I’m going to start out by being clear and honest with my families vegan journey so I don’t upset any hardcore vegans. We have transitioned very slowly. Well, we jumped in but I didn’t clear out our cupboards with a fever and dramatic music in the background, I didn’t cancel all celebrations, holidays, and parties (we are the only ones who actually have the parties in this neighborhood), I didn’t start a rant channel on Youtube, and I have imbibed an egg or chicken stock here and there.
I have gone vegan many times since the tender age of 15 years when I attended an activist camp and met Ram Dass and Ben and Jerry (who now make many vegan ice creams FYI). I read Diet For A New Planet by John Robbins, the hier to Baskin Robbins and I ate vegan food all week at the camp. Why I ever returned I’m not sure but part of it was that I didn’t have any support, fellow vegan friends, or cooking skills. Back then the internet had not begun or it was not widespread and vegan was still a “crazy hippy” word. Becoming vegan was a big commitment and you really had to work to find recipes and organics.
Today we have it so easy in all departments. We have organics and NonGMO’s even at places like Walmart and FoodMaxx. I have even found vegan alternatives at these box stores. And most towns will sport at least one health food store unless you live in a tiny town in Alabama…and then I bet you could find a healthy store within an hour of you. And if not you can order everything online!
With organics and veganism growing by leaps and bounds, food is getting more affordable. Many vegans are into growing their own food and starting little backyard farms. It is an amazing community to watch spread globally. It is also a comforting thing to watch people becoming more aware of just how destructive and disturbing factory farming is to animals and the environment. If you are new to this and don’t know anything about your food I would suggest you get on Netflix tonight and watch What The Health to start then Farmageddon. Then go on to watch Forks Over Knives.
You will never be the same.
And that is good because then you can join the movement to encourage compassionate and healthy farming and all the people who are learning to heal themselves of hideous diseases naturally. Veganism or a lifestyle that is very close to it, is the only way we can all be sustainable on this planet.
With that as an opener, I will also add that veganism is better entered into slowly and with enthusiasm. It takes time to get used to eating differently and although there are so many alternatives for everything from chocolate to chicken, it takes some trying out many products, watching Youtube to learn cooking skills and ideas, and you may fall of the veggie wagon many times.
Don’t even fret. Enjoy the process and if you are craving that chicken leg (a real one) then have it. But have a hormone/antibiotic free one with a stamp of “cruelty free”. Eat eggs that are free range and milk that is grass fed. Still, no matter how cruelty free and grass fed, animal products do cause health issues and there is still some sad, sad things that happen to the animals. For example, calves are taken away from their mothers the minute they are born. The mother will stand in the spot where she just gave birth and was licking her baby. She becomes confused and anxious, licking the spot and smelling where the baby was just a minute ago and then she begins to wail for hours. Some farmers let the calves and mothers stay together, after all, the mother can produce 4 gallons of milk a day and the calf only takes a gallon. I would think that the mother and baby would both thrive much better together and you don’t have a cow with a broken heart. You’re not drinking broken hearted cow milk.
After having my own babies and nursing forever, I could never do this as a farmer lady. In India in my husbands’ childhood, they kept mama and baby together as the calf didn’t take that much to fill up.
So, these are just some reasons we go this route eventually once we learn the pain involved with using animals for food.
So, now your vegucated. That is also another great documentary Vegucated. A little lighter and fun to watch. Now what and how about if you are on a tight budget and/or feeding a family with little for grocery money or food stamps? Turns out that vegan can be much cheaper than the American diet. A 25 lb of beans and rice will feed a family for weeks. It cost around $20 a bag. You may go through that much meat in a week alone and that will cost you hundreds of dollars. A 10 lb organic chicken is around $15 to $20 and can last a week…maybe if done right.
When you go from milk, butter, cheese, and eggs to brown rice, legumes, produce in season, and potatoes, the total at the register is considerably lower. Buying in bulk saves a lot as well. Ask your local health food store and if it’s a coop, join quickly and see what discounts they offer. They will often have tips for saving on organics and vegan food on a budget.
Then plug into Youtube for great ideas and inspiration. A few channels I’ve found and had suggested to me (thanks, Sandra) are The Happy Pear, two Irish dads that make great food that we all love and are kid friendly. High Carb Hannah makes a lot of good, low fat food to get thin and fit and she also has her own story of being super overweight and slimming down. The Vegan Athlete makes some wowie salads and sushi and he is a master gardener with a food forest he planted in Arizona! What?! Then there is Mommy Tang and her Korean recipes look so good! All these people are inspiring and glow with health and vitality. They are joyful people giving great advice.
Oh, and for the budget conscious student or fixed income we have Cheap Lazy Vegan, also on Youtube. This girl has great hair that goes from magenta to hot pink and she shows you how to eat healthy for $20 a week. She does shop at Walmart and her stuff is not all organic…and that is fine because not all of us can afford organic Coop food.
How do I afford organics on our little one income? Not everything is organic for one, mostly just the produce, but I’m getting there. Grannies son in law wanted to know how I do it and she answered perfectly, “she is frugal in all areas of her life so she has the extra money to buy quality food for her family”. Amen Grannie. I do cut cost in crazy little ways to have the money for the things that matter like organics.
Now, recently I was so inspired by the Youtube people that I made a budget for us and we are only shopping at Briar Patch Coop in Grass Valley. I have joined the Coop and I order a lot of things from bulk. I do comparison shopping and we buy simple foods.
Here is a video of mine with our Briar Patch Coop trips and details on how you can save money and afford shopping for organics and shopping at the health food stores.