The Struggles of Eating Broke

“But isn’t being vegan/vegetarian more expensive?”

“How do you find food?”

“Don’t you have to shop every week because all your food goes bad so fast?”

We’ve all heard one of these questions before, or at least some variation of them. Which leads me to think, why doesn’t everyone ask omnivores the same thing? Apparently, spending a little more on food should totally discourage anyone from going vegetarian or vegan. I think it should be the opposite.

For one thing, you get what you pay for. That saying is true when you’re shopping for furniture, or when you’re choosing a healthy lifestyle. When you pay for higher quality food (which really isn’t that much more, if you follow my tips further on) you’re making an investment in your future self, not to mention saving on future medical bills.

When I first made the transition, I went hardcore vegan overnight. This meant cleaning out all the old non-vegan food, and replacing it with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy non-animal based proteins, and for some reason, buying 5 pounds of rice. That first grocery trip added up to almost $100 (keep in mind, that’s for one person).

However, to keep myself from going completely broke, I’ve learned a few tricks to save money and keep my lifestyle commitment. First, try out farmer’s markets when they’re in season. This is a good idea for a few reasons. For one, most markets only accept cash so you’ll be able to keep track of your money without going overboard. Secondly, you can HAGGLE. You don’t want to do this too much, but if something seems a bit overpriced, you can get good deals by haggling. Sometimes you can even buy some in bulk if it’s toward the end of the market time and sellers want to get rid of their produce, or if it’s going to expire soon.

Another good way to save money on a vegetarian or vegan diet is to be smart when you go to a grocery store. Stick to staple foods and buy them in bulk when you can (this includes quinoa, rice, pasta, canned/frozen veggies). Also, keep in mind that not everything you buy has to be organic. If you can afford all-organic foods, great! But some foods, like bananas, avocados and onions, don’t need to be organic in order to still be good for you. Research has shown that these types of foods (mostly ones with some kind of outer skin) are less likely to be contaminated with pesticides.

Of course, another great way to save on fresh produce is to grow your own! It’s cheap, and a lot of plants don’t require you to be a full-time gardener. A lot of really awesome tips to do this can be found on popular gardening sites and in magazines, but this link to the “Overcoming Consumerism” website is very helpful as well: http://www.verdant.net/food.htm

No matter what, remember…eating healthy doesn’t mean eating broke!

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