This is probably the second most common statement I hear, the first being “Well where do you get your protein? You need your protein!” (I’ll address that one in the second half of this blog entry).
No a vegan diet is not expensive.
I repeat, being vegan is not expensive.
At least if you have half a brain and are willing to put about two seconds of effort into your food.
Right now, I don’t consider myself vegan, but I’m as animal free as possible. My hangup is cheese. In my defense though, cheese is an addictive substance, I have an addictive personality (thanks parents!), and my slip ups mostly occur at Whole Foods (fucking cheese pushers! With those sneeze dome covered trays of tasty curdled milk nuggets), or when Aunt Flo is about to visit, because really I’m vulnerable to everything during these times and I just need a little fucking sensitivity toward the whole situation happening with the lower half of my body.
In my early 20’s I was vegan, from 19 to 25ish (there was a nervous breakdown thing, we don’t need to go into that, we’ll just say that we’re lucky I ate anything at all). During this period my job was at a bookstore, and believe it or not, but a retail position in your early 20’s pays absolute shit! Extravagant was paying $6 for white rice and steamed veggies from panda express. If you only dine out, yes, eating vegan is extravagant for what you get. Your diet will consist of nothing but simple carbs, such as french fries, and the greens you’ll be getting while going out with your friends will be an iceberg lettuce side salad with fat free Italian dressing (and your part of the bill will still be cheaper). The problem with this is that you will not be healthy, not in the slightest.
So anyway, back in my early 20’s, I had a roommate that was vegetarian, it worked out well. We would grocery shop together, each pitch in $20 and we made it work. Breakfasts were smoothies or day old bagels that we bought and froze for pennies. Lunch we were both away from home and we dealt with ourselves, but I often made big pots of lentils for the both of us, and dinner was soup, salad, both, what ever we could come up with. There was never a period of time where we starved, and more importantly, there was never a period of time when the animals we were consistently bringing home were starved. We spent more money on animal food than people food. Our one big splurge was coffee. Get good coffee. We did buy a protein powder, just in case, because we were also spoon feed the “you need your protein or you will die!” diet crap.
Here are tips that will save you money if you want to be vegan, or even if you don’t want to be vegan, you just like saving money:
- Know your dirty and clean list. Being vegan doesn’t mean ALL ORGANIC everything. it’s a totally different topic, and up to personal choice. There are some produce items that are worth buying organic (things that grow in close proximity to the ground and do not have a thick outer skin EX: lettuce), there are some produce items that don’t require that you care if they’re organic, because any insecticides present will not affect you because of the thick impenetrable skin (EX: avocados).
- Know when produce is in season (actually, download this list to your phone, so that you can take it to the store with you always). Produce that’s in season is usually way cheaper, AND there’s a bonus, a lot of these items can be frozen (EX: berries for smoothies), when they go on super crazy cheap sale. Stock up and freeze those bitches. Anytime I can get a good sale on berries, lemons (freeze the juice, grate the rinds and freeze – if organic, if not they make an excellent garbage disposal freshener and a number of other things), bananas, Really I’ll freeze everything except salad greens (not including spinach). Produce that is out of season is usually imported prior to ripening, and is bland, and contributes to the massive food driven carbon output that is happening right now. You know, the thing that the GOP wants to deny is happening so they can blissfully eat their steak without having feelings, all while screwing their children and grandchildren out of a viable planet (they’ll be dead anyway, fuck it!).
- Look into your farmer’s markets. There’s one out here in St. Louis that is sincerely the most awesome thing ever. Soulard Farmer’s Market, started out in St. Louis in 1779. It is the oldest farmer’s market in the country, and it goes year round. One of the things that is prevalent in farmer’s markets today is produce resellers. These are the guys that go to markets and buy up the stuff that is on the verge of expiring, and sell it. Cheap. Most of the time it’s not bad produce. It might be a funny shape, it might not be covered in wax and shine, but if you’re intending to cook it that night or freeze it, there’s no point in not saving money. Otherwise the shit is just going to end up at the dump, more waste, more methane, more humans being disgusting humans. My first trip to Soulard, I spent $24 – I bought a pineapple, two heads of romaine, some roma tomatoes, an eggplant, some lemons, purple tomatoes, and some spices (and a bloody mary on the way in thank you!). Somewhere near you, or within 10 miles there is a farmer’s market, or flea market that has amazing deals.
