Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Does being vegan cost more money? February 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joselle @ 12:26 pm

In a word, no.

I thought about this topic this morning while reading a blog post at Bitch magazine titled “Going Vegan or Going Crazy?” The author, Lisa Factora-Borchers, shouts out Vegans of Color and then states that, while recently experimenting with vegan cooking, she’s found the diet expensive. She asks:

As I contemplate someday having a family, is veganism realistic with little ones who may be picky eaters?  How economically affordable is natural and organic for a growing family?  What are the ways to eat, cook, live well on reasonable budget?

Factora-Borchers doesn’t detail what she’s buying or cooking but most respondents to the post said something to the effect, “Hello, rice and beans!”

Here is part of my response to the post:

Vegan or not, if you buy processed food, it’s going to be more expensive. If you buy seasonal produce, dried and canned beans, grains in bulk (or even an big bag of Uncle Ben’s), and tofu (which is usually 2 for $5 at my local big chain supermarket; each pack provides 3 to 5 servings, depending on how much you eat. That’s a lot cheaper than one steak), you’ll be spending less money. I think the idea that being vegan is more expensive comes from the fact that many people think going from a meat-centered diet to a plant-based one means you have to “replace” your meat with Tofurky and Morningstar Farms. Or that you have to shop exclusively at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods).

None of that is true. Bananas, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, pears, oatmeal, peanut butter-those are all vegan foods but no one ever calls a banana vegan. They call soy ice cream vegan. We’ve got to move away from thinking being vegan is about eating processed “replacements.” Eating vegan means you eat food that grows. That food, in season, is almost always cheaper than organic cookies and chicken parts…

A last thing to think about in terms of the costs of vegan food. What about the long term costs to animals who are enslaved and tortured in factory farms, the costs to the underpaid and abused workers who have to kill the animals on our behalf, the costs to our environment from the toxins created by factory farmed animals, and the health care costs of eating animal parts and then needing a quadruple bypass? Sounds like being vegan might be one of your cheaper options in the long run.

I must admit, I am a foodie. I love to browse gourmet shops and, yes, WholefreakinPaycheck is a guilty pleasure of mine. I will wear shoes with holes in them but spend $11 on pink Himalayan salt. But the bulk of what I eat–canned chickpeas, seasonal produce, tofu, pinto beans, pink beans, black beans, beans beans beans, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, nuts–I spend a lot less on all of that than what I would have spent years ago on a single serving of filet mignon.

I have the money to buy what kind of food I want. I have the time to trek out to farmer’s markets . In my boyfriend’s gentrifying Philly neighborhood, there are low-priced supermarkets but the closest store on his block is a convenience store that only sells variations on chips and cheese in plastic containers. When I went shopping with my grandparents to markets in poorer neighborhoods, however, there were still fruits and vegetables there. And they bought them. Maybe they weren’t organic and fancy but they were plants that grew from the ground.

I do think a plant-based diet is cheaper in the shorter and longer terms. What has been your experience?

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56 Responses to “Does being vegan cost more money?”

  1. Mark Says:

    Here’s a neat article I put in a recent Mad Cowboy Newsletter about “recession-proofing your diet by going vegan:

    http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977293259

    Now, if one is using a lot of vegetable oil (expensive, bad for you on many counts, not even a real food) and/or processed vegan products (fatty faux cheeses/meats), then the expense definitely increases.

    Most people don’t realize that you can make a very large pizza crust (whole grain) or 2 lb. loaf of bread for around a $.75 to $1 (last time I did the math, a few years ago). A bread machine makes it 15 minutes of prep.

    Finally, shopping bulk for beans, grains, etc., will also save significant money. Bottom line: in general (and there are a few exceptions), anything coming in plastic, a can, or a box, will most like cost more than “getting it raw” or making it yourself from fresh ingredients.

    FYI, Mark (color: it varies!)

  2. adam Says:

    A recent Wall Street Journal article shows that though Americans are spending less on food in the recession, overall people are purchasing/spending less on animal flesh (when prices are up) and more vegetables than before (though, they are spending more on milk and eggs as well). Why would this be if a vegetarian diet is more expensive than an animal-based one?

    Another thing to consider is the long term cost of food on one’s. One bumper sticker I’ve seen says it all: “Vegetarianism is an affordable health plan.” Eating whole veggies now may save thousands of $ on hospital bills in the future… and what’s wrong with “rice and beans”? It’s all about the spices!

    I’ve found that purchasing whole veggies and fruits tends to be comparatively cheaper (unless all someone buys is ramen and pasta, which I’ve seen people do). But I know vegans who spend less than me because they purchase canned and frozen veggies–which you’d think would be more expensive. I figure they have a much higher ecofootrpint and contain less nutrients, but most things I’ve read suggest otherwise. How do other peopel feel about choosing canned/frozen veg over fresh veg?

  3. johanna Says:

    I <3 Joselle! Great post.

    I had some similar thoughts while reading that post. There are lots of tips on cheap vegan eats online — is there a vegan blog that hasn’t discussed this at some point???

