Ten years ago while doing vegan outreach the most common reason for folks not giving the vegan diet a try was because of a lack of availability and limited options. Clearly this is not an issue today. Almost every restaurant has some kind of option with many wait staff even knowing what vegan means. Health food stores are popping up everywhere and the regular grocery chains have expanding health food sections. College cafeterias are expanding their veg options and even developing vegan stations for students. We are seeing and hearing the word vegan more and more every year. It has clearly become much easier to eat a vegan diet.
These days the most common issue people bring up in protest of a vegan diet is the cost. They are shopping the health food stores and are convinced they cannot eat a vegan diet because of the price of the “replacement” foods targeting vegetarians and vegans. For those of us who were already vegan when these foods came out, we were amazed. Soy ice cream, soy pepperoni, soy cheese, and donuts - these made our diets exciting. Or did they really? What I am now realizing now is how unnecessary many of these foods are, especially in a healthy diet. And they are even more unhealthy for the wallet. I do recognize that they serve as helpful transition foods (“Wow, I can’t believe how good this veg bacon is! Maybe I can eliminate bacon from my breakfast”) but usually they are not as healthy as whole foods and they are much more expensive.
Cost is clearly an issue for many of us and I realize it is especially for folks considering a vegan diet. What I explain is that the expensive health foods are for special occasions (tofurky for the holidays or soy ice cream for movie night) and for specialty items. For example, I go to pick up bulk items such as grains, flour, spices, and tofu as well as the items that the regular grocery store does not carry such as the vegannaise and soy margarine and I do the rest of my shopping at the local grocery store. I could not afford to shop exclusively from the health food store and neither could most folks for that matter. In addition, most of these replacement foods are highly processed and lower in nutritional value than whole grains and fresh foods. Whole foods can actually be some of the most inexpensive to buy (rice, beans, vegetables and fruits) and we forget that as we are inundated with advertising and expand our desire for food beyond our need for nutrition.
Secondly, most of the foods we eat on a regular basis can be made by hand very inexpensively with a little extra time planned into your day or week. DIY pesto, hummus, granola, veggie burgers, smoothies, and the list goes on and on. It is fun to make these yourself especially when you have folks over to share food that you’ve made from scratch. Not only does it cost less but it tastes so much better as well. And, it inspires your friends to make their own food too which is awesome. So, I’m including some recipes for easy stuff to make and keep around to eat on a regular basis and safe you some money.
xoxo - krissi
Most Delicious Pesto - 1 bunch of cilantro (or basil), 1 clove minced garlic, 1/8 cup almonds, 1 tbsp sesame seeds or expensive pine nuts, 1/4 cup olive oil. In a food processor chop up almonds fine, add garlic and chop, add cilantro and seeds and chop, add oil and mix well adding a little of salt and pepper if you wish. Serve hot or cold and it freezes really well too.
Bodacious Biscuits - 2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup margarine, 3/4 cup soymilk. Mix dry ingredients first then cut in margarine and add soy milk. Roll it out and cut with an upside down glass. Bake at 475 for 12 minutes.
Crantastic Vinegrette - 1 cup cranberries or 1/2 can whole cran sauce, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar. Boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add 1 tbsp minced ginger, 1 small clove garlic, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/3 cup red wine or rice vinegar and 2 tbsp maple syrup. Blend or process and refrigerate. Enjoy!