When I think about expensive food, usually steak or caviar come to mind; neither is vegan. Rice and beans, a couple staples of the plant-based diet, are some of the most inexpensive foods on the planet. So why do people believe eating vegan will cost them an arm and a leg?
I Don’t Have Martha Stewart Time. You Probably Don’t Either. I get it. We’re all busy. I work more than 40 hours a week and commute about an hour or more total each day, so I understand about limited time. Sure I’m pooped when I get home. But I make time for what’s important to me – my health, my planet’s health and the health and prevention of suffering for the animals. And that means finding creative ways to eat healthy, tasty, plant-based AND gluten-free.
Time is money. It’s not that easy to stop by a fast food joint on your way home and grab some hearty vegan grub. But what is that fast food meal REALLY costing you? It might add a couple minutes to your day, but cheap food comes at a high price for the animals that suffer in factory farms, the environment, the workers barely making enough to survive and your health costs from eating excess fat, salt and cholesterol. Eating a plant-based diet dramatically decreases your chances of getting the big three – heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Don’t believe me? Watch Forks Over Knives. How much does open heart surgery cost? Monthly diabetes medicine? Chemo? How much time will you spend at the doctor, in the hospital, at the pharmacy? What’s your quality of life worth? Don’t forget to figure these costs into the equation. Suddenly the time spent to prepare a healthy meal or head out to restaurant with vegan options and pay a little extra becomes worthwhile.
Convenience costs money. Make friends with the produce and bulk sections of your grocery store. Sure there are awesome new vegan options, prepared meals, snacks and desserts that might cost more than their non-vegan counterparts. But if cost is truly what’s stopping you from eating plant-based, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and grains can be purchased in their bulk, unprocessed states at very reasonable prices. And those ready to eat fruits and veggies are still less than expensive meats and dairy products. It’s very do-able to eat a healthy plant-based diet on a budget.
Ellen Jaffe Jones even wrote a book about eating vegan on the cheap, called “Eat Vegan On $4 A Day.” Here’s a short video of Ellen sharing her thoughts on the true cost of eating vegan.
I heard Ellen speak at VegFest Colorado a few years ago and she has some great ideas. She talked about shopping for your fruits and veggies in season and buying in bulk. I watch the sales flyers and get weekly emails and coupons from groceries where I live. I love to look at what’s on sale to start planning my menus for the week.
What about gluten-free vegan you ask? Well, again, processed items always cost more than making them yourself. And gluten-free processed items are much more expensive and especially hard to find vegan. Breads, cakes and cookies can add up when someone else makes them for you. I splurge and buy gluten-free vegan bread because I haven’t had much luck baking it; but cakes and cookies are pretty easy to make if you like to have them around the house for snacks. You don’t even have to bake them. Check out my Raw Cocoa Vegan Bon Bon Balls and Raw Vegan Cookie Dough Balls! I’ve found some great brands like Enjoy Life and Lucy’s and sometimes splurge on those as well, since I don’t eat them often and having just a few now and then makes them affordable for me.
Batch and Bulk Cook. To save money, I buy my beans dry, soak them and cook them in a pressure cooker in large batches. I keep 1/3 in the fridge and freeze the other 2/3’s in two containers so I have beans ready when I need them and don’t have to worry about them spoiling. I batch cook potatoes, rice and soups on the weekends or some evenings when I have a little more time. One of my very first blog posts, Staples I Have in My Fridge, shares basic recipes to make quinoa and rice from scratch.
Make extra everything, especially at dinner so I can pack a lunch for work. It takes me about 30 minutes to create most of my dinners with the veggies, sauces, grains and beans I already have in the fridge. If I were to go out to eat, it would still take time to drive there, eat and then drive home, so this extra time to prep something healthy and vegan isn’t really much time at all. Plus I know what goes into my food and how it was prepared.
I rarely get sick. My numbers are awesome (they didn’t used to be) and I take no medication. Hubby’s numbers are awesome too and he’s off cholesterol meds and in amazing shape. I’d much rather spend my money on tasty, healthy gluten-free, vegan food than doctors and pharmaceuticals!
If cost is what’s holding you back from adopting a plant-based diet – don’t wait. Start saving (your money, the planet, the animals and maybe even your own life!) TODAY!!