Hello folks! Do you know someone who is vegan? I’m sure you do and if you are anything like me you probably think they are a bit weird…a bra-burning hippy with hairy legs may come to mind. I am here today to try to burst those perceptions. You may ask “is going vegan cheap and easy?”…well let me tell you it is. And that’s coming from a recent convert…
Not only is vegan cheap and easy, but there are MAJOR health benefits and environmental benefits, that is if you are into protecting the environment for our future generations. And if you know anything about me, something that is cheap and easy, has health benefits and helps protect our environment and I am likely all over it. As I type that now, I begin to wonder why I didn’t come across veganism earlier…I guess I was a little asleep at the wheel. And maybe you are too…so let me tell you more on how I decided to become a vegan.
I have always been interested in documentaries about food and healthy diets, etc. It all started about four years ago when my wife and I stumbled across the documentary titled Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (2010). This introduced to us the idea of micro nutrients and the benefits of juicing. The documentary has an amazing story and it is quite convincing of the benefits of having more fruits and vegetables in diets.
From that point on we actually began juicing. Not for every meal, but we began juicing our breakfast and that helped get us lots of fruits and vegetables in our diets. Lucy actually had rewards through her work that she cashed in for a real nice juicer. We did this and stuck with it for over a year. Our schedule was knocked off a bit with the birth of our first son and we don’t juice much after, but we’ve still focused on a heavier fruit and vegetable diet (for us and Jr).
We’ve now have another swift kick in the butt to improve our diets. While on family leave with the birth of our second son, we binged on a couple new-ish documentaries. One titled Forks Over Knives (2011) and the other Food Choices (2016). Both were great, somewhat similar, and equally persuasive.
We are now ready to commit our family to a vegan diet!
I caught up with one of my brothers and mentioned going vegan to him. Turns out him and his wife were also starting to come around to veganism. He shared with me a couple podcasts he had listened to recently and I reciprocated by sharing the documentaries.
The first podcast he mentioned was from the NPR series titled How I Built This and featured the founder of Beyond Meat: Ethan Brown. His start-up is focused on creating meat in a lab from plant products/proteins. Beyond Meat has a number products available in groceries stores around the country if you wanted to try them. While there is further row to hoe, sounds like Beyond Meat is making great strides in producing similar and comparable meat products.
The second podcast is from the series Intelligence Squared titled Let Them Eat Meat: There is Nothing Wrong with Rearing and Killing Animals for Human Consumption. This is interesting because it is a debate format podcast so you can hear the pros and cons of eating animal products.
Let me take a step back quickly to explain veganism. This is quite simply a plant based diet…no animal products which includes meat, dairy, and eggs. So when you hear someone is vegan, just think of a diet from anything that grows from the earth…a plant based diet (grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes).
I don’t want to go into all the numerous benefits that a vegan diet offers. For one, this would be a massive post, and secondly, the documentaries and podcasts do a much better job than I can.
But quite simply, a vegan diet offers three strikingly important benefits.
The evidence of the health benefits is pretty overwhelming and irrefutable. Just look at The China Study. No matter how old you are, what your historical diet consisted of, and no matter what current disease and illnesses you may have, a plant-based diet can help you live longer and healthier. The only thing you’ll ask is why you didn’t start long ago.
I’m 31 and becoming a vegan at this age is great, but can be much more powerful for my two sons, age 3 and the other is 1 month.
The environmental aspects of a vegan diet are multi-faceted. First there is the point about the humanity of our livestock and fisheries. I’ve always turned a blind eye to this in the past, but YouTube some videos and that may be all you need to become vegan…
Secondly, there is the global food efficiency. Currently we use the majority of our arable land to grow feed crops for livestock. That corn growing in Iowa…not sweet corn my friends, that’s feed corn. It takes tons of crops for livestock to convert into muscle which we then eat. From a caloric efficiency standpoint (especially considering there are billions of malnourished around the world), a plant-based diet is more efficient.
Thirdly, there are billions of livestock around the world including chickens, pigs, cattle, lambs, etc and besides the methane gas from burping and farting, they all breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas.
And lastly, there is the point about deforestation which has garnered particular attention in Brazil with the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Yes, if you are living under a rock, the biggest rainforest in the world is under threat; all for the purpose of raising livestock and growing more feed crops. Related to the point above about caloric efficiency, we wouldn’t need to tear down the rainforest if we didn’t need as much feed crops.
There are two points I would make about costs. First, many folks initially think that going vegan is more expensive. Not necessarily! I’ll be interested to see how much our budget changes over the coming months / years, but I don’t anticipate it to be more costly. Especially when you consider the cost of meat and cheese…not cheap and prices continue to climb. Yes, almond milk is more expensive than cow milk, but it’s gotten cheaper and can be bought in bulk from Costco for comparable prices.
On the other hand, more grains such as oats and pasta are cheap as well as many veggies such as potatoes and fruits such as melons, etc. Overall, I expect the price per pound and per calorie of a plant-based diet will be cheaper.
The second point, besides the cost of the actual food, is related to the long-term cost of a plant-based diet…I’m referring to long-term health and wellness and the cost of healthcare. As the growing evidence shows, there are significant benefits from a health and cost of healthcare related to a plant-based diet.
Is being vegan cheap? My answer…no doubt about it.
A New Mindset
Going vegan isn’t all rainbows and kittens, it will admittedly be a tough transition for my wife and I. We both enjoy our regular (nightly…) ice cream. I love me some BBQ. I love pepperoni pizza. I love Mexican. This will not be an easy at all!
But this is a change in mindset. I don’t need these foods. We’re going cold (faux)-turkey. I can find really good alternatives and perhaps other things that I will like even more. I’ve already looked it up, there are replacement products that I could consider such as ice cream made from full fat coconut milk, etc. I could look into Beyond Meat. I will learn to make a mean veggie burger.
This is a lifestyle decision for us though, primarily driven by the health benefits. We are going to retire early and we want to live a long healthy retirement.
While we are talking about retirement, I can’t help but compare this change in mindset to the change in mindset that it takes to get your finances in order and retire early. Many folks in the financial independence retire early (FIRE) community (myself included) preach about improving financial literacy and getting on the path to retire early. To me, there are major parallels between health and finances and maybe it is time to preach a little about health awareness.
What are you doing to take care of yourself?
Hopefully this may spark your interest or intrigue of veganism. If you aren’t ready to make the jump now, maybe you will come around to it eventually. Like I said earlier, when it came to veganism it was more of me being asleep to the issue and topic. I find it strikingly similar to how many people are asleep to the issue and topic of personal finance. Sometimes we all can use a wake-up call!
I feel veganism is a cross-issue topic of lifestyle, health and wellness, environmental and personal finance (because being vegan can save you…) so no matter the point of view you bring to veganism I hope you found this article somewhat interesting.
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan
Eat to Live Picture Credit: PictureQuotes.com