Can Your Family Afford To Go Vegan - Yes!
“It’s expensive to be vegan, isn’t it?” is a question most vegan families have to face at some point in their lives. As is the case with all things to do with shopping, however, it all depends on your strategy – and the way you prepare your meals.
As noted in a poll by The Vegetarian Resource Group, vegetarianism and veganism are not, in fact, more favored by the affluent. Rather, while 7% of people in households earning less than $50,000 are vegetarian or vegan, only 2% of those in the over-$100,000 bracket lead meat-free lives.
It just goes to show that through strategic buying and searching for long-term solutions to the costs of this lifestyle, it is possible to be fully vegan and enjoy magnificent starters, mains and desserts, without spending more than your budget allows.
Purchasing Unprocessed Foods
In the short-term, one of the most important ways to make veganism more affordable, is to buy unrefined produce. The most expensive and budget-breaking items you can find include store-bought nut butters, chopped fresh fruit, ready-made vegan meals, eco snacks and the like.
One thing you do have to have enough of to make this commitment, is time. Having at least an hour day in total to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will enable you to make cheap meals (including delicious vegan burgers, healthy pizza, and tofu and seitan sautees) from scratch.
Weekends can be used to make items like homemade nut milks and butters, made with ingredients obtained in bulk buys. Studies have shown that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out, but when it comes to veganism, it also means you can offer your family a considerably wider range of dishes than they might find at a typical restaurant.
Making Long-Term Changes
Some vegan families are taking a more strategic, long-term approach to veganism. Rather than relying on suppliers for produce, they are growing it themselves, in community plots, home gardens, and even small terraces through technologies such as aeroponic towers.
The aeroponic system was invented over 10 years ago by American horticulturist, Tim Blank. The vertical system saves 75% of space, yet offers a 50% crop yield increase. One tower takes up only 1m² of space, meaning that even apartment dwellers with a small terrace can avail of even the tiniest space to grow their own produce.
This system also saves 95% of water because it uses a small water reservoir for continued watering. Aeroponic towers (also called Tower Gardens) don’t come cheap, selling for around $600. However, because their yield is so high, families interested in growing their own produce can consider it an investment in their vegan commitment.
Finding the money for the initial set-up of this project will take research and a good credit report, but the work put in will certainly be worth it in the long run. Of course, aeroponics is just one way of growing produce. You might also dabble in creating a vertical garden or honing your skill in hydroponics.
Making Your Organic-Only List
Many new vegans lament the fact that organic produce costs more. If you are not growing your own fruits and vegetables and want to feed your family pesticide-free produce, one way to lower your expense is to make your own ‘Dirty Dozen’ list.
The latter indicates which types of produce contain the most pesticides, so avoiding produce like conventionally grown strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, peaches, grapes, cherries, etc. is key.
If cost has been stopping you from going vegan, try it for a month and compare costs. If you find that your bill has risen, identify items you can go without – particularly ready-made vegan burgers and meals. Veganism will turn you into a great family chef if you aren’t already one, so make sure to find the time you need to experiment and discover a whole new way of preparing scrumptious family meals.