The Importance of Veganism in Economically Deprived Communities

In economically deprived communities in the United States, health problems hit people harder than they do in other places because, despite Obama Care, there is still a tremendously inequitable distribution of health resources. Therefore, it becomes even more important to educate people in those communities about how animal foods are harming them, and how a plant-based diet can be healthier and less expensive than a diet involving animal foods. It is also important to stress how many healthy meals can be made easily and with a minimum of time and effort.

When I hear people spouting off about how it’s “elitist” to say that veganism is easy, or that veganism is a matter of “white privilege,” I am reminded of something a Black activist said many years ago (a paraphrase): “The standard American diet is the slave master’s revenge. We’ve got to educate poor people everywhere that the food in poor communities is as dangerous as the drugs.”

Finally, the idea that people in economically deprived communities cannot understand or identify with the message of animal rights is nonsense. I teach in a University in one of the poorest cities in the United States. Many people in that community understand the moral message more readily than many in affluent communities.

What is truly elitist is the position that some people, whether “single mums” (as someone from the UK animal welfare group Viva! said in a debate I had) or people in depressed urban areas, can’t understand veganism as a moral baseline.

I should add that the “animal advocates” who promote the “veganism is elitist” and “it’s not easy for the poor to go vegan so it is not a moral baseline for them” positions are all people who promote or support transparently speciesist positions.


If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option—it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University Law School

©2016 Gary L. Francione