One of the biggest challenges for everyone I know is money and one of the most asked questions that I’ve received as a vegan who is actively seeking to not only remove meat and dairy from our diet, but to also eat as organically and truthfully as I can is, “Isn’t that a lot more expensive than just eating “regular” food?” Honestly, the answer is, “No, it’s not that much more expensive, if at all”.
First, meat isn’t cheap. Even cheap meat isn’t cheap. Do we need to discuss the crazy price of milk? Load a grocery cart with hamburger, sausage, hotdogs, sandwich meat, gallons of milk and cheese and steak and compare that to a grocery cart loaded with veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, grains, rice, oats and spices and compare them. No difference except in the nutritional value that you’re consciously putting in your mouth.
Second, most people think that vegans eat salad and that’s all. I’m hoping to change some of that perspective with this blog, although there is nothing wrong with a beautiful raw salad and we have one every single day. (We usually add the vegan ranch that I posted a few weeks ago. You can find it here.) I can’t believe how passionate I’ve become about food in such a short time! I can’t read enough, study enough, learn enough. I shamefully admit that I was willfully ignorant of how important our food choices are to ourselves and the people we love the most, so I completely understand the reaction that people have when I discuss this topic. It seems foreign to them and it is. However, it shouldn’t be and that’s important.
I’ve found that I’m seeking out foods that I never thought of when I was a carnivore! There is a big food world out there and it’s kind of exciting. Here’s some good places to start:
Beans: Beans are so much more than they appear. They are inexpensive and they can be used in so many ways! You can transform them into much more than just beans.
Those salads I mentioned: There is a plethora of ingredients to make a salad. All kinds of salads. We have some posts we hope to work on through the summer as our garden progresses that will prove this theory. …grin…
Potatoes. Enough said. (How good are sweet potatoes?!) And again, an entire bag is usually less than five dollars in my area.
Veggies can also be used in ways I never considered when we started this journey. We’re looking for a Spiral Veggie Cutter right now. Did you know you can make veggie pasta?! Just looking at recipes and thinking about all I can do with them makes me happy. The health benefits of this idea are endless to me and we’ll definitely be sharing what we learn and experiment with, for sure. Once again, veggies are not super expensive. Lettuces, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, peppers, etc…are not super expensive. (they are no more expensive than that bag of
junk potato chips that costs four dollars a bag)
Fruits really deserve a completely separate post, but for our purposes we’ll keep it short. Fruit is spectacularly good for you and in such abundance in the United States. We have a great deal to be thankful for in the US and one of the primary ones is how much food we can get with such little effort. Even better is that organic fruits are making a huge leap into our stores and farmer’s markets are showing up more and more in areas where they’d once drifted away. We grow virtually every kind of fruit (really any kind of food!) and it’s so easily accessible that there’s little excuse for not consuming more of it. Berries alone are worth their weight in gold, as well as their superfood status. Can I admit I’d never eaten a medjool date until we first stepped foot on this path? I know. It’s sad. I’m having a love affair with them now, though, so show me some grace.
Grains and oats are so plentiful that it’s crazy. For those that are gluten intolerant, I’m thrilled they’re lots of alternatives for you, but I’ll admit that I love all grains, even wheat laden ones, and I’m blessed to say I actually prefer the ones that aren’t whitened by bleach. Awesome! Oats can be used in many recipes in so many ways that it’s amazing. Mix them with some almonds in a processor and see what happens. It’s lovely. Oh…and steel cut, old-fashioned oats are cheap!! MUCH cheaper than the sugary, fake cereals many kids begin their day noshing on. Granola can be made at home and it’s excellent and inexpensive, plus it’s awesome. We’ve been making our own granola long before we started our food challenge; I’ll share it soon, too. I’ll throw in rice here, as well. A huge bag of brown rice is super inexpensive and can be added to just about any dish to make it more hearty.
Nuts and seeds are fabulous and plentiful and again, not so expensive when you realize that you only need to buy a small amount to go a LONG way! Plus, there are nut butters and nut cheeses that add to your huge supply of food choices and nuts are really a beautiful thing. Organic, all natural peanut and almond butters, people.
This post is literally the tip of a great big iceburg of food choices that are healthy and inexpensive. This journey is worth the time and the effort that it takes. What’s more, our lives are at stake. Food matters and what you put in your body can genuinely mean the difference between a life well lived and a life barely lived. Food is causing some major problems for people that we love and care about. Problems like obesity, depression, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, body issues, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, osteoporosis, etc… This is important and I want to treat it that way. I imagine that every person knows someone who suffers from one, or more, of these diseases. I know I do and I’ve struggled with my own body image my entire life. Now, just imagine a world where those problems were solved by food and not big medicine or big hospital bills or fad diets or crazy diet pills or medication that makes you sicker.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in our journey to rediscover food and reprogram our thoughts about food is that most people don’t believe that they can make this kind of lifestyle change. They can live with their diseases and their broken body image, but they simply cannot give up ground carcass or pus filled milk! I’ve learned that the food challenge isn’t just “ours”. The food challenge applies to almost every person I know and food, especially in the US, shouldn’t be challenging, at all!
Finally, we’re making some Vegan Thai food tonight! (Who doesn’t want Thai food, right? It may also involve peanut butter. Even better.) I’ll share that recipe this weekend or early next week. It’s a big, lovely world of food options out there, and I can’t wait to discover more of them and show others that healthy eating doesn’t have to break the bank account in the process!
Many Blessings, Kristi 🙂