On Facebook recently, a vegan spokesperson promoted a maple tempeh and fresh vegetable recipe as evidence to how cheap and easy veganism is. Actually, their exact words leading up to the link were: "ADVENTURES IN THE STUPIDITY OF SAYING THAT BEING VEGAN IS EXPENSIVE AND DIFFICULT". Without even looking past the title, I can assure you right now that there is little cheap or easy about maple syrup, tempeh, or fresh vegetables. But let's investigate further.
Here are the ingredients with estimated cost:1, 2
- 8 oz package tempeh ($3)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, coconut oil or olive oil ($4-10)
- 1/3 red cabbage, thinly sliced ($1-2)
- 2 -3 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally ($2)
- 2 -3 scallions, thinly sliced ($1)
- sesame seeds, garnish ($3-5)
- cilantro, garnish, optional ($1)
- 8 oz. package soba noodles, or rice would fine too ($1-4)
- 1/3 cup mirin ($3)
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup ($5-10)
- 3 tablespoons warm water (~$0!)
- 2 tablespoons tamari, bragg’s aminos or soy sauce ($3-5)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste ($1)
Potential price of this meal: $47
To insist that such an ostentatious and expensive meal is easy and affordable and to suggest anyone who disagrees is "stupid" is about as privileged and arrogant as it gets. Tempeh, maple syrup, tamari, soba noodles, and mirin? Sesame oil? Bragg's or tamari? Scallions? These are luxury items, things people purchase on the occasional pay day if they're lucky enough to even live somewhere where this stuff is even sold. My spellchecker isn't even picking half of them up.
The recipe also requires a bamboo steamer. Who in the world has access to bamboo steamers except people living near Asian grocers or high end kitchen appliance stores?4
|Please direct me to your tempeh selection!|
1. These are my own price estimates which reflect my geographic areas (having lived in rural Virginia and a major city in Colorado). These are only estimates. I cannot afford to buy most of these products often, so I may not be completely accurate in my estimation. I have not divided any costs from the possibility that items may be bought in bulk (like a bag of carrots or a bottle of olive oil). I'm basing this on a grocery list that someone new to veganism and these exotic ingredients would have to compile. This is offset by the fact that some people will live in areas where specialty ingredients are more affordable and accessible. If someone lives near an Asian grocer, they will be paying maybe $3 for a package of sesame seeds. If they do not and must rely on a regular grocery store chain, they will likely pay twice that.
2. This recipe makes approximately two servings.
3. Incidentally, I reject the use of disableist language which is unfortunately a favorite tactic for many vegan educators.
4. Actually, I got a bamboo steamer for Christmas last year. My mom found a 25 year old one for $1 at a yardsale. A stroke of luck, not access.