How to afford a vegan lifestyle?
Hi Sassy!*****Sassy Sez:
First of all, I want to express to you how EXCITED I am about your website! My friend stumbled upon it and told me right away about it :)
I've been struggling off and on throughout the years of sticking to a vegan diet. I was successful a few years back, but I found that the thing that made it the most difficult for me to commit to it, was due to the expense of buying fresh produce, special ingredients for cooking, vitamins etc. Why must it be so darn expensive to eat healthy?! :(
I really am excited to get back to a vegan lifestyle, but am afraid it may not be in the budget! Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for being here for us all :) You are wonderful!!!!
Salt Lake City, UT
Hi Susie! Great to hear from you, and so happy you have found VeganCoach.com. :)
I can relate to your question. When I first went vegan back in 1994, it really didn't cost a lot to eat in this way.
Fast-forward 10 years, and suddenly our grocery bill was over-the-top expensive.
So what was the big change? Slowly but surely over all those years, all the faux meats and cheeses, etc., made their way onto the grocery shelves. It was such fun to eat them, and I think a part of me might have really missed those flavors and consistencies, so I ran with them.
But here it is all these years from the time I went vegan and once again our grocery bills are extremely low.
You can probably figure out what has changed: I focus my meals on vegan whole foods versus spending the money to stuff our diet with those fake meats and cheeses. Because not only are they expensive, but they are not always good for you. Sure, they're fun and you can enjoy them occasionally, but it's best to steer clear of them on a regular/daily basis.
But that's just one idea. Here are some more tips for keeping costs down when you're vegan:
- Shop along the edges of your grocery store. This means your focus should be on produce and bulk items and other whole foods. When you begin to move towards the middle of the store, that is where you usually find all the pre-packaged foods which can get very expensive—and are usually not the healthiest choice either;
- I mentioned it briefly above, but get to know the bulk section of your favorite grocery store. Buying in bulk not only helps to cut down on needless packaging which helps our landfills, but you can buy so much more for your money. For instance, one can of beans might cost you around $2.00, but you can buy a whole POUND of dried beans (that you later cook up yourself) for under $2.00.
Jeff and I buy a lot of stuff in bulk. We place orders for bulk items with our local co-op because not only does it save us money, but it helps them out with their bottom line which supports the local economy. You can buy a LOT of stuff in bulk these days, including beans, whole grains, non-dairy milks, toothpaste, coconut water, toilet paper, crackers -- the list goes on and on and on. We buy in bulk, and use a closet in our home to store the stuff. Then, when we run low on any one item in our kitchen, we head to our "store" (closet) - it's just so easy.
(If you're interested in learning more about how to buy in bulk, be sure to check out Vegan FUNdamentals. This is a complete natural vegan kitchen management course for beginning vegan home cooks that also teaches you how to shop in the bulk section and what to do with all the food when you get it back home.)
We also use a vacuum sealer to store larger quantities of whole grains and beans so they stay as fresh as possible.
Ask your local co-op (or other fave grocery store) about how you might order bulk items;
- Focus on in-season organic produce, which will be less expensive than those foods which are out of season. The cost savings can be quite dramatic!
This should get you off to a good start. But I would love to hear from others out there -- how do you keep your budget under control when eating a vegan diet?