Why is Vegan Food So Expensive? | Teen Ink

Why is Vegan Food So Expensive?

July 28, 2021
By Jena SILVER, Sunnyvale, California
Jena SILVER, Sunnyvale, California
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

A vegan lifestyle is often characterized as luxurious and unaffordable. As a vegan myself, this baffled me because a typical plant-based diet of unprocessed foods consists of rice, pasta, beans, fruits, and vegetables—some of the cheapest ingredients to produce.


Instead of asking 'why is vegan food so expensive?' I began asking 'why are meat and dairy so cheap?'


It is no secret that fast food joints can sell hamburgers and other nonvegan concoctions for unbeatable prices. However, this is not because producing meat and dairy is significantly cheaper than producing other foods; it is instead because of government subsidies. According to recent data from Meatonomics, American taxpayers spend $38 billion each year to subsidize meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. To put this in perspective, fruit and vegetable subsidies only account for about 0.04% of that ($17 million). Since subsidies make animal products inexpensive, they ultimately drive demand up and encourage Americans to consume more meat than the USDA recommends.


These government payouts don't actually help many farmers though because big corporations receive the majority of funds. This practice allows large factory farms to grow and destroy local economics. In just the last 15 years, two-thirds of American farmers didn’t receive any money from direct subsidies (Meatonomics). Moreover, subsidies do not improve harsh labor practices or increase wages for those working in the meat industry.


Some people say that the United States food system is broken. I don't think this is true. It works exactly the way it was intended to—big businesses profit while the climate, human health, and small farms all suffer.

The author's comments:

My name is Jena, and I'm currently a high school student from the United States. Through this essay, I hope to raise awareness about why veganism is often viewed as expensive.

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