Food & Travel

3 Quick Tips For Veganism on a Budget

Vegan on a budget

#MUNIonThis: Can you go vegan without breaking your budget?

My transition into veganism came about as a result of an overall lifestyle change. Early this year, I realized that as a college student it was easy to worry about tests, about boys, about life after graduation; but I had forgotten to stop and think about what I was putting into my body. Give me a pack of ramen for lunch or a bowl of cereal for dinner, and I was set. Needless to say, this soon got old, and I eventually decided that my diet needed to change.

Why Go Vegan?

Many people choose to go vegan for their health, for environmental reasons, or for ethical reasons regarding the treatment of animals. True enough, veganism has been linked to decreased stress levels and increased happiness, and by eating a plant-based diet ourselves (as opposed to feeding plants to animals raised as livestock) we promote sustainability through the efficient use of land and water.

Myth of Veganism

However, may people are put off veganism by the common misconception that it is just too expensive. But as a student whose money goes mostly towards tuition and living expenses, I can tell you that veganism is not just inexpensive, but has cut my grocery bill down by almost 2500 Php a month! Think about the food we already eat− breads, grains, fruits, veggies− and you’ll realize that all it takes to go vegan is some adjustment. Switching from red meat to tofu or meat substitutes, for example, is what allowed me to cut down my grocery expenses by so much. And with a little patience, you’ll be sure to find a dairy substitute that is best for you.

So how easy is it to go vegan? Hopefully with a few tips, you’ll find that it is much easier than you think…

Protein Alternatives
Eating a wide variety of foods is a key aspect of going vegan, particularly for getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.  Remember to buy protein and iron-rich greens like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, and you won’t have to spring for expensive vitamin supplements. Processed vegan patties and sausages can also be expensive and aren’t necessarily healthier than non-vegan products, so sticking to raw veggies or tofu (which can cost as little as 80 Php per kilo vs. 120 to 240 Php for red meat of the same amount) will not only be cheaper, but better for your body in the long run.

Fill ‘er Up
Stocking up on beans, lentils and grains is one of the best things you can do to cut down grocery costs. Not only are raw grains better for you than bread or pasta; they are filling, cheap and can be paired with almost every meal. Beans and lentils, which are readily available at your local grocery store, are particularly high in protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. However, simply making the switch from white to brown rice is already enough to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and protect yourself from cardiovascular disease.

Dairy Alternatives
Who doesn’t love cheese? Or ice cream? Or chocolate cake? Have no fear− you can still have these things and more on a vegan diet. In fact, ice cream made from coconut milk is actually much creamier than regular ice cream, and there are many websites which teach us how to make cheese substitutes from nuts [1], coconut milk [2], and even potatoes [3]. Need dairy for baking? Use applesauce instead. And don’t worry about your chocolate cravings− dark chocolate is actually vegan, as it contains no milk!

Veganism to me was not a plunge, nor a dive − not even a struggle. It was something that simply developed over time, starting from cutting out eggs, then meat, then dairy, until one day I woke up and realized I had become a vegan. This, I think, goes to show how easy and natural it is, and that we don’t need to break the bank in order to eat healthy. All it takes is a little flexibility, and most of all, creativity!