    Also specifically re: kids, I remember the Vegan Lunch Box blog this summer talking about how the neighborhood non-vegan kids would rush in & eat up the veggies & fruits she had around for her vegan son. I particularly remember her saying that one young girl had eaten 4 or 5 pieces of something — might’ve been sugar snap peas — before stopping to ask, “Oh yeah, what is this?”

  4. Johanna, I heart you too!!!!! I am picturing some kid eating sugar snap peas like candy. Too cute!

    Adam, I buy frozen peas because they are easy to throw in rice dishes or heat up quickly when I don’t want to cook. I love frozen peas. So sweet and yummy. I also buy frozen corn. Otherwise the produce I buy is fresh. Nurtitionally speaking, frozen produce is actually more nutrient-dense than fresh produce (particularly fresh produce that’s not local) because it is frozen soon after being picked. Canned veggies never did it for me. I’m still traumatized from my grandfather’s mushy canned creations! But I think it’s better than not eating veggies at all.

    I still buy mostly canned beans because I am lazy. I really need to make a midyear resolution to soak those bad boys and cook them myself.

    Ecologically, buying fresh, local produce over canned and frozen is preferred but it’s not always feasible.

  5. ThoughtCriminal Says:

    It’s funny because, right at this very moment, I’m eating a quickly made, makeshift meal. While preparing the meal I had the very same question in mind – how much does this cost? I attempted to calculate the cost of the ingredients. They were 1 cup (dry) of quinoa (i think – $1.70 per lb), 1/4 can of tomatoes ($1.59 per can), a handful of frozen corn ($2 per 16oz bag), a handful of frozen shelled soy beans ($2 per 16oz bag, 2 leaves of kale($2.50 a bunch), about 2 cups red cabbage (i forget the price but it’s cheap), and some dyhydrated herbs and spices and sea salt. All the ingredients were organic.
    Since I’m unsure of the exact prices and amounts of the ingredients used I, of course, cannot tell exactly how much this meal cost but, as you can see by the prices of the items, it’s extremely inexpensive. Not to mention that it’s was delicious (dare I say… gourmet?) and healthy, I have leftovers for later, AND I still have plenty of all the ingredients left for other makeshift concoctions.
    Joselle, I think you’re correct when you say that the reason people think veganism is more expensive is because they are trying to “replace” the animal products in their diet. When I first became vegan, for the first couple of months, I ate mostly processed, packaged products. It was really draining my money supply and I didn’t feel all that much better, health-wise, than as a vegetarian (except for the life-long stomach cramps I no longer had from dairy products). I think, for many reasons, that it’s problematic for organizations like, say, PETA to promote all the “mock meat” items as if they are absolutely necessary to transition into veganism. That’s another story altogether though…
    Adam, I don’t mind eating some frozen vegetables but I really dislike canned veggies. I’ll eat them if I have to but they are just so mushy and flavorless (besides a blast of saltiness). I make an exception for tomatoes because fresh organic tomatoes can be quite costly. To answer your question, I prefer fresh veggies to frozen or canned.

  6. good post! I’m a POC & a vegan; so, I often think about the ways that popular notions of veganism are entangled in some sort of privilege.
    & for the most part, I’m convinced that eating vegan is a feasible, inexpensive option for most people in the u.s. & similar countries.

    In order to have a good vegan diet, though, having access to fresh produce is essential; so, I often worry about the ability of people living in certain communities to have ANY sort of healthy diet, let alone a vegan one. I live in Hyde Park in Chicago, for example – it’s a tiny little enclave of whiteness in Chicago’s largely black & latino south side; and HP-dwellers have so many outlets for getting fresh produce.

    People in nearby communities don’t have those options, though. They’re basically living in what amounts to a “food desert” where their only food options are fast food or a local corner store that might sell nachos, burgers, or similar crap. It’s difficult for me to imagine how they can break out of that cycle.

  7. You might be a vegan if… Something is currently underwater in your kitchen! Eat more beans!

  8. supernovadiva Says:

    LOL I spent 23 dollars for black truffle oil! but hey i don’t have cable. it balances out. overall veganism is cheap if you cook from scratch.

  9. Dani Says:

    Joselle, I think you make a lot of great points, but, for me, the question isn’t, “Does being vegan cost more?” But, rather, “Is healthful food that is nonexploitively produced (regarding human, other animals, and the earth’s resources) accessible to everyone?”

    The problem I have with the title question of this post is that I think it fails to challenge the ideology of capitalism. That is, I think these sorts of questions tend to assume that we are rational individuals in the marketplace each acting towards our own self-interest, and that if being vegan is most cost effective way to live then the market will select for it. (This is what I see when cost analysis is being discussed, whether comparing the price of vegetables to meat or health costs of a vegetarian diet to a nonvegetarian diet, either way it’s a question about what’s the most rational choice in the marketplace.)

    So I think the question relies too much on class privilege, because if you’re poor then by definition you don’t have access to the marketplace. That is, you first have to have money before you can participate in marketplace, and the more money you do have the more you access and power you have to participate. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a plant-based diet or not, all food costs more than you can afford when you’re poor.

