the best interests of our health over our pockets, especially when there’s a farmer’s market on your street corner instead of a fast fried food joint.


Recognizing racism as foundational in today’s capitalist food system helps explain why people of color suffer disproportionately from its environmental externalities, labor abuses, resource inequities and diet related diseases. It also helps explain why many of the promising alternatives such as land trusts, farmers’ markets, and community supported agriculture tend to be dominated by people who are privileged by whiteness. Making these alternatives readily accessible to people of color requires a social commitment to racial equity and social justice. Ensuring equity of access to healthy food, resources and dignified, living wage jobs, would go a long way towards ‘fixing’ the food system, making vegan and healthy eating in general, less of a privilege and more of a choice.

For bomb & easy vegan recipes, visit by Kenny!