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, , 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?