Is Being Vegan Cheap and Easy? My Vegan Proclamation…

Vegan Cheap and Easy

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.

Vegan Documentaries

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!

Podcasts

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.

Veganism

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.

Health

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.

Environmental

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.

Costs

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?

Vegan Cheap

Wrap Up

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.

And if you missed the first two parts in my series of posts on health, check out why Healthcare Does Not Cause Job Lock and Understanding Retiree Benefits for Early Retirees.

Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan


Eat to Live Picture Credit: PictureQuotes.com

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31 Comments

  1. Have I mentioned my simple 23,000 step plan for weight loss recently? It’s simple, but not easy.

  2. [email protected] says:

    Wow – I’ll be curious to follow along with this decision you’ve made. I could lean toward vegetarian but not vegan. We have some crazy food intolerances in our family and it limits a lot of what I can eat in terms of fruits and vegetables. My husband also has reflux – and eating a high fruit/vegetable diet can wreak havoc on that. We’ve cut way back on meat though. We use a lot of greek yogurt as a protein source. I’m writing about food this week too 🙂 Maybe a theme for the Saturday Share Day!

  3. Such big lifestyle decisions are never easy. From my side I would really, REALLY miss meat and dairy products. At the same time we’re also introducing 2 veggie day in our family as there’s no doubt that a lot of fruit and vegetables have a great positive effect on your health. Just make sure you get all the nutrition from other sources that you’ll lose from not eating meat and dairy.

    1. It’ll be tough for us too, especially at first. But I’m hoping once we get into the new diet more we’ll miss them less and have good new alternatives.

      Having all the nutrients still is key and I think the big ones for a vegan diet are getting B12 and Vitamin D which aren’t otherwise synthesized internally. Not sure if we’ll take a simple vitamin or what yet.

  4. I have no doubt that being vegan could be much healthier. However, my main concern would be getting enough protein and staying full. As it is we get too hungry if we skip meat too many days in a row (like 2!) and that is with alternative proteins like beans, tofu, eggs or cheese. We raise our own chickens and I feel good about knowing where our food came from and how it was treated and fed. We hope to get hens (layers) next year. But I admire you for your decision and wish you the best of luck!

    1. Thanks Kalie!

      From my understanding on protein is that we don’t need as much as we think. I could be quoting this wrong from the documentaries we watched, but we need just 2-3% of our calories from protein and most all food items meet that threshold… Even white rice.

      So I think getting sufficient protein from other sources is attainable easier than I initially thought.

      That’s impressive you’re going the extra step of raising so much of your food… I think that too can be a big difference compared to our commercial sources for animal products!

  5. As you go on, I’ll be interested to see what happens. i admit, vegan has never appealed to us, (we go through tons of dairy) though we try to have at least one meatless day each week. I’d love to shift our plant based-to-animal products ratio a bit more.

    1. That’s a great first step, Emily. Hopefully you can continue that migration to more plant based as you get more comfortable with it.

      We’ll miss dairy big time but I’m impressed with all the dairy alternatives there are. It may not be too difficult. We’re already comfortable using almond milk now which we consume a good amount of.

  6. Very true! We’ve tried to eat more veggie-centric dishes with meat more as a side, and we’ve saved a lot of money. I actually prefer vegetarian dishes, but Mr. Picky Pincher is an incontrovertible meat eater. I’ve tried to sneak in meat-free dishes and he pretty much mutinies. 😉 But I do try to cook meals that can easily have meat added to them, like stews. So I get my veggies and the mistah still gets his meat. 🙂

    1. The vegan dishes we’ve made the last couple weeks now have been real good! I’ll miss my meat occasionally but no major issues here. Glad you’ve found a compromise with the mistah!

  7. Congrats and good for you! If you want any tips or are trying to fill a certain craving, which is no longer vegan, give me a shout! (PS. Ben & Jerry’s vegan almond milk ice cream! YUM!)

    1. Oh man that’s a savior right there! My wife was dying for one last Dairy Queen trip. She’ll miss the ice cream just as much as me and we’re both Ben & Jerry fans too. I’m looking to see where I can buy that right now, that’s awesome! That’ll make Lucy’s day as well, ha!

  8. Wow, very impressive. I am no vegan here, but in the last 18 months i have reduced my red meat intake by about 85-90%. It is more of a rare (pardon the pun) treat. And mostly when it is high quality. And honestly, even high quality opportunities just don’t taste that good to me any more. I don’t really miss it at all. I feel like there is just a lot of evidence to suggest eating red meat is not great for you. My wife and i did spend a few weeks as vegetarians but it wasn’t for us. I could see this type of lifestyle choice in the future or at least some version of veganism. If you are looking for a good vegan protein powder source, i would recommend, https://pescience.com/select-protein-vegan-series Although I’ve never tried the vegan version the other protein powders are awesome. You can use TRAVIS for a discount code. Travis is a youtuber who is sponsered by them. It gives you 30% off. I am not sponsored by them and get nothing. Just to be clear.

    1. That’s great you’re not really missing the red meats. We did that a few years ago and like you only had it on “rare” occasions.

      And as far as being vegan goes we may not go 100%. We may still enjoy our traditional thanksgiving meal for instance, but I don’t think we’ll miss the meat too much.

      Thanks for sharing the protein link!