- Cooking at home. I don’t mean that every meal has to be crazy labor intensive. During busy weeks I’ll set aside a couple of hours to make a bunch of shit for hobo bowls, salads, and stews. Hobo bowls are when you take a grain (rice, quinoa, barley etc.), and add what ever the fuck vegetables you feel like, plus a protein source (beans, tofu, tempeh). I always have a bowl filled with salad greens in the fridge, and I buy broccoli slaw at Trader Joe’s ($1.99 for a huge bag that lasts a week), and shredded brussels sprouts (also $2 for a bag) – salads are usually greens, broccoli slaw, brussels sprouts, and anything else I decide to throw in there. For dressing I either make my own, or the Trader Joe’s goddess dressing is exactly like the $4 version at the store, it’s just only $2. Basically, if you put together a list of the things that you like to eat on the regular, and make a weekly grocery list, and do a little prep work.
- Experiment with new things. There was this one time that I was living in So Cal, and the grocery store across the street was having a crazy sale on radishes. I was really into roasted beets in my salads at the time, but I ended up with 2 lbs of radishes for $1. I roasted them with balsamic and vinegar and guess what? I liked them in my salads just as much as the beets, and I saved $5 that week.
- Fall in love with bulk bins. Don’t buy organic rice in a $7 12 ounce bag, when you can get 16 ounces of organic rice from a bulk bin for $5.99 a lb. Same for beans, grains, dried fruit snacks, etc.
- Ugly produce is your friend. Back to that produce reseller thing, sometimes fruit and vegetables are not suitable for the store – they’re not perfectly round, they have a bump, the color isn’t uniform etc. THIS PRODUCE IS USUALLY THROWN AWAY. It’s perfectly good, it just grew a little different. Recently France outlawed this practice and North Carolina is doing the same. I’m hoping that this trend continues, because we have enough food to feed the entire world and then some, it’s just that capitalism is taking the food out of starving peoples mouths and either feeding it to cows, or throwing it in a landfill.
This brings me to the part II of my blog. “You need protein or you will DIE!”. No. You need the availability of all amino acids so that your body can produce protein or you will die. Protein is easily obtained by sacrificing the lives of animals, the health of the planet, and all compassion and morality (yes, I’m being an asshole here, and I don’t care, because it’s true). Protein is just as easily obtained by eating a wide variety of plant matter – because it’s not simply obtained, it’s created, by your body, out of amino acids, that either your body produces, or that come from an outside source. THIS IS FUCKING SCIENCE, IT ISN’T ANYTHING NEW.
You don’t even have to obtain every amino acid in one sitting to create protein.
Your body does it as needed.
The flesh of an animal doesn’t go into your mouth and then suture itself onto your own muscles making them strong.
When you eat the flesh of an animal, enzymes in your mouth break it down, it’s swallowed and further broken down by additional enzymes in your stomach, it enters your lower intestine and nutrients and water are pulled out as needed, and then it enters your small intestine which takes more water from it, and then it’s poop. This same process is carried out with vegetables. Vegetables also have amino acids, the same as meat, it’s just that different vegetables have different amino acids and to get the full spectrum you need variety. Variety totally sucks, I get it.
That’s my rant for the day. If you disagree with this rant, fuck off I don’t care, you’re scientifically illiterate and therefore irrelevant in my world. If you decide to be a dick and respond to this by suggesting I go eat a cow sliced up in which ever way you find appropriate, I will relentlessly send you pictures of for real cancerous colons – because that’s how that shit happens. It’s not just me saying it, it’s science. And if you’re all like #YOLO, I’ll be like “yeah, and then your ass starts bleeding and you don’t get to die peacefully in your sleep at the age of 98 – you get to die screaming because of ass pain”.