As a vegan, I get a lot of comments from other people. Some people are interested in becoming more healthy and see a change in diet as a positive thing, while others react with two words – “bacon though”. However, the most usual comment is that in order to be a vegan, you have to be rich. I really have no idea where this belief has come from. Some of the poorest people on earth eat a vegan diet. If they can do it, then why would you think it takes lots of money to be vegan?
Okay, when I first went vegan I’d been vegetarian for about 15 years. About once a week I would have prepared vegetarian foods such as vegetarian hamburgers or chicken. However, as I said, that was about once a week, the rest of the time I made meals from scratch. When I went vegan I didn’t eat any prepared foods for over a year. I ate lots of rice, beans, vegetables and fruit. I also ate pretty simply. I’m not a chef, and have never been all that interested in becoming a chef; much to my families’ chagrin. At the time I was cooking three different meals for dinner almost every night. My daughter was vegetarian, and not too interested in eating only vegan foods, and my son and husband are still eating the usual American diet. So, in the interests of not driving myself insane, I ate a lot of salads and stir-fries. Thankfully over the course of the last year and a half, my daughter will now eat whatever it is that I’m eating. I also have put a limit on how often I cook the usual American diet for my son and husband (notice that I’m having trouble with the word meat – as cooking this is a problem for me, and I feel unethical and dirty). But this is a topic for another day.
What I want to say is that no, you do not have to buy “special and expensive” food in order to eat vegan. Vegan ingredients really are less costly than buying meat and dairy. The reason that I didn’t eat any prepared foods was because until recently my grocery store only had vegetarian foods. Also, any prepared foods are really not all that good for you, so I try to limit my consumption of them. However, it’s nice to now have an option.
There are many ways to cut the “costs” of vegan food, if this is a concern. First of all, you can buy rice and beans in bulk. I’ve found that bags of rice and beans are much less expensive than buying it in smaller boxes. Also, I try to buy whatever veggies are on sale that week. Even though a recipe may call for a certain ingredient, I often just go ahead and use something else that’s on sale. I’m pretty fluid like that – and that’s why things sometimes don’t turn out perfectly “right”. Hey, maybe I am a chef? I also go to BJ’s and buy my grapefruit and potatoes along with peppers and tomatoes in bulk. Onions are also great to buy in big bags. And, just so you know, I’ve yet to go to Whole Foods since I’ve been vegan. If I can’t get something that looks like it’s necessary to a recipe, I just don’t make that recipe. I also have a few staples that I make without a recipe, or even the same ingredients each time, so they’re like a brand-new dish, every time. Sometimes living in my house can lead to rather interesting dinners. Or not. The most important way that I don’t spend too much money on my food is that even though I now have a vegan option with prepared foods, I still don’t eat them more than once a week, and usually not even that often. All prepared foods are extremely expensive when compared to just making your own dinners.
In the winter, fruits can tend to be more expensive. But again, I usually buy a ton of bananas (forty-nine cents a pound) and oranges and grapefruits. Apples are also a pretty good buy. I’m not one to buy strawberries in February, that’s for sure. So, there you go. As a vegan I don’t spend too much on food. The most important thing that I’ve found is to go through your store fliers, take note of what’s on sale, and make a weekly menu from that. It’s a pain to do, but saves time and money when it comes to making dinners. I’m not rich and I’m a well-fed vegan. So if I can do it, you can do it, too.