16 October 2007

Veganism != expensive

I've heard it once, and I'll probably hear it a few thousand more times, but let me be abundantly clear right now: veganism is not expensive. I got the comment just yesterday, and it annoyed me, but I chose not to say anything, because I was in a hurry, and a dirty look was all I had time for. If you're reading this, person to whom I shot a dirty look, this is to you. I'll try to make this as friendly as I can, and if you notice me getting ranty, forgive me, because this is about the millionth time I've addressed this.

Everyone needs a variety of foods in their diet, which include selections of dark leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, grains, and lots of water. Not juice, coffee, tea, or soymilk, but water. All these things are dirt cheap no matter where you're going, especially if you're buying them in bulk, cooking them up in large batches, and freezing the leftovers. Ideally, we'd all be eating locally grown, organic, fresh picked produce, but for those of you who cannot afford that, buying the regular fruits and veg are just fine.

That being said, if it's a time issue, even living off of frozen vegetables (though not the best idea in the world) and tinned beans would still leave you at less than $5 a day for food. 1 lb of frozen veg generally goes for a dollar or two. 1 lb of tinned beans are generally around a dollar. A 20 lb bag of rice shouldn't be more than $7, unless you're buying something fancy. Even at $10 for a 20 lb bag of rice, you're still going to take some serious time to finish it off. Throw in the cost of spices, and you're still eating really cheaply, because you're not using them in large amounts.

So what if you can't afford cookbooks? There are sites like vegweb that have hundreds of recipes for each category in their site. They let you post your pictures and reviews of the recipes, so that others can see how it turned out. You can read other peoples' reviews, and get an idea of how it's going to turn out. This is not difficult at all. They've even got recipes posted for all levels of skill.

Maybe that's still not enough for you. Join any vegan forum on the Internet, and there's bound to be a food section, because vegans really like to eat, and love to talk about it. If you're on a tight budget, chances are that someone else is too, and can probably guide you along the path without too much pain. As long as you're not behaving like a jerk, people are willing to lend a hand.

I've met multiple people who've gone vegan at age 12 or 13, with or without the support of their parents, and still managed to make it work. Here you are, a full grown adult, whining about how it's too expensive? That's pretty sad there, buddy. If those young kids, with no car, no job, no money, and no support can manage to make it work for themselves, you as an adult who is infinitely more equipped to navigate life are not only capable of making it work, you're able to make it work very well.

Finally, if you really think it's all that expensive, let me cook for you for a week. I'll go shopping with you, and show you exactly what I'm buying. I'll keep the costs at around $20 for two weeks, and make sure to hit up the produce aisle regularly. This isn't $20 per week for two weeks. It's $20 for two weeks, full stop. Then I'll come over to your house, cook the whole lot of it, and chuck it in your freezer for you to have.

The reason you're saying that going vegan is expensive is because you're waffling around the national Health Food Store chains, and trying to find vegan versions of every single thing you've ever eaten, full stop. If your idea of going vegan is buying soy cheese, soy parm, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, seitan, mock chicken, fish, beef, hotdogs, burgers, and ice cream, you're not only going to get tremendously unhealthy, you're also going to be spending ten times more than any sane person needs to be spending on food. Remember kids: a cookie is a SOMETIMES food. I almost wish for a vegan version of that song, where they say "an omnisub is a sometimes food" but I'm not sure how much Sesame Street would care for that.


  1. Dino!!!

    I hope this post isn't due to my *sarcastic* comment (in your last post) about veganism and high expense...I said it to confirm how inexpensive veganism is...sorry about all that.

    Hell, I have 4lbs of Lentils in my pantry that cost less then a lb. of meat.

    It's good to know that you're always roarin' for veganism though, my little tiger!

  2. Oh no no no. It was someone from the not internets. I hate the not internets.

  3. there is live outside the internets O_O ?! oh well, angry, but great post. how do you manage to speak my mind?

  4. Oooh! Oooh! Pick me! I think veganism is expensive and I want you to cook for me for two weeks!!!!!!

    Yeah, OK, well, fine... so I lied.

    (I just want you to come cook for me, I don't have any issues with the expense part...)

    Hell, I've lived on food stamps and ended up with $$ LEFT OVER at the end of my month while maintaining a perfectly healthy vegan diet. Everyone was always amazed...