    So that’s why I believe the question about access is important, because it hopefully gets beyond capitalist ideology and leads to a deeper understanding that many people don’t access to healthy, nonexploitive foods. And the next step — after we recognize that not every on can eat, let alone eat well — to asking why that is and what can we do about it. That’s the kind of discussion I would like to see taking place.

    • Dani,

      These discussions can “easily” be found in the “Skinny Bitch” book series….

      (sarcasm)

      But the “accessibility” question is central and am glad you offered a rephrasing of the question.

      I do hear often from many vegans in more economically stable background that “going vegan is cheaper”, and I feel like the argument is missing a lot to it, mainly the “access” component.

      Thanks
      Breezie :-)

  10. Alicia Says:

    Here’s what I wrote as a comment on her blog:

    A couple months ago I wrote an article on my blog called the “Recession Proof Vegan Pantry” I’ve linked to it here. http://veganguineapig.blogspot.com/2008/10/recession-proof-vegan-pantry….

    Bottom line is that plant foods are cheaper than meat based foods and their derivatives. If you choose to eat organic then yes organic foods will be more expensive than conventional but…plant based organic foods are still cheaper than meat based organic foods and their derivatives. There are plenty of poor college students out there living as vegans. I have been out of work for 6 months and thank God I’m vegan because I don’t know how else I would have been able to stretch a dollar this far.

    And I have to correct one point in your post. Children are not picky eaters. They are as picky as their parents allow them to be. It has been well documented in study after study that it can take up to 10 tries for children to like something this has a lot to do with their underdeveloped taste buds and the fact that they are exploring new things. But more importantly, children will eat what is around them. If you offer them junk food, candies, sugary snacks or only one type of food all the time that is what they will ask for time and time again. If you offer them fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains then that’s what they will want. I grew up an omnivore but eating vegetables in our house was never an option. It was a part of every meal, even breakfast. I never even thought to question it. If I didn’t like the way something tasted the first time I would still finish my meal and my parents would try it cooked a different way the next time. That’s probably why I’m so adventurous with food now. I’ll try anything (as long as it’s vegan) and if I don’t like it the first time I’ll still go back and try it again. Cook it a different way, pair it with different things and see what i come up with. Basically, long story short it’s all in the options you give them. I know many children who beg for raw broccoli as a snack. Go completely wild when their mom’s offer them medjool dates as a treat and look at you like you’re crazy if you attempt to give them fast food, candy or any other type of junk.

    But really, I recommend checking out the blog post http://veganguineapig.blogspot.com/2008/10/recession-proof-vegan-pantry…. Hopefully it should help.

  11. johanna Says:

    I think food security/food sovereignty/food justice/access, whatever you want to call it, should absolutely be connected to discussions of veganism, just as discussions about the treatment of produce workers or other similar issues should be.

    (But I do think that Joselle touched on these issues in her post, talking about differing access in communities w/different levels of financial privilege… tho’ I think we should probably all be talking about this stuff more [self included of course].)

  12. ThoughtCriminal Says:

    Thanks Dani and all for making sure the accessibility issue isn’t overlooked. It definitely hits close to home for me.
    Within the last couple years Whole Foods (then “Fresh Fields”) pulled their store location out of my neighborhood, in which there are many poorer people and people of color, and opened a brand new location ten to fifteen miles away in the posh old town district where the vast majority of people are white, upper middle class (with very little “middle”).
    So now my neighborhood is left with very few fresh, whole food options, especially bulk and organic food. I have to drive or take the bus across town to have access to most of the ingredients I mentioned above and I know many people in my neighborhood don’t have the time, or money, or transportation that I do to travel across town just to get groceries.
    What’s most accessible to people in my neighborhood is “cheap” fast food, “cheap” processed junk food, and “cheap” beer and liquor, so that’s what many people consume. It’s a huge problem.
    So again, thanks all for not letting this go unnoticed.

  13. Angel H. Says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while.

    One thing that hasn’t been addressed is availability. Because of my income, I shop at stores like Sav-a-Lot, Aldi’s, Dollar General Market. The kind of stores where you pay a 25cent deposit for the use of a shopping cart, where what little produce they have is squeezed into a small corner, where the words “tofu”, “soy-based”, “quinoa”, or “gluten-free” don’t exist. If I want to choose between more than 5 different fresh fruits and vegetables, I would have to take the bus downtown, and transfer to another bus just to get to a neighborhood with the kind of stores that carry that sort of thing. Even if a low-income area has a major grocery chain, they’re not going to stock what they can’t sell. The Krogers on the east side isn’t going to have a large selection of vegan products, but the Krogers on the west side will.

    What I’m saying is that the cost of availability isn’t being factored in. This is the issue that I believe veg*nism doesn’t do very well in addressing. A person may spend less money walking out with a bag full of veg*n foods, but what about the person who has the carry that bag all the way across town, because those foods aren’t available in their own neighborhood?

  14. Noemi Says:

    I don’t even know what black truffle oil is! But I do have beans soaking in the kitchen.
    When I used to table at local shows along w/ my zines I’d make vegan cookies and always try to have a bowl of apples or bananas, which I’d display at “vegan bananas.” Everyone got a kick out of that.

