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Vegan and low income?

post #1 of 22
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Edited by teeyairuh - 11/20/13 at 12:56pm
post #2 of 22
i live on low (to no...) income, it is actually the reason I chose to be vegan. i literally could not afford cheese and eggs at the markets anymore, especially the pricey "cage-free" "organic" blah blah blah, so i just stopped buying the foods I couldn't afford and that led to me being vegan.

don't buy fake meats and cheeses, they are expensive and are not the healthiest food choices.

these foods tend to be the cheapest in most stores and if you stick to seasonal, local produce the prices go even lower: beans, grains, vegetables and fruit

if you can buy dry goods in bulk, places with bins you can fill bags yourself are great bc you can get as little or as much as you can afford.
dried beans and rice are cheaper than canned beans and those premade rice packages.

fruit and veg in season is going to cost less, also if it is grown locally the prices tend to be better. its a good idea to learn about what fruit is in season and watch the prices drop at the markets.

nuts are a good way to add fats, also if you are having trouble with linoleic acid you should look into coconut oil and coconut water. nuts and coconuts tend to be a little bit more expensive, however we don't need to eat a lot of these so they can be budgeted.

check out this great blog, she eat low-fat vegan food everyday for only $3.33: http://melomeals.blogspot.com/
post #3 of 22
I've been there often. The vast majority of my diet in tough times consists of beans, rice, and a vegan multivitamin. You're not going to get much cheaper than that regardless of whether or not you're vegan. It's not the healthiest ever, but it'll keep you going and it's honestly still better than what a lot of people in the world eat.

I'm not familiar with what you can get at a food bank, but here are my suggestions for things to buy. I'd imagine a food bank would also have these things, though, since they're all cheap and common foods. Note that this is all from the perspective of being ridiculously broke. I don't recommend eating like this if you can avoid it.

1. Dried lentils, split peas, and any kind of bean. Never get anything in a can unless it's somehow cheaper than dried. I cook two pounds of beans at a time and freeze any that I won't get around to eating before they go bad.

2. Rice. The biggest bag you can find is usually the cheapest. Brown is better for you, so I recommend getting that if you find it cheap enough.

3. Stuff to make bread, biscuits, and other breadlike things (flour, oil, baking powder, yeast, etc.). I'm a big fan of the Savvy Abby biscuits. Remember that you can make almost anything with water instead of milk. Baked goods get way cheaper when you do that. I always use water out of habit now and everything still tastes great. Whole wheat flour is better for you than white, but it also tends to be way more expensive.

4. Vegan Multivitamin. I don't recommend skipping this. You're really missing out on a lot of stuff when you eat on the super cheap.

Spices, frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, and fruit are good, but are all terrible on a dollar to calorie basis. I'd say buy whatever you can afford here. A solid assortment of spices makes this kind of diet a lot easier. You want to avoid eating junk like potato chips and cookies. Sometimes these are a good deal for the calories, but they're also mostly devoid of nutritional value. You're already in rough territory there and there's no reason to make it worse.

One really important thing is to maintain a reasonable, healthy weight. This is just basic math, but it's obviously going to be cheaper to eat 1800 calories of food a day than to eat 2700. Being overweight is a huge waste of money. It also helps to be really short, but I can't give you any advice there.

Tl;dr version: buy the cheapest food for the calorie, take a vitamin, get/stay in shape. And do whatever you can to stop being poor. You can live like this, and tons of people have and will continue to, but it still sucks.
post #4 of 22
Like omni's, watch for sales and clip coupons.

I'm very low income as well. Sometimes I screw up, and wind up spending more on my meals than I'd like to. This happens when I buy ingredients for a recipe I find, and then when I fill my plates I do the math and discover that I've spent $10 or so per plate! Ouch!!!

As time goes by, though, you'll have certain go-to foods. Focus on covering all the vegan food groups. I actually sat down one day, and made a list of cheap foods for each food group so I wouldn't feel lost when making my shopping list for the week.

Peanut butter and fruit preserves sandwiches cover three groups: legumes, fruit, grains
Oatmeal with walnuts, raisins, and flax seeds covers four groups: Grains, Fruit, Nuts, Seeds

Some items feel pricey when you buy them, like flax seeds and walnuts, but you'll be spreading them out over a period of time, and they're a good nutrient investment.