  9. The thought of being primarily vegetarian has crossed my mind more than once. So I’m interested to see how your transition to being vegan goes. Fresh vegetables can be pricy, but so is a good cut of steak. I’m trying to introduce more ‘non meat days’ into my week. So not the cold (faux) turkey approach you are undertaking.

    Being an avid runner, I recently bought Scott Jurek’s book ‘Eat & Run’. Scott is an insanely successful ultramarathoner who is vegan. I’m looking forward to some inspiration from his book.

    1. Nice, thanks for sharing the book! I was surprised but in the documentaries I linked to they also featured many athletes who are strictly vegan and all the benefits they experienced like faster recovery from workouts, etc. Very inspirational and a testament of how nutritious and balanced the diet is still.

      Good luck on your transition toward veganism!

  10. This will be very interesting to see how you adjust. I’m a big fan of efficiency and the way we grow crops to be brought by truck to dirt feel lots so that cows, pigs, etc can be fed is completely ridiculous.
    Have you seen any of the work Joel Salatin or Greg Judy have done with revitalizing grasslands and having the animals feed directly off the land? It is amazing how grazing the lands appropriately bring life back to the plants and are completely sell sustaining.

    1. No I haven’t seen their work so thanks for mentioning. In the documentaries though they did mention how less efficient land use is when grass feeding our livestock and how that’ll lead to even greater deforestation. The only perfect answer is less animal consumption.

      Thanks for the comment!

  11. You are stronger than I. I have been meaning to, planning to cut back on our meat consumption for a while now, but it just never seems to happen. I need to stop making excuses and start making changes. I don’t think we’ll go vegan but we could definitely stand to lean much more towards vegetarian than we do now.

    1. A big hang up for us is the mindset change when planning meals. It’s helped to research new recipes and get a feel for how grocery store shopping will change. But I think once we’re comfortable with that there will be no stopping us. We’ll see but it’s going well so far!

  12. My boyfriend and I went from full on meat eaters and dairy lovers in Colorado (boyfriend was even a hunter!) to full blown vegans. I saw a vegan specialist (she was also a Family Practitioner) who also went vegan because one of her patients were having ongoing issues that would NOT stop. Her patient came in one day and asked if she should try giving up dairy and meat to see if it would help. It reversed all of the health issues she was having, and they were MAJOR issues. I get a lot of crap for going vegan, and I think it’s because people think we’re casting judgment onto other ways of life. People also LOVE their meat, especially in the United States where most people eat meat at every meal (which is not common in most of the world). Anyway, my doctor ended up starting a podcast and now works alongside Dr. Furhman (wrote Eat to Live). They are reversing diseases in hundreds of people, and changing lives all across the world. I wish more people would take a step back and realize how much good the plant-based diet has on the body, environment, and especially on the animals, at a time where so many factory farms are thriving and abusing millions of animals.

  13. Oh, I mentioned that little story about the patient coming in and talking about giving up meat and dairy products because that’s what made my doctor go vegan. She was inspired by the results. My doctor’s husband lost 60 pounds and my doctor was able to get rid of ALL of her allergy medications!

    1. It’s stories like that which made my wife and I go vegan. The documentaries showed similar accounts and it’s hard to ignore. It may not solve all ills, but it will only help. So we thought there is no point in waiting until we’re sick to switch.

      And sounds like our switches were very similar, with me being a hunter just like your boyfriend! Although, in defence of hunting, I would say there are differences in hunting for sport for an animal that has lived a good life relative to those on farms living a pretty dreadful life.

      Thanks for the awesome comment, Alexis! I too hope others have a wake up call!

  14. Great post! I switched to a plant based diet about 6-7 years ago and I can vouch for the health benefits. You will be amazed at how your taste buds change and cravings for fat, sugar, and salt completely go away. Good luck on your journey GS. If you have any questions along the way don’t hesitate to hit me up.

    1. That’s awesome, MBC, very inspiring! I should have known the Magic BEAN Counter ate a plant based diet! 🙂

      I hope we have the same experience as you and I’m very excited about this lifestyle change!

  15. This post made me super happy to read! Congrats on making a fantastic decision. We switched to a 100% whole foods plant-based diet 2.5 years ago and it has been an amazing experience. For us, it all started when we cancelled our cable and started watching documentaries on Netflix. Forks Over Knives had a huge impact on us as well. I’m excited to read more about your experience. If you ever want to chat about anything, reach out anytime. I love conversations with people who “get it.”

    1. That’s awesome, Dollar Habits! It is inspiring how you made the switch and have stuck with it so long, great for you folks! Funny how our transitions started out the same…the power of Netflix documentaries 🙂

  16. As a multi decade vegetarian, I applaud your decision GS, and wish you best with it. Expect withdrawal symptoms in the first couple of months but you will be absolutely fine. I am not a Vegan as we love dairy far too much but I can see being on this diet for rest of my life. Though I did not have lofty goals about the environment, I find my system loves vegetarian food and sustains me well. There is lot more variety in Vegetarian food than what people assume. Maybe I should start a recipe section in my blog?!

    1. Nice! I’ve loved all the positive feedback from others who have made the decision as well, it’s so encouraging to us as we start out! I hear you on the love of dairy, that will be a struggle but we’ve found some good dairy alternatives already (even ice cream!)

      I know we’d get great use out of a recipe section on your blog :)! But we have been enjoying the variety and selection of vegan recipes we’ve found so far which has certainly been helpful in our transition!

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