    But geez! Having someone cook for me for a week - or even a DAY would be a dream come true, so heck, I'm willing to lie a little bit...

    Great post, seriously.

  5. agree with tofu mom. i have no expense issues with veganism but your offer sounds too good to be true. i hope you understand what you're getting yourself into. so yes, put me on the list of people to cook for for a week, please :)

  6. I *totally* agree with you on this. Dried beans, fresh produce, and whole grains are CHEAP! And tasty, especially when you add herbs (we grow our own in pots since we rent) and spices. Buy in bulk, buy locally, buy seasonally, and veganism is the cheapest diet around!

  7. Cool post! Another vegan here who'd love you to come to mine and cook for a fortnight(not that I'm incapable of doing it myself, it'd just be nice!)

    You should cross-post this to your veganfaq project too methinks!

  8. Great post!

    For some reason people assume vegans thrive on organic produce, which is really very expensive!

    Vegan diet is not only the cheapest diet, but it also great for the environment.

    Vegan diet has least impact on our environment.

  9. Pavotrouge: I'm so glad that the post resonated with you. It came from a place of anger, but hopefully, it articulated something that's true.

    Tofu mom: If ever I'm in your neck of the woods, I'd cheerfully cook for you for however long I'd be staying, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's how I do for anyone's house I visit.

    Demian: If I'm getting into people always wanting me to come to their homes, and share the enjoyment of their company, and lend my hands and my heart and mind to their kitchens to churn out a thing of beauty, then I certainly hope I get plenty of it!

    Theresa: Amen to that! Even if you can't buy in bulk (storage issues, lack of space, etc.), you're still going to end up spending less money than you would when you're not eating vegan.

    Kris: Offer stands regardless of your abilities, of course. Granted, Lelly and Weeg may not be too thrilled with my crashing at your pad, and not using their designer kitchen, eh!?

    Kumudha: Exactly. And not to mention, it's not always coming from local sources. Boo.

  10. I love you!!!
    I'm so sick of hearing the whining about 'expense'. Thanks for writing this.

  11. No offense, but here in the UK to be vegan is far more expensive than to be an omnivore.

    Produce has sky rocketed over the past few years, so if you are lower class or lower middle class it is easier to just buy the meat than beans, soy mince and quorn.

    Also if you allergic to soy you have to drink things like oatly or rice milk which is 3 dollars per liter. Cow's milk is much much much cheaper.

    So depending on where you live , veganism can be overly expensive.
    If you aren't rich, it is hard to afford this life style. I am vegan, but not rich, and have to scrape money together now just to have a decent sized meal.

    Maybe you should do a little more research before writing overly sarcastic blogs!

  12. No need to be a giant douche Dino!

  13. (I am a new anonymous)

    Dino, I was considering that maybe the "vegans-tend-to-be-self-righteous-crazies" stereotype was wrong...but your reaction to anonymous #1 has proved it to be at least half true.

    Sometimes it seems like it's not even about the veganism, it's about being right. Where's the love?

  14. :P Hi Anonymous: Generally, by and large, I'm a pretty nice guy. But when someone comes at you with something so outrageously /stupid/ in spite of what you've been saying all this time, and completely misses the point, it raises one's ire.

  15. UK vegan here

    I agreee with OP, the only people here in the uk that think veganism is expensive are those who can't shop and can't cook.

    Tescos, morrisons, sainsburys ... forget that shit if you're vegan, it's handy to get 1 or 2 things from but people here are exploiting the fact that people want to get healthy and tend to overcharge for a salad meal ....

    now the mistake people are making is that they think vegans live off thiese overpriced salads .. and easily get decieved by words like "organic" or "healthy" stamped onto the packaging of whatever they're selling

    i shit you not, "weight watchers bacon" is normal bacon with the fat trimmed off (a process easily done at home using fingers or knife) and they charge 2 extra £'s for it .... and people actually buy that shit ... cmon now guys ... it's like 4 slabs too ...

    what you people want to do is take a LONG walk ... explore your town ... find little family shops.
    nice, honest places that won't rip you off and buy wholesale ... shop around ... it only takes 1 day of walking and cooking to save money and have yourself covered for weeks