18 September, 2007

How do I live cheaply on a vegan diet?

Drop the processed products - fake meats, packaged plant milks, and especially the vegan caviar. You don't need it. No, really, you don't. No, not even for protein.

Cut it down to the bare basics - grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes.

Organic barley is $.69/lb.
Organic hard red wheatberries are $.59/lb.
Organic speltberries are $1.39/lb.
Organic oats are $.50/lb.
The really expensive organic potatoes are $.91/lb.
Organic kale is $1.39/bunch ($2/bunch at some places).
Fruit ranges from $.39/lb. (organic minneolas whoohoo!) to $4/lb. (Avoid!)
Growing 20 bunches of your own leafy greens in a square foot gardening box, $1.50 and a whole lotta time.
Weekly/daily B-12 tablet or spray: $.12-$.50/tablet or spray.

Compare that to (prices from Harris Teeter):

Bologna: $4.99/lb.
Honey-Baked Ham (or, as we vegans affectionately call it, "pig butt"): $4.49/lb.
Sockeye Salmon: $9.99/lb.
Ballpark Franks: $3/pack
Smoked Bacon: $3.99/lb.
Whole Chicken Body: $1.99/lb.

And oh man, if you want to get organic flesh so you can eat someone's carcass and feel good about it, well fuck...

So, say you're eating in a week:

4 lbs. of potatoes ($3.64)
1 lb. of oats ($.50)
3 lbs. of barley ($2.27) (keep in mind that this is about 2,000 calories).
2 bunches of kale ($4)
6 lbs. non-organic and organic fruit ($7-$9)
Daily B-12 tablets ($3.50)

And, drumroll please.. $24.49.

Yep, that's right. You're still under $30/week; add a few more bunches of kale and you'll still be under $30/week. Now, I don't know about you, but the rest of my family spends about $800/month on food alone, because their diet's made up of mainly non-vegan products, which are more expensive. There's the feeding costs, the space costs, the lighting costs, the water costs, the construction costs, the worker costs, the equipment costs - beak cutters and such, the transportation costs (to the slaughterhouse and away), the economic cost to the citizens for having the government subsidise it, the health care costs, the environmental costs, etc. etc. Meanwhile, we vegans are over here munching on our cheap dinner that was comprised of: watering costs, space costs, harvesting costs, transportation costs (actually, harvesting costs could fall under this), worker costs, offset by lowering health care costs, (usually) lower environmental costs, etc. etc.

So, what you're really saying is...

How do I not cook and still live cheaply as a vegan?

Answer: you can't. But wait!

I didn't much like cooking either, when I started as a carnist. I hated it so much that I refused to learn! Then, of course, I became vegan, and because I didn't have many prepackaged foods available, I began to cook - and I liked it. Says my girlfriend:

With veganism, I actually enjoyed learning how to cook. It was far more simpler to handle plant-based foods than it would ever be to handle animal flesh. It is less time consuming, and more frugal to cook (or uncook, for raw vegans) plant-based foods. Animal flesh is expensive, hazardous to handle, time-consuming to handle and cook it properly and NOT only that, but to cook it in a way that would render it appetizing (people commonly load up on salt, spices, marinades, sauces, breading, frying, etc to mask the actual "taste" of death.

So go on and save your pocketbook.. and the animals, too.

(P.S. Potatoes do well in the microwave, for quick meals.)


  1. Disappointed by the inclusion of "daily B-12 tablets". I've been a no-supplements vegan for over a decade, and in the last couple of years, have started to avoid fortified foods as I find their taste rather chemical (yes, that includes Rice Dream and Clif Bars).

    You may personally require supplementation, but please don't spread the idea that all or even most vegans do.

    1. It's really dangerous not to take a supplement, whether it be from a pill, spray or fortified foods. Gorillas in the wild don't need B12 - wild areas haven't had their soil depleted. However, gorillas in zoos have to be given a B12 supplement because their diet doesn't contain it - ie most food from even organic soil just doesn't cut it. Check out http://www.vegetarian.org.uk/factsheets/b12factsheet.html Finally, The American Dietetic Association suggests that everyone over 50 should supplement (including meat-eaters) because our bodies just don't store B12 as well as we get older.

  2. Although I love cooking, I almost never get the time to do so (and more importantly, I currently do not own a kitchen...). However, my weekly grocery bill is still usually around $20, $25 max, for all organic vegan deliciousness. The only "cooking" I do is boiling water in a hot pot for morning oatmeal. Granted I don't get much variety and eat basically the same thing every day, but then again, when you're truly strapped for cash, food is about nutrition and energy. So yes, if you're willing to live with a monontonous diet, $20 a week and no cooking is possible.

  3. Could you post a nutritional analysis from this diet?

  4. I am working on becoming a full time vegan and I was wondering if you could point me to recipes for these ingredients? I really want to do this but I am not a cook but am willing to become one so any information will help.

  5. Thanks
    for information, I'll always keep updated here!

  6. including reasonable comments here... healthy vegan recipes