Does a vegan diet have to be expensive? Hardly. Our friend Lindsay Nixon (aka Happy Herbivore) has written a very fine article on this topic. She discusses this along with other misconceptions about what vegans eat. My favorite sentence in the article has to do with people's concerns of not having a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods close by. She said:
Not having access to specialty vegan products means you'll eat healthier. If you have access to fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans/lentils) and grains, you can eat a plant-based diet. Anywhere in the world has those foods. Keep it simple 🙂
I couldn't agree more. By not buying prepackaged foods, you are more apt to eat simply and likely more healthfully.
Here's the entire article:
Here are the top "vegan myths" I see floating around online -- or come my way via email. I also find these are the excuses people often give why they can't be plant-based. (Be honest, you know it's an excuse 😉
And no protein myth listed! (I think I've address that enough, if you haven't had your fill, you can read this post about vegan protein)
1. A Vegan Diet is Expensive / You have to Be Rich
I adopted a vegan diet when I was a starving student and I even managed to eat on $15 a WEEK in New York City! If you're on a tight budget, I can't recommend the meal plans enough. Most people report spending $30/person for the week.
2. I don't live by Whole Foods or Trader Joe's / No Vegan Products Sold Here.
I lived in a small island in the Caribbean for a year where all food had to be flown in (and consequently, many items would be out for weeks at a time) AND I wrote a cookbook there! I've also lived in really small towns and abroad with no issue. A Whole Foods and Trader Joe's is nice, but not required. In the last 4 years, I've spent the last 3.5 nowhere near a Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe's. Not having access to specialty vegan products means you'll eat healthier. If you have access to fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans/lentils) and grains, you can eat a plant-based diet. Anywhere in the world has those foods. Keep it simple 🙂
3. I don't like Tofu.
No problem. I didn't eat tofu for the first few years I was veg. It's certainly a helpful ingredient but you don't have to eat it to be plant-based. You can even be entirely soy-free on a plant-based diet. See this post: How to Replace Tofu
4. I'm gluten-free, soy-free / other food allergies
Our meal plans are gluten-free and soy-free. It's possible to be GF and SF on a plant-based diet. Keep in mind that a healthy plant-based diet is based on fruits, legumes (beans/lentils), vegetables and grains. All of those are naturally soy-free and except for a few grains, they're gluten-free too.
Allergic to beans? No problem. You don't have to eat beans. I recommend eating them if you can, but if you can't, no worries. All foods have protein so you get plenty, even if you can't eat beans. Similarly, if you can't eat grains, that's okay too. Allergies to fruits and vegetables can also be worked around. Any time you have an allergy, a little creative thinking is required, but it's possible and it gets easier over time.
One important thing to remember is that farm animals are fed all sorts of common allergens: corn, wheat, soy, etc. So adopting a plant-based diet is a safer option. My sister, for example, is allergic to cotton seed, which is in the meal provided to farm animals. This means even though she was avoiding cotton seed directly, she was still having allergy attacks. Why? The allergen was coming out in the meat, eggs, milk, etc. of the animals, causing her problems. It wasn't until she went plant-based that her food allergies were managed.