Sunday, October 7, 2012

Vegan Myth: I Can't Afford to Stop Eating Meat!

I know, I've already posted today but this topic has been on my mind and I really need to address it..

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance regarding the ban on hunting in Costa Rica. While I was thrilled with this decision, she expressed her concern, said she hopes that the US doesn't follow suit.  It seems that in her poverty-stricken area, quite a few people depend on hunting to supplement their food supply and she doesn't know how they would survive without that option. First of all, the ban is on sport hunting, not subsistence, but anyway..I replied that perhaps they could just cut down or eliminate meat instead, she explained that quality produce is also not abundant in her town.  I'd like to address those issues.

First of all, I do not agree with sport hunting, period. There's plenty of other hobbies/sports out there that don't require slaughtering innocent animals, please find one. As far as hunting-for-food, unless you are lost in the wilderness, starving, I don't see any reason for it. The cost of hunting - license, supplies, ammo, etc. adds up, doesn't it? Couldn't you just as easily take your hard-earned dollars to the corner grocery store and buy a slab of ribs or pound of hamburger? Actually, don't answer that question, it's not going to matter to me. My bio dad is a hunter and we've had plenty of heated discussions over the years, finally just agreed to disagree. If my own flesh & blood hasn't been able to convince me that hunting is a Good Thing, no one else is going to. So let's just leave it at that.

Secondly, there is no physical need for we humans to consume meat.  As millions of vegans prove each day, we can survive quite nicely without animal flesh.  Which leads me to my next, and most important, point:

A vegetarian diet can, and should, be cheaper than one centered around meat. 

Now, I say this as a woman who has spent many years both as a vegetarian and an omnivore, who continues to live with a meat-eater (two, if you count Loki), who is the budget maker, shopper and main cook in my household. I know what I'm talking about here, folks. Since I went veg, our weekly food bill has decreased, and that's with me buying high quality, organic-when possible products.

One of these things is not like the others...yes, I still occasionally buy meat for my man, and my dog!

If I needed to, I could cut the cost much further by making a few changes:

*Buy conventional produce. Yes, organic is better for the environment and your body, pesticides aren't good for us, but if it came down to it, I'd sooner eat conventional produce than give up my plant-based diet.  I truly think the health benefit outweighs the risk.

*Buy frozen, in bulk, instead of fresh.  In areas where good fresh veggies aren't available year round as they are here in Suburban Florida, use frozen! The nutritional value is almost the same as fresh, and you can buy in bulk at one of those super stores. If you're hunting, chances are you have a big freezer in your garage or basement, right? I mean, that meat has to go somewhere. How about filling it up with vegetables and fruit instead?

*Stock up on pantry staples when they're on sale. My friends and family know that I'm the Coupon Queen, save hundreds of dollars per year in sales and coupons at the local grocery store. Yes, it takes time and effort but the rewards are so worth it! Build yourself a little stockpile of canned goods, pastas, sauces, rices, etc. These items are super-cheap, have a long shelf life, and can be thrown together to make a meal in minutes.  An example is the photo below, something I created the other day. I took a can of chick peas, a box of instant quinoa (you can also use rice), frozen spinach, vegetable broth, fresh mushrooms (you can use jarred), garlic and onion. I sauteed the veggies and chickpeas in the broth with a little spice, plopped on top of the cooked quinoa, and voila, dinner! I think the whole thing cost me about 5 bucks, took about 15 minutes worth of my time, and produced several servings. Was it the fanciest dinner I've ever eaten? No, of course not. But it was hearty, healthy, quick & tasty! Some nights that's simply good enough. 

Now, if you want to shop exclusively at Whole Foods and specialty stores, if you rely on frozen veggie meals and faux meats, you're going to spend more money. I myself use those items sparingly, and often as a condiment, not the main ingredient. I may add a cup of veggie crumbles to boost protein and bulk up a chili, or sprinkle some soy Parmesan on top of whole wheat pasta for flavor, but I don't fill my freezer with convenience products. Not only are they expensive, they're also a bit too processed for my liking. I prefer to eat real, whole foods as much as possible.  Better for my body, and my budget.

So, there you go, my soapbox rant for the day. Feel free to chime in, I'd love to hear your opinions, as long as they're not pro-hunting. *Smile*

P.S. For further inspiration, check out one of my favorite cookbooks,  Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson. I'll be posting some recipes from here soon.


  1. In fact, the nutritional value of frozen is often BETTER than fresh. Fresh foods are picked green and often have added chemicals to make them ripen once they reach their destination. Frozen is picked at the height of it's nutritional value, flash frozen, with little to no preservatives or additives (so slightly better than canned) AND lasts longer.

    We love organic frozen in my household!

  2. Jess, you are absolutely correct! As much as I enjoy fresh veggies, I realize they aren't always..well, fresh! I never feel guilty for substituting frozen.