    I’m compiling a zine of vegan recipes-that I’ve used in past when I don’t have access to a stove/oven and much food. Eating vegan poor IS possible.

  15. supernovadiva Says:

    noemi, i knew what truffles were because of my lifelong watching of food porn (pbs baby lol).
    i know everybody’s argument about access and dare i say racism?/classism from grocery stores. the minyard’s that’s a short distance of my house has the worst produce area i’ve ever seen. years ago it had a great produce area that was a long large multi aisle. now it’s a sad corner. the neighborhood is still black. there’s still the middle class here. when i was a kid there were 3 grocery stores in that shopping area. by hitching rides i have to get out of my area some to get to the ‘considered mexican’ grocery store Fiesta. that store is also owned by minyards. blacks love produce too if it’s presented as an option. in fact people in my neighborhood have to frive there. both stores offer WIC so it’s not finances. if the minyard’s near my house had better choices (short bus ride away) i think maybe the people will choose it. where i see a lot of work has been put into a better shopping experience in stores in upper class neighborhoods, this minyards has bad lighting and mostly instant/ frozen foods. you’re lucky to see soy milk. don’t ask about tofu (which i feel you can live without). also i noticed that the WF, farmer’s market and Central Market in the white upper class neighborhoods offer cooking, knife skills and new food classes. no such classes are offered in mine. i don’t even know how to define it.
    Fiesta even have a caribbean/ west african aisle. you can buy fufu there.
    as for the truffle oil. bought it at WF. i had a recipe i wanted to try and occationally i’d buy something out of my comfort zone. some people may say “23 bucks for oil?!” where i may say ‘you spend how much a month on getting your hair styled?!’ all in point of view sometimes. still have the oil months later…

  16. supernovadiva Says:

    plus priorities come to mind. i know cats with low budgets can get online to buy ringtones then buy name brand shoes, yaki, rims, stunner jewelry etc online or real life. these are not all teenagers. these are people with kids. you’re not broke if you have full package satalite cable. which do you want: food or that knock off coach bag? i get in that argument now and then when the ‘eating healthy cost too much’ issue comes up.

  17. johanna Says:

    Ah-ha, I finally found the Colorlines article from a few years ago that talks about access in low-income areas & profiles a few efforts to change this situation; it’s online here & does a pretty good job, imho, of showing the trickiness of the situation.

  18. Angel H. Says:

    Johannna: Thanks so much for the link!

  19. adam Says:

    I think Dani make an excellent point. We ought to look not only at the larger system and understand why certain foods are cheaper than others, but also how to ensure nutritious food is affordable and accessible to everyone–not just ourselves. But I think it’s not solely the fault of capitalism, but also the structure, government, and priorities of our society when even people in rural towns (like farmers) are food insecure.

    and, yeah, it is possible to eat vegan while poor–take this California couple who ate only $1/day worth of food–; but just because someone may be getting enough calories, doesn’t mean they are getting sufficient micronutrients for optimal living and long-term health–especially with sparse diversity of fresh/whole produce.

  20. Alicia Says:

    You spoke my thoughts supernovadiva! Now that I’ve been unemployed for over 6 months and have hung out at the Department of Health and Family Services (aka the welfare office) for some days on end (they aren’t very efficient so if you want to get anything done it will take days of sitting in a waiting room) I’ve come to see that it all comes down to the choices we make and what we feel is most important to us. Of course that gets into a whole conversation about what we are taught is important but that’s a whole different discussion. Basically you’ve got your new weave, new nail tips, just got your pedicure and about to go buy a new outfit for the club tonight (which has a cover charge and the drinks aren’t free) but you are using your food stamps to buy potato chips and fruit loops I just have to question the priorities and what you want.

    On the flip side, I know there are many people out there who do want to eat better but just don’t have the resources available to them to do so. A million years ago my grandmother used to work for the welfare office teaching people how to cook nutritious meals with the things they could buy with foodstamps and government food. I doubt they still have those type of programs for people to help them learn how to properly shop and prepare meals with the resources they have available. And on that note. I’m going to sleep!

  21. Claire Says:

    supernovadiva- this is a small point in your post, but you mentioned stores that accept WIC- maybe this has changed recently, but i’m pretty sure that WIC can only be applied to dairy, cereals, and juice (maybe some other things), but not fruits and vegetables.

    food deserts are a huge problem in some areas. one of my dreams is to have a vegetable truck that goes around neighborhoods that don’t have the best access to fresh produce, with stuff grown from local farmers. People’s Grocery in oakland has an awesome video on their website about their gardens and vegetable truck that makes me so happy to watch. (there are similar systems in other cities as well, like troy, NY.)

    i’ve often heard the whole veganism=privilege meme. first, i think that for MOST people in the U.S. eating vegan is not out of reach, financially or in terms of accessibility, although i know that it might not be possible for everyone. but second, i don’t feel like the fact that it’s not necessarily within everyone’s reach is a valid reason for people who ARE capable of going vegan to not do so. i think it makes sense to work toward a scenario in which everyone has access to healthy vegan food, not for people to use the fact that maybe not everyone is capable of being vegan right now as an excuse to continue eating animal products.

