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#Veganism is booming in large cities!
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Food Food Vegan

Veganism and sustainability are more than just a hip lifestyle

The fact that so many entrepreneurs are working on sustainability is good, but we must not forget that structural changes have to be made.
The worst that can happen to the vegan community is getting reduced to a hip lifestyle choice for highly educated city dwellers
Veganism is booming in cities like Amsterdam: the Vegan Junk Food Bar will soon open its third branch in the city, on top of the dozens of other vegetarian and vegan restaurants that already exist.
A white bowl with veggie green on a lap
Vegan salade © istock

Consumer society

The fact that so many entrepreneurs are working on sustainability is very good. That there are so many vegan choices in restaurants and supermarkets, too: that was different ten years ago. Yet sustainable and animal-friendly food and clothing has undeniably received a consumeristic, sometimes even decadent, component.
There are, of course, still many people who have been making that choice consistently for a very long time from their own convictions. But in addition, environmental awareness and vegan food are becoming part of the choice palette of a broader urban class, thus highlighting its awareness of what is going on in the world. And showcase, because Instagram was invented to share that you buy and eat things (the vegan cheeses above are photographed several times a day).

Sustainable and animal-friendly food and clothing has received a consumeristic, sometimes even decadent, component

You could call it 'conspicuous consumption', gaudy consumption. The term was forged by economist Thorstein Veblen, who - over a hundred years ago - described how the rich with silver cutlery and golf tournaments showed their prosperity and good taste.

In a recent book Elizabeth Currid-Halkett examines showy consumption in 2018: a new class is emerging, she says, from well-educated townspeople - from freelance journalists to surgeons - who have different backgrounds and incomes, but share the same cultural capital and consumption preferences that seem surprisingly similar worldwide. Lattes (with oat milk) of five euros drink in nice coffee bars, for example. Find health important, and do a lot of sports or yoga (in stylish yoga pants). Visit festivals, have a record player. To have a preference for local, 'honest' products ('conspicuous production'). And of course organic food, and preferably vegetarian or vegan.
bowl with bread and vegetables
That the latter is becoming increasingly popular is very good - and with none of the other choices is something wrong. Some of my best friends sometimes drink a latte with oatmeal milk, but those who consume what they consume show that they understand what is important and are aware of, for example, climate change. It is already the case that young people with a good education who live in the city are more likely than others to deal with the environment and sustainable consumption

To convince more people to eat vegan, more affordable vegetable food is needed in the supermarket

In order to convince more people to start eating vega (n), more affordable vegetable food is needed in the supermarket than a large selection of expensive granola bars. If, on the other hand, sustainable choices are only seen as an expensive toy from highly-educated people, this can only reduce support for measures against climate change, for example.

Buying conscience

We will not save the world with expensive vegan junk food and bags from old car tires alone. Small and large companies will, in the coming years, appeal more often than ever to green and sustainable values ​​when promoting their products, with the aim of moving us to 'commodity activism': buying things that give us the feeling that we are doing something right. That is an effective marketing strategy, but world problems can not be reduced to making the right purchase decisions.

World problems can not be reduced to making the right purchase decisions

Engaging in veganism and sustainability is at the very heart of politics: you can try to make the right choices yourself and lead the way, but in the end that is a drop on a hot plate and structural changes have to be made to, for example, put an end to the whole industrial agriculture and livestock farming.
Too much focus on consumption is depolishing: it places the responsibility for change on individual consumers who have to make the right choices, instead of with society as a whole.
The worst thing that can happen to the environmental movement and the vegan community is that they are increasingly being reduced to a hip lifestyle choice for highly educated city dwellers.

By: Kevin Levie, knack.be

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