Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vegan on the Cheap

The vegan is a herbivore in an omnivorous world. Ever notice how much it costs to buy vegetables? I have noticed in the low income areas of my city (Toronto) that it is more and more difficult to find healthy options. Thank God for supermarkets that offer healthy goods at decent prices. Sometimes, I buy foods at these businesses when I need to stretch (s-t-r-e-t-c-h) my dollar. But most of the times I choose to eat organic which is a little pricier but eliminates the other stuff I don't want like pesticides, genetic modification (GMO), and more fair farming practices. There is a reason why buying vegetables cost more in the US which is the government (RE: tax dollars) heavily subsidize the meat and dairy industries which are largely factory farmed. Thus, it is cheaper to buy meat and dairy than veggies in the US. Having grocery shopped in both the US (New York City to be exact) and Canada, I think we Canadians have it a bit better for purchasing fresh produce at more affordable rates. There are more options for me living in Toronto to rely on cheaper healthier sources for my veggies like food co-operatives (like Karma Food Co-Op, The Big Carrot), discount supermarkets (like No Frills, Price Chopper), community non-profit initiatives to access healthy food for all (like FoodShare, The Stop), and farmer's markets (like Dufferin Grove, Evergreen, The Stop Farmer's Market). Whole Foods, a popular US food chain which stocks many a vegan product, is relatively new in Canada. I thought we still had two locations but now I've seen that it has expanded to seven. Although very lovely, Whole Foods is considered more high end and a bit of a luxury here in Canada. Whereas my sister in the US indicates that Whole Foods is not that much different in price than other supermarkets.

Veganism is replete with healthy options. So when a book like Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money by Robin Robertson comes along, it's a lifesaver. Now vegan eating is not only cheaper but takes less time. I really appreciate that. I will be going back to work soon and juggling writing, planning a wedding, and other commitments, so any tool that helps me to save on these precious resources (time and money) is a god-sent. So what can you learn from this book? On Page 2, Robin starts off with selling you on, "How a Vegan Diet Can Save You Money?" 1. Grocery bills, 2. Medical bills, and 3. Dining out. The cost of being a vegan is slightly higher upfront but can have a great benefit in the long run. She provides helpful meal planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation tips, as well as a cost saving comparison chart. If you make some of the vegan basics (such as mayonnaise, salsa, sun-dried tomatoes, seitan, vegetable broth) from recipes in her book instead of buying the store-bought products, you can save over $ 72.39. I have had the pleasure of trying out many of these recipes, which you can find photos of in my Vegan on a Budget (Vegan Photo Album 4), for the last few months. Vegan on the Cheap is a frugal masterpiece and a necessary addition to the thrifty efficient cook's bookshelf. Robin Robertson has also written a whole library of vegan cookbooks which you can check out on her site here.

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