  22. supernovadiva Says:

    sorry i should have said they accept WIC and food stamps. well WF does too. WIC, depending where you are, just cover dairy, cereal, formula, frozen or canned juice and peanut butter or a bag of dried beans. I still remember it. They were considering in my city allowing vegetables. By the poster i think it is carrots- yes because we in our culture run to the table for carrots (eye roll). BUT STILL when it was rumored that the next city over were going to do that, women inquired. they wanted vegetables included. some of them were like me- giving that milk and stuff away to family members.
    i know the grocery stores, prior to the ‘announced to the upper middle class recession’ were having financial problems. but what they did was close most of their grocery stores in the black neighborhood. yes they closed them all over but it wasn’t as if their parking lots were empty on my side of town. people were shopping there. we’re just low priority. i never attended one nutrition class while i was on the dole- never saw one.
    STILL sometimes it comes down the choices. I agree we need more fresh vegetables available and we should make it available though IN the public schools. some of these parents aren’t even buying apples. they are feeding their children fire hot cheetos and coke. we have to do the mcdonalds approach when it comes to eating right- create a demand through the kids.
    i feel for you, alicia. sitting around for government services open your eyes to a lot of things and you always leave teed off- well i did, but if it wasn’t for my daughter…

  23. Noemi Says:

    a part of WIC, WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, coupons can be used at farmer’s markets-

    http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/fmnp/FMNPfaqs.htm


    Basically you’ve got your new weave, new nail tips, just got your pedicure and about to go buy a new outfit for the club tonight (which has a cover charge and the drinks aren’t free) but you are using your food stamps to buy potato chips and fruit loops I just have to question the priorities and what you want.

    please explain the part where you can dictate what others may spend their food stamps on.

  24. Noemi Says:

    i don’t feel like the fact that it’s not necessarily within everyone’s reach is a valid reason for people who ARE capable of going vegan to not do so.
    this. I’ve seen it used as an excuse and frankly I think it’s a cop out. Also the scenario that until all our food is really violent free in terms of who is harvesting, preparing, working with, there is no reason to stop eating meat–this sort of self-pass doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Diamond Says:

      Noemi…is your low budget zine online??? I’d definitely be interested in taking a look at it…I’m considering going vegan for and with my two small children…

  25. supernovadiva Says:

    neomi i hate to say this but if you ask for my tax dollars to help feed your family, you better damn well put my tax dollars toward that. not saying by being poor you have to sport cardboard flip flops. i’m saying wait on the weave. payless won’t mark you for life. and if you can’t afford to feed your kids, you better be snapping your fingers to the radio till you can afford to go out.
    i think alicia may be pointing out that some states don’t do stamps anymore. they use debit cards that are atm accessable. thats where the question comes in.
    the farmer’s market thing is awesome. i hope people can actually access that.
    i don’t want to demonize what a few do with government money making it seem that everyone misuses the system.

    asking people to go veg does ask them to go against everything they’ve been taught. that can be scary. it can almost sound as if you are asking them to risk their life.
    as far as everyone’s reach- you can give people a leaflet on how and why to go veg, but if there’s not a store in the neighborhood that provides the produce etc, they will easily revert back to the eating habits they know.

  26. meridith Says:

    I’m late getting to this, but thank you Joselle for the post and your thoughtful response on the bitch blog. I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance who was surprised that I was vegan and said something to the effect of “Eating vegan is expensive and not healthy.” We talked about eating a variety of foods and moving away from the idea that the perfect meal requires meat/protein at the center of your plate. Then I told her some of the foods I’ve been eating recently, lots of Mexican-inspired dishes, made from ingredients commonly found at any grocery store. I doubt I won her over entirely but I feel she came away from the conversation knowing that vegan does not equal blowing your entire paycheck on omni subs. I find the vegan shopping = Whole Foods example hilarious since I’ve never been to a Whole Foods!

  27. Joselle Says:

    There are so many great comments. Thank you all for sharing more about this. I know this is a complicated issue and I certainly don’t have any answers.

    All I know is that this program, People’s Grocery: Healthy Food For Everyone, sounds great (I’m not sure if it’s been brought up here before) and I’d love to be a part of implementing a similar one in the Philly-area: http://www.peoplesgrocery.org/

    From their mission statement:
    “People’s Grocery is a community-based organization in West Oakland that develops creative solutions to the health problems in our community that stem from a lack of access to and knowledge about healthy, fresh foods. Our mission is to build a local food system that improves the health and economy of the West Oakland community.”

    And from their FAQ:
    “People’s Grocery is currently running a West Oakland Greenhouse at 936 Brockhurst, two urban gardens in Oakland and a 3.5 acre farm in Sunol. Many low-income residents of urban areas, such as West Oakland, do not even have access to sufficient fresh foods. People’s Grocery is working to increase, grow, and produce food through a network of gardens and micro-farms.

    We have a weekly produce box called the People’s Grub Box. It is full of organic, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables from our farm and gardens and other nearby farms. (Click here for more info.)

    Each month, we have a People’s Grub Party, a community event featuring a guest chef demonstrating a healthy recipe, a nutrition presentation by our Peer-to-Peer youth, guest DJ’s, poets and art. Everyone gets to sample the food and take home produce from our gardens and farm. It’s free and open to people of all ages. Check our calendar for the next Grub Party.

