Vegans, Welcome To The Workings Of The Market Economy – Cauliflower Steak Edition

There are two ways we can put this to God’s Special Little Snowflakes who live their lives in blissful morality by being vegan. One might be that supply and demand really matter, those first two pages in Econ 101 texts are there for a reason – they reflect the reality of how us carbon based life forms interact with incentives. The second is a little earthier, more vernacular perhaps, which is that no one is ever going to give a sucker an even break. If someone can charge you more for something then they’re going to. No doubt cackling into their capitalist’s top hat as they do so, twirling whiskers.

They’re both actually the same statement, the economic one just noting that there’s a limitation to that ability to whisker twirl, that interaction of demand and competition. They’re also the only statement, or statements, we need to explain this seeming absurdity of £28 for two slices of cauliflower. If people are stupid enough to pay it then there’re people willing to try charging it:

Veganuary is the craze which has spread through Britain this year, with supermarkets and restaurants drastically increasing their plant-based options for those who are eschewing animal products for the month. However, some vegans have hit out at pubs and restaurants for apparently cashing in on their ethical choice. One example which attracted the ire of hundreds of plant-based eaters is the deal by a Young’s pub which asks vegans to pay the same for a cauliflower “steak” as their friends do for a juicy piece of Aberdeen Angus.

In their January offer, meat eaters are offered two 6oz sirloin steaks with triple cooked chips and watercress for just £28. Those who do not eat meat are asked to shell out the same price for two roasted slices of cauliflower drizzled with oil, and served with tomatoes, mushrooms, and olive oil mashed potato. A picture of the deal, posted on Twitter, attracted widespread outrage as many pointed out that while sirloin steaks are expensive, cauliflowers can be bought for 70p at most supermarkets.

Why are they doing this? Because they think some noodle armed nutter might be willing to pay it. The correct reaction? Don’t pay if you don’t think it’s worth it.

Sure, we can get all philosophic and ponder why anyone would want to eat a slice of mutated cabbage – that being all cauliflower is – instead of chowing down on a decent chunk of moo-cow but that would be to go off and be all philosophic. Not something that market economies do nor care about. Markets are amoral, as any fule kno.

So, we’ve this push to get people to eat less meat this month of January, this Veganuary. This raises demand for veggies, lowers it for meat, the relative prices are going to change. Not a lot, to be sure, not with a modern farming system. We could muse on how our ancestors tended to have to be vegetarian at least at this time of year as they’d eaten all the meat there was going to be and were waiting for the spring baa-lambs to be large enough to slaughter but again, that’s to be philosophic, that thing our system doesn’t do. But that proper supply and demand isn’t the only thing going as Thorstein Veblen pointed out.

Humans will indeed do a lot of conspicuous consumption. As Darwin pointed out earlier with birds and plumage, males will do an awful lot of expensive and seemingly silly things in order to get laid. So, we’ve this cultural push for veggie eating, someone’s going to try and cash in by charging £28 for two slices of genetically deformed cabbage.

And?

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paul
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paul

I thought vegans were not supposed to eat animal products. Cauliflower is full of insects, whole or parts when you buy them. Unless you sit there with a small brush you will never get them all out. Still I suppose that is overlooked.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

I’m pretty sure I can make a sirloin steak and chips at home for less than £28. Eating in restaurants is more expensive* than eating at home – who knew?

* Not where Tim lives, though 🙂

literate3
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literate3

£28 for two 6oz sirloin steaks plus a few penn’orth of chips and watercress? And is it *really* the vegans who are complaining?

Sirloin steaks are expensive at less than one-quarter of that price. Almost all the price is for the service, not the food.