The Correlation between Veganism and Gentrification

Hailey Le Roy, Entertainment Editor

   More and more hipster coffee shops, plant-based restaurants and boutiques with sustainably produced items seem to be popping up in urban areas. These outlets, typically on streets adorned with progressive-themed murals and pride flags, may appear like a step in the “right” direction to the younger, more liberal generations, but what is actually going on is far more complicated and may do more harm than good.

   Gentrification is the displacement of working-class people, replaced by affluent non-natives to the area. When wealthy buyers notice a low-income area, they purchase a large number of buildings and/or land, then skyrocket the prices. This drives people living there out of the area, and makes way for more expensive, “hip” places and people to take the stage. The small thrift store owned by a single mother is replaced by a high clothing boutique that charges four times more for a blouse; the Spanish market that had been thriving for twenty years turns into a waste-free grocery store that does not take cash.

   This pattern may be hard to recognize, especially because these gentrified areas are often seen as a harmless popular area that is perfect for a night on the town or Sunday brunch, but there is a distinct feeling to all of these areas that just scream urban renewal.

   A fantastic example of this is the city of Tampa. Every six months or so a new market or recreational area seems to be popping up in the city and there always appears to be construction going on over there. What comes out of this construction are modern places like Armature Works that seem way too cool to pass up on but are actually making it harder for the economically disadvantaged to get by, driving them out of Tampa the process.

   College towns are also a great example of gentrification; visit any college town and one will see modern eateries and hand-crafted ice cream stores. However, one will also see an unbelievable amount of homeless people.

   Renovation is not inherently bad. Taking older, historical neighborhoods like Ybor and fixing it up while maintaining their historical value is great. What is bad, though, is when governments do not give the working-class people originally living their resources to stay put. Cities renovate to be shiny and new but take away the culture and history that supported large groups of typically low-income people.

   How can one help stop this problem? Demand from local leaders to provide affordable housing and give those originally living in to-be renovated areas first dibs. If a construction job for something like luxury housing seems like it will hurt the people living in that area, it probably will; advocate for these development projects to be stopped. Finally, try to educate as much as possible, and seek out local, diverse outlets to support.