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.