Yesterday my boet was in town and we went out for lunch. I chose Massimo’s in Hout Bay because I have never been and I know that they have an omni and special vegan menu. I had a most delicious vegan pizza (my only mistake was adding vegan cheese to it; horrible, unmelty coconut oil flavoured lumps) and everyone’s food was good. They even had a selection of vegan wines to choose from. I like that. It was all expensive. Eating out is expensive which is why I don’t do it that often.
It is so important for me that being a vegan isn’t about having to spend more money on food. Eating out is an absolute treat. Buying ingredients is not about buying expensive meat or dairy substitutes. In fact the only thing I don’t resent spending money on is cashew nuts, after discovering how they grow when I was in India.
Although I adore the brilliant sharing of information, recipes and advice on social media, the curse of belonging to Facebum vegan groups is that they can be both judgemental and snobby. This is a problem when vegans are trying to convince the average Joe that being a vegan is both accessible and affordable.
So when I am Facebum invited to a pop-up dining experience at R450 a head, or I read about a vegan high tea that costs the same as my weekly veggie purchase, I get a little antsy. When I read that soy milk is out and almond milk, at double the price is in, I do have a bit of a knee jerk response that omnis who might want to transition would find that off putting.
Big Friendly and I popped into De Waal Park on Saturday. I dragged him because I saw on Facebum that there was a vegan bake sale on and I wanted to support it. I want to support as many vegan initiatives as I can so that they continue to happen. I didn’t tell him that the teeniest crunchie and minute lemon poppyseed square cost R40. The poppyseed cake was ok. Big Friendly didn’t even remember to eat the crunchie I bought for him. It was too small to notice on the kitchen table.
And I am left feeling a little grumbly. This is what I think. Animal based protein is expensive. If a restaurant needs to ‘veganise’ a recipe they are leaving out the most expensive part of it. Vegan dishes cost less to make than omni ones. Soy milk costs only a teeny bit more than cow’s milk. Anything with cheese in should be more expensive, not less expensive than the non cheese version.
We vegans should be able to convince people that veganism is not a pastime for the well-heeled. But we need to demand that it is more affordable.