    Finally, People’s Grocery provides a wide variety of programs for youth and adults in the community. We offer a Peer 2 Peer Youth Program which delivers interactive peer workshops about nutrition, fast food, obesity, gardening, organic farming, and more. We also offer free cooking classes to promote fundamental cooking knowledge and healthy ingredient selection.”

  28. [...] I came across a post in the always thought-provoking Vegans of Color Blog: Does being vegan cost more money? Joselle’s answer seems to be that reliance upon processed foods is what makes any diet [...]

  29. Alicia Says:

    Noemi I think you are missing my point. I’m not dictating what people spend their food stamps on I am telling you what I see as misplaced priorities. If you read my entire comment in context rather than just pull out tiny quotes here and there you would see that. You would also see that I reference a broader scheme at hand that goes into the factors around us that cause us to make these poor decisions. Choosing aesthetics over health and life is by the very nature of all animals counterproductive.

    Needless to say I am not telling people what they should buy with their food stamps what I am saying is that I shop with food stamps and I see others who shop with food stamps as well. We have the same amount of money going on our EBT cards every month yet they choose to make unhealthy nutrient deficient choices. These are choices that they make. I am not telling anyone what to buy just pointing out the choices they make. And I rarely buy a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables anymore because it’s easier to buy more frozen fruits and vegetables because they last longer. I buy a couple heads of lettuce from time to time and some kale or collards but otherwise I head to the frozen foods section and get the big family size frozen vegetables. I’m saying a lot of it has to do with the choices we make and cannot all be blamed on income alone. This scenario, of course, would only apply in areas where grocery stores are available not just a small market with little to no fruits and vegetables.

  30. Thanks for writing about this. I completely agree.

    In fact, I’m cutting back myself. What that means is that I’m becoming more of a “hardcore vegan” and making more of my own foods. I’m getting fewer processed foods and more whole foods. I’m eating more potatoes, beans, and rice.

    And I’m doing it for my health, primarily, not my budget. But my pocketbook will see the difference, too :)

  31. [...] VOC: “does being vegan cost more money?” [...]

  32. Lyndsay Says:

    I would say it depends on where you live. If someone lives anywhere big enough to have more than one grocery store, then a healthy plant-based diet is probably cheaper. I read that processed foods (not sure if that includes canned) are the same price all over Canada but the price of fresh foods varies a lot, mainly depending how far you are from a city I think and also depending on what grocery store you go to.

  33. bfp Says:

    guess how many welfare moms I know who have enough money to shop at payless. Or get their weave done? Stop playing on tired fucking stereotypes of what poverty looks like. (and as a side note, as somebody who lived in family housing at my local university for four years, can I just say that I saw PLeeeenty of white families who were getting money from their rich families and sitting on welfare AND eating meat? Why the hell do we seem to think that “welfare queens” are getting weaves and nails done, thus implying that they are black women who are feeding chips to their children? THUS implying that it’s black women who are holding up Teh Cause?).

    Also, I know that plenty of people of color, myself included, grew up eating things like baloney and tortillas and other unhealthy but cheap food. Maybe, just maybe these blood sucking welfare queens are making choices based on what was taught to them? And if self-righteous folks want women to use “their tax dollars” in efficient ways, a really awesome way to encourage that would be to not play on tired stereotypes, but to hold cooking classes so that people can relearn how to cook, create zines, like what noemi’s doing on how to cook on the cheap, hold educational seminars etc.

    Maybe the ball is in VEGAN’s corner to change things, not poor/working class mothers that have no damn idea what a vegan is any damn way.

    And finally–who the hell eats filet mignon? Why do people always assert, oh, eating vegan is so much cheaper than eating filet mignon? As if there’s a whole bunch of poor people eating filet mignon? How about you compare eating vegan/vegetarian to eating baloney sandwiches? Or picking up a couple of burritos off the dollar menu at mcDonalds?

  34. Jack Says:

    How does the time it takes to be vegan fit into the larger economic perspective? Time for cooking can be prohibitively scarce for folks with kids, multiple jobs, etc. Eating out is an option when short on time, but doing that on the cheap and staying vegan seems like a big challenge, worse in some areas than in others. But do folks find that it takes more/less/the same amount of time to cook a nutritiously satisfying & filling vegan meal than to cook non-vegan? I imagine lots of prepackaged foods and ingredients that can cut down on prep time are not vegan.

    Also, it’s really upsetting to see racist and classist stereotypes trotted out in a conversation like this. Thanks, Noemi, for speaking up against that. It’s certainly possible to enable and encourage folks of all class levels to eat healthier and more humanely within whatever resources they have without condemning, judging, and perpetuating oppressive stereotypes.

  35. supernovadiva Says:

    bfp, i’m in dallas. to assume it’s just black girls getting weave and nails done is false. maybe it’s a regional thing.
    lol @ your filet mignon comment. ain’t that the truth. maybe we should do a vegan ‘cooking with ms. clara’ class.
    i’m going to check out what’s happening in my community in that regard.

