Doing the Math

The abacus handling. The moral calculus.

The arithmetic serves the argument.

Jonathan Safran Foer writes about food politics.

Some argue that plant-based eating is elitist. They are either misinformed, or knowingly taking the favourite emergency exit of privileged, performatively thoughtful people who don’t want to change what they eat. It is true that a healthy traditional diet is more expensive than an unhealthy one – about $550 (£440) more expensive over the course of a year. And everyone should, as a right, have access to affordable healthy food. But a healthy vegetarian diet is, on average, about $750 (£600) less expensive per year than a healthy meat-based diet. In other words, it is about $200 (£160) cheaper per year to eat a healthy vegetarian diet than an unhealthy traditional diet. Not to mention the money saved by preventing diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer – all associated with the consumption of animal products. Nine per cent of Americans making less than $30,000 per year identify as vegetarian, whereas only 4% of those making more than $75,000 are. People of colour are disproportionately vegetarian. It is not elitist to suggest that a cheaper, healthier, more environmentally sustainable diet is better. But what does strike me as elitist? When someone uses the existence of people without access to healthy food as an excuse not to change, rather than as a motivation to help those people.

You may forget the numbers. You will remember the stark options: healthy plant-based diet or unhealthy meat-based diet.

And so for day 2535

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