I live in a country that has 27% unemployment, low literacy levels and the worlds highest gini coefficient ie the worlds largest national wealth gap. It’s no wonder we have massive distrust of national institutions coupled with constant nation wide protests. This is a situation that is untenable. At some point bad things will happen if the malaise that cripples our nation is not addressed. I’ve always wondered; what are the effective ways of solving these massive challenges, and I’ve come to realize that veganism is perhaps the best way to address social inequality.
A good starting point to this idea is Maslows Hierarchy of needs because it’s quite informative. The Maslow pyramid should actually be inverted, but that a post for another time. At the base of Maslows hierarchy are two of the most important physiological needs : Food and Shelter. For people living at low LSM (Lifestyle Standards Measurements) levels i.e. people living below the bread line, food and shelter accounts for the vast majority of household costs leaving little available for important purchases around education, savings and upward mobility. For the vast amount of people who are disenfranchised, it becomes important to reduce cost around food and shelter. Unfortunately, not much can be done around shelter immediately, but with respect to food, these costs can drop by half.
Its has been well established that a plant based diet is healthier and cheaper than meat based diet. A can of beans is obviously cheaper than a steak and has more protein. But the situation for low LSM groups is different. They unfortunately get the worst meat based products, everything ranging from listeriosis polony to salmonella sausage to mercury enriched fish. The associated health and medical costs of this are obvious, and a disproportional amount of healthcare costs are borne by people experiencing poverty.
If we as South Africans, in fact the entire world, were to adopt a plant based diet, then our food and healthcare costs can drop significantly. This would mean that our disposable income would increase allowing us to invest more in savings, knowledge and improving our lot in life. This then forms the basis of generating wealth that can give people upward mobility. And ultimately this results in a burgeoning middle class which is the only solution of social inequality.
And all this stems from us adopting a plant based diet. By taking control of what we consume, we can take control of how we grow.
Photo by Doyoun Seo on Unsplash
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