  36. Joselle Says:

    bfp, you bring up some good points that were touched on in my original post and in the comments (like cooking classes, access–these things were brought up earlier). I did not go into great detail about these issues because my post was directed at something more specific. My post was not about can poor people afford to be vegan (although, again, I did touch on it by talking about access to food in poorer neighborhoods). My post asked if being vegan across the board is more expensive than not. I was responding to another blogger insinuating just that and in my experience, that hasn’t been true. My post was about my experience and then asking others what their’s has been.

    Also, I think you are conflating being a person of color with being poor and that is problematic. I’m Latina but not poor. So who the hell eats filet mignon? I did when I ate meat. I was using that as an example because that’s what I used to eat when I ate dead cows. Sorry if that makes me suck in your book but it’s the truth.

    Jack, I think you are absolutely right to bring up time and energy as resources that are just as limited as money when you are poor.

  37. Liz Says:

    One of the things about vegan eating/cooking and $$, is the initial investment. You should probably spend a good deal stocking your pantry at first with essentials, such as different flours, sugars, baking supplies, nutritional yeast, flax seeds, beans, oils and vinegars, herbs and spices, nuts, grains, canned goods such as diced tomatoes and chickpeas. But, once you do that you really only need to buy fresh produce from the store maybe once a week and plan your meals so that you don’t buy anything you don’t need. Also, looking for managers specials in the produce section for the best deals and buying in-season. I only do a big shopping trip MAYBE once a month to restock the essentials which have gotten low, and it’s usually only a couple of things such as olive oil. Baking bread or flatbreads is very fun and economical. I learned how to make tortillas and they are very easy and quick. At first being a vegan, you may feel the need to replace meat products with seitan or tofu or other mock-meats but it’s really not even necissary to get all of your protein, since there is protein everywhere you look in a vegan diet, such as oatmeal (cheap!).

  38. Alicia Says:

    BFP, I am speaking from personal experience and what I have seen with my own eyes, people who I have sat down and talked for hours while sitting and waiting for my own foodstamp verification. Some of them for two or three days (because the welfare office here is the worst and it literally takes days of sitting there to get anything done). So I’m not just speaking off of stereotypes I’m speaking of what I have witnessed with my own two eyes. There were people there who were honestly trying to make their money last and use it on nourishing themselves, putting clothes on their kids back, gas in the car or a marta (public transportation) card. But there were also plenty of people there who fulfilled the stereotype too. I think you should read my comments in their totally. I have referenced several times in both my comments that there are other issues at play here but either way it goes, it doesn’t make what I witnessed what my own two eyes any less true or real as well, no matter what the deeper issues are. My entire field of study is to figure out the “why” behind what people of color eat so to even begin to talk about all the intricacies behind it in a couple comments on this blog would simply be impossible. Trust me I understand where you are coming from, and I hate it when there are people out there fulfilling the stereotypes but they are indeed there. The why behind it is another long long story.

  39. nosnowhere Says:

    there are way too many comments here for me to read so i’m going to tell u as someone who was vegan and one of the posters here and is no longer vegan; YES, being vegan costs more money, time and convenience. so all the ppl who have those things to spare should do it. for the rest of us, i don’t know. i live in detroit, its a FOOD DESERT, unlike the original posters city fresh produce is even harder to find than grocery stores– u can get eggs at the gas station.

  40. For me cooking vegan is cheaper than when I was lacto-ovo.
    And I am sure it’s cheaper than using meat.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    The Vegetarian Society Of The District Of Columbia (vsdc.org) used to run a program called “Eat Smart”. It was led by a nutritionist. They would go into economically disadvantaged areas of the city to teach people how to spend less money, improve their nutrition and eat vegan. It worked They did it for several years in a row and I kept meeting graduates.

    Yes a *little* bit of education is needed but a vegan diet isn’t a luxury diet.

    There are no expensive or cheap diets, just habits. If you are into making more of your meals yourself and being aware of prices you will spend less money.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve been a vegan for over a decade and vegetarian for almost 3 decades. All of the comments in this thread I have seen many times over the years.

    There are all sorts of reasons understandable ( but not right ) to flat out lame why people want to tear down veganism with hatred, bogus anecdotal accounts, citations to junk studies and when those things fail trying to paint it as luxury for elite people that the good salt of the Earth people just can’t afford.

    This blog post will not be the last time I see it either.

    I feel sorry for Keith. I had chronic pain for a number of years. I couldn’t do many of the things I loved. I felt powerless. I felt angry.
    I wanted something to blame. I can understand what she is feeling.

    I sincerely hope she finds her cure someday.

    I also hope the other haters get over whatever somebody said to them to make them feel small so they can feel free to be happy and stop pissing on a beautiful lifestyle choice that can help our world so much.

  43. Jarrod W.C. Says:

    I’ve found that being vegan doesn’t cost more in the long run. For anyone. Being health is wealth, not money. We have to examine what we spend our money on; I get alot of people who say “your vegan, but that health food’s expensive…” so I examine first, all the junk that they spend their money on including; fancy unecessary (mainly sweatshop derived) items. Instead of buying new clothes every week spend some decent money on quality food for quality of life and longevity… no more excuses..

