Myth: Vegan Lifestyle is Expensive! 4 Ways You Can Maintain A Vegan Lifestyle on A Budget
“Being a vegan and eating healthy plant-based food is expensive!” How often have you heard this well-worn refrain? It’s a very common misunderstanding that might have stemmed from the idea that we need to buy expensive multivitamins, protein powders, superfoods, vegan cheese, or vegan meat substitutes in order to sustain this lifestyle, which is further from the truth. A vegan lifestyle and a healthy diet can be easily tailored to fit most people’s lives with just a little bit of knowledge, no matter the income bracket. Today we are here to strip to the basics and debunk this myth!
EMBRACE WHOLE FOODS AND FRESH PRODUCE
One of the biggest myths in veganism is that buying whole foods and fresh produce are more expensive than buying eggs, dairy and meat. Whole foods are defined as foods that are unrefined, unprocessed or minimally processed, and a visit to your neighourhood’s pasar tani (that’s the farmers’ market in Malay) will show that fresh produce like vegetables and fruits are a lot cheaper than what most people think. Meat is more expensive to procure in this part of the world, so you’ll also be saving a lot by cutting out meat from your diet (not to mention reducing the demand of livestock farming and needless animal suffering). Many of the foods considered to be staples in a typical healthy vegan diet are really affordable -- potatoes, beans, grains, legumes, and oats are all good examples.
Vegetable oils are also cheaper than butter, and with some creative culinary skills you can achieve great results with cooking and baking without even having to resort to vegan butter substitutes.
Embracing more whole foods may also mean limiting packaged vegan meats and cheese substitutes, as they can cost the most compared to their volume. Treating meat and dairy mock alternatives as occasional treats and not the centrepiece of a meal will help you stick to your budget in the long run.
PLAN YOUR SHOPPING TRIPS
This can be considered the golden rule for sustaining a vegan lifestyle on a reasonable budget: plan, plan, and plan! After curating your meal prep for the week, build a budget grocery list so that you only buy what you need, and schedule shopping trips in a way that works for you so that you can stick to it. This way you will lower the risk of overbuying and having any of the fresh produce you bought go bad. After all, zero waste and veganism as a lifestyle go hand-in-hand.
Consider also stocking up on pantry staples in bulk for lower costs, as these have longer shelf lives and you are less likely to finish them very quickly. This can be anything with a far away expiration date such as nut butter, seeds, grains, nuts, pasta, or beans. It will also reduce transportation costs to go shopping when you keep your pantry well-stocked.
Prepackaged or takeaway meals are often more expensive than preparing your own food from scratch. With some planning and meal prepping you can cook for yourself and easily save a lot of money. Stretch each dime spent by taking your meal preps one step further: batch cooking! Select a day or two in the week to cook your vegan meals for the week in batches, this will additionally ensure all the fresh produce you bought will be used up to prevent any wastage. Any extra portions can be easily popped into the freezer to store for a rainy day.
You will also find that having your meals sorted out for the week by batch cooking helps you save time and frees up chunks of time for more productivity. And by spending less on takeouts, you may use the money saved to stock up on more quality organic products such as fortified plant-based milks here!
FIND A COMMUNITY GARDEN IN YOUR CITY
A really fun way to maintain veganism on a budget is to grow your own vegetables! The pandemic has made gardening trendy again, however, it is also true that learning how to grow your own crops is an invaluable skill-set to have, if it means having food security in the face of yet another global crisis.
Today many of us live in urban and/or high-rise residences where plots of land are scarce, so there is a misunderstanding that it is cost-intensive to start an edible garden where you have to invest in soils and other gardening tools. This is where we should start looking at community farms, which have gained popularity among residents in Klang Valley. Not only is it virtually free to grow your own food, in the long run it will help you maintain a vegan lifestyle so much more sustainably when you can harvest your own vegetables and fruits! Farming in a community garden is also a great way to get to know your neighbours, and an educational opportunity for the community to learn about the virtues of veganism and how important a deeper connection with Mother Earth is.
TO SUM UP
Ultimately, maintaining a vegan lifestyle on a budget can be simple and sustainable, because eating vegan doesn’t have to be special. Vegan food is readily available in your favourite local markets and there are even home delivery services online. Vegan grains, vegetables, and fruits are the same as what you would have usually purchased when you were a non-vegan, plus you would be cutting down so much costs by not purchasing meat and dairy. Furthermore, eating healthier, consuming more whole foods, and cutting out processed foods from your diet can also build up your immune system, thereby bringing down your annual health care costs. Therefore, we hope this assuages you and debunk the myth that it is expensive to sustain a vegan lifestyle.
For quality and reasonably priced grains for your vegan kitchen needs, check out our Vegan Pantry collections!