Generally, when someone says they're vegan, other people ask a lot of questions. Don't you miss eating meat? Don't you think that plants also suffer when you eat them? How can you stand not eating cheese? Isn't it way too expensive to be vegan?
This last question is a common misunderstanding. It's normal to think that being vegan is expensive because many industrialized plant-based products offered in big markets, such as certain types of "superfoods," supplements, or meat or dairy substitutes, are indeed expensive.
But actually, when you see the prices of meat and compare them to the prices of vegetables and grains and also compare how much 1 kg of meat and 1 kg of beans yield, you can easily conclude that what weighs into people's finances are animal products.
Do vegans need the latest meat alternative to cover their daily doses of protein, vitamins, and others? While many people may like these products because it reminds them of the meat they used to eat, the answer is not really. You can have a healthy, diverse plant-based diet on a budget by following these tips:
1. Cook by yourself
Instead of buying canned or packaged products, some recipes can be prepared in the tranquility of your home, with little time and effort, such as almond milk, hummus, pesto, and burgers. In big markets, similar foods are sold at high prices, and in addition, they are not as healthy because, as with all processed foods, they are rich in salt, sugar, or fats.
2. Buy from the Farmers’ Market
Farmers markets offer you a wide variety of fresh, seasonal, and local food because most products are grown close to where you live. Buying directly from the producer also means helping farmers in your local community, and it's cheaper because they don't have to pay for intermediaries, which is what happens when you buy processed foods or vegetables in a supermarket.
3. Buy in bulk and, preferably, take your own packages
Buying some items from the bulk section—like nuts, seeds, spices, herbs, flours, and grains—which you can store and use later, can be a great way to save money. This way, you also help the environment by avoiding excess packaging and fancy branding. Buying in bulk means you are getting nothing but the pure product.
4. Freeze leftovers
If you have bought too many fruits or vegetables and they are about to spoil, you can freeze them. The fruits can be part of a delicious smoothie later and the vegetables part of a stew or a soup.
This saves time and money, while also solving the problem of what to eat when we are out.
5. Grow Your Own Food
This is, of course, one of the biggest money-savers out there, but it can also be challenging because not everyone has their own backyard. But if you live in an apartment, you can also grow your own vegetables, spices, and fruits using pots, window boxes, and containers.
6. Eat wholefoods
Whole foods contain a wide variety of nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, and fiber, in one food. The base of your diet should be unprocessed and fresh ingredients, especially starches (brown rice, pumpkin, millet, oats, potatoes, whole-grain pasta), vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cabbage, beets, spinach, even frozen vegetables), fruits (depending on the season), legumes (beans, lentils, peas, soy, chickpea), and nuts and seeds. Benefit from these products as a whole, avoiding wasting their skins or any other part.
7. Buy in Season
Each season has plenty of fruits and vegetables to inspire you to cook creative and classic meals. Because products that are in season are harvested at their maximum maturity, they are fresher, as well as offering the best flavor, best nutrition, and lowest prices. Why is this so? Since farmers harvest a great abundance of products when the crop is in season, the costs of the products decrease. Alternatively, when you buy fruits and vegetables that are out of season, it means they have been grown outside of your local area, in locations with different climates, and stored for long periods of time to offer people a variety of products throughout the year. Travel, storage, and production costs are then paid by the consumer.
8. Take Your Own Meals
Sometimes, it is difficult to think about how to make time between extra hours of work, daily commutes, errands, and everyday social and family life to cook healthy and practical vegan meals to take to the office or school. Luckily, some meals, like a veggie sushi bowl or vegan Greek salad, can be made quickly on a Sunday afternoon and then stored for the entire week. You just need some portable lunch containers, and you're done!
It is a myth that eating a vegan diet is necessarily expensive. Veganism can be adapted easily to fit the lives of most people, regardless of their income.
Now that we have given you all our tips for being vegan on a budget, you have no more excuses! Why not go for a diet that is better for the animals, the environment, and yourself? Consider ditching meat, eggs, and dairy.