  44. [...] on this blog I can’t even link them all); racism among vegans & AR activists (ditto); whether a vegan diet is cheaper; how vegan doesn’t always mean “cruelty-free”; factors that affect access to [...]

  45. Leigh Says:

    Some really interesting comments on here. It’s lovely to see an informed and intellectual discussion rather than the ‘gut’ reaction that you often get when broaching the subject of veganism.

    I’d also link the debate to that of feminism, and poverty in a wider sense. If you look at the connections between meat as an aspirational foodstuff, and observe the way that the protein myth is perpetuated as regards who gets the scarce meat in traditional family situations in less ‘developed’ countries it’s alarming to think of the changes that are to come as food shortages increase, and farm land is used up to raise more cows for beef and grain/soy to feed those animals.

    I was putting together a similar piece for my website and am really glad I found this page and all of your insightful comments before I did. It’s also re-inspired me to either find a local group working towards improving access to fresh and nutritious food, or start one if it doesn’t exist in Victoria, BC, where I’ve just moved to from the UK. I used to live in a little place called Chorlton, Manchester, England, and there was an excelletn community group there that collected ‘spare’ fruit and veg from people’s back gardens (with their permission) and distributed it to local refugee groups or those in need. They’re called Abundance (google abundance manchester and you’ll find them!) and worth checking out as a model of how to start small, just a few people on their bikes with trailers/panniers, and improve access for all.

    Cheers,
    Leigh (TheTastyVegan)

  46. [...] “In a word, no.” – @vegansofcolor.wordpress.com   @answers.yahoo.com/question [...]

  47. Kylene Says:

    Great article! i was considering going vegan for a healthier lifestyle, but i was afraid it was going to cost more and that i wouldnt be able to afford it. Thanks for opening my eyes and letting me feel confident with my choice!

    -Kylene
    My Veganism starts today! ;)

  48. Edna Says:

    I am thinking of not eating ( beef,pork, chicken) I watched a video of where/ what walmart supports getting their meat from, it was horrible, I cried I did cried and tear up when I remember those images of those innocent lives we humans destroy. I cant say I’m going vegetarian all of a sudden but I will say I’m going to do my best to get there. I have recently change all products to cruelty free/vegan! Thank you take care, xoxo
    <3 Animals

  49. John Says:

    Ok, first off i am not Vegan or Vegitarian and i am not here to critisize or give props. What i am though is interested. I have been trying to find useful information on the cost of being a vegan for a speech that i am doing. This is how i came to be looking at a blog named Does being vegan cost more money?. Reading a blog with that name one would assume to find answers to the question “Does being vegan cost more than being non vegan?”. What i find is it does not cost more to eat like a vegan but infact is cheaper, but to just eat like a vegan one would be deemed a vegitarian as there is a lot more to being vegan from what i have been able to find from the internet as well as talking to both vegans and vegitarians. From my understanding (please correct me if im wrong as this is a learning exp.) a vegan does there best to not use any animal products or byproducts such as leathers or animal tested products ect. but a vegatarian deals with mainly there diet. So what i am looking for is someone that is a Vegan to the best of there ability to share with me not only a shopping list of basic needs from the grocery store but also the items and prices of all the other items that go into being a Vegan, dish detergents, clothing, makeup, and so on. Regretably i dont have alot of time to write my speech so i dont think this information will get to me in time if at all for me to use it but that dosnt make me any less interested. Sorry for any spelling errors, typos, and/or the improper use of basic English for all the english teachers out here that may read this but i have a speech to write and dont have time to fix them and thank you in advance if you decide to take the time to help me with my questions.

  50. Salman Al-Farisi Says:

    It can cost more, but doesn’t have to cost more. It depends on where you shop and the food options you buy. Where I live Lennox, CA, one can buy very inexpensive food; that is, if you want what is available in most “Mexican-like” food stores: boxed, over-processed, rarely finding soy products, bad produce etc. A few blocks away (Hawthorne, CA), there are 2 different markets from which to choose, both selling soy milk, only one with tofu and decent produce. On the rail line (Manhattan Beach, CA), I get to TJ’s and Fresh & Easy, both good prices (I think), but it is a whole different city. Inglewood, CA has Von’s, which can be good or bad; selling decent Vegan options at decent prices. When I lived in Mexico (Chihuahua), all the prices were low, finding anything Vegan there was a treasure hunt; unless, you’re in Mexico City. Fortunately, there are plenty of Chinese in northern Mexico, I was able to buy soy milk and tofu there.The alternative meat products (ToFurkey, Soyrizo, etc.) are expensive but plain tofu is cheap. If you can buy bulk items in your local market, they’re cheap too. Odd or deliberate, most stores carrying bulk foods are in more expensive neighborhoods, except San Francisco’s Rainbow Grocery – easily accessed from zip codes rich and poor. Farmers markets are usually cheap but not in all neighboehoods or all cities. To save money, just buy soy or alternative milk, tofu, veggies, and grains for your consumption, shop farmers markets, and bulk foods, if you can tind them; and, don’t fall for the frozen vegan meals.


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