At first thought, veggies should be cheaper than meat. It takes more time and money to raise animals, plus they need a lot of feed anyway. Even if the feed is of lower quality than what humans eat, the price of meat should be one or two orders of magnitude higher.
Once I got my economist brain working on the issue, there are a lot of reasons to believe vegetables could be more expensive. Here is an incomplete list, I am sure:
- As I have noted before, meat in the US is highly subsidized. So are vegetables, but perhaps meat just gets more money?
- Quality matters a lot. Meat is often of pretty poor quality (think McDonalds), and people seem fine with that. Low quality vegetables turns everyone off.
- Meat can be stored for longer periods of time, making it easier to ship and optimize distribution.
- Both 2 and 3 lead to the additional issue that vegetables are often taken locally, which, I have previously mentioned, can actually be very inefficient.
- There is no reason supply and demand should meet at the same price for veggies as they do for meat. Basic market principals could be driving prices higher.
- Vegetarians have very few choices for food, and so are are inelastic to price changes. Businesses can charge more, and there's little we can do.