Here is my meal plan for the week: Total cost for the food alone is $30-$35

Breakfast:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich w/ a 16oz glass of soymilk. ($2, $2, $3, $6(soymilk) for the week)

Lunch:
Spaghetti w/ "beanballs" (Beanballs are cheap when made from scratch...Google for recipes) ($2, $2.50, $1 for the week)
Green Peas (frozen) - ($2 for the bag, 1 bag for the week)
Kale - boiled in salted water ($2 per bunch, 1 bunch for the week)
Water

Snack:
Carrot Sticks ($1.50 for the week)
Great Value (walmart) Tropical Trail snack mix (contains nuts and fruits) <-- A $4.98 bag lasts me 7-9 days
Tea... Either an herb tea I purchased for $2 per box of 20, or some tea I stole from the break-room at work.

I go to bed early, so I usually skip dinner.
If I am hungry, I'll warm a can of canned spinach w/ "pepper vinegar" sauce, or I'll have a cup of miso soup.

*** I hate cooking, so I really will be eating this exact same thing for my whole work week. On my days off, I randomly munch on what I have in the kitchen. As you can see above, I'm missing "seeds" for the whole week. With this in mind, if I get the hungries at some point and feel that I must purchase a snack, I will stop at a gas station and buy either sunflower or pumpkin seeds - watching for gelatin. <--- Having a plan for stray snacking helps prevent snacking on more expensive items that do not contribute to your weekly food requirements.

*** I may also spend an additional $1-$1.50 on a bunch of bananas. The grocery stores were out (gasp!) when I did my shopping yesterday. Bananas are super cheap, about .25 cents each, and a simple way to include fresh fruits.

Also, DON'T BE AFRAID OF PRUNES!!! They're not an "old lady" thing for pooping. I don't even know where that came from because there are better foods for moving your stool. Prunes are very cheap, and just a few prunes knocks out a fruit serving.
Give thanks to Mother Earth for Her greatest gift...

...gravity.

For without it, we would be lost.
Reply
Give thanks to Mother Earth for Her greatest gift...

...gravity.

For without it, we would be lost.
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post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by teeyairuh View Post

Soo... lately I have been seriously pondering going vegan. I've been vegetarian for almost 5 years now and it was the greatest decision I have ever made. I feel so at peace with myself, the universe, other creatures, etc, except that I still know I'm, contributing to harm and suffering but supporting the dairy industry and etc. I've known for a long time I wanted to eventually go vegan, but I wanted to make sure I did it the right way and didn't end up sick or deficient in anything. My biggest barrier is that at the moment, I am VERY low income... so much so that I even need help from a food bank at times. So, I'm afraid that if I adapt a vegan lifestyle, I wont be able to eat properly and get the proper vitamins and things that I need. I've already gotten peely nails from lack of linoleic acid and am trying to work on that. So, is there anyone who has been or is in my same position with any advice on how to adapt a HEALTHY vegan lifestyle while on a very low income? I REALLY want to do this but I also want/need to be healthy. THANKS!

I never spent less on groceries than when I was a vegan.
Quote:
“There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, 'Consume me'.” 
― Virginia WoolfThe Waves
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Quote:
“There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, 'Consume me'.” 
― Virginia WoolfThe Waves
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post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by River View Post

I never spent less on groceries than when I was a vegan.

Everyone always says that, but you have to know HOW to spend less on groceries. Yes, vegan shopping is way cheaper, but if you're new to veg*nism, and especially new to cooking your own food like many VBers are, there is a very expensive learning curve when going vegan.
Give thanks to Mother Earth for Her greatest gift...

...gravity.

For without it, we would be lost.
Reply
Give thanks to Mother Earth for Her greatest gift...

...gravity.

For without it, we would be lost.
Reply
post #7 of 22
Thanks for the tips also I am going to take this when I ponder on my actual change to Vegan. I am slowly getting there .
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by teeyairuh View Post

My biggest barrier is that at the moment, I am VERY low income... so much so that I even need help from a food bank at times. So, I'm afraid that if I adapt a vegan lifestyle, I wont be able to eat properly and get the proper vitamins and things that I need. I've already gotten peely nails from lack of linoleic acid and am trying to work on that. So, is there anyone who has been or is in my same position with any advice on how to adapt a HEALTHY vegan lifestyle while on a very low income? I REALLY want to do this but I also want/need to be healthy. THANKS!

It is possible to maintain a vegan diet with a small food budget, but investing in a multivitamin or at the very least a B12 supplement is a must if you might not be able to afford fortified foods (fortified cereal, soymilk, etc). Seeing as you've already had some experience with nutritional deficiency, I would say that now might not be the best time to make big changes in your diet unless you are able to see a dietician.

I know you want to do what is best for the animals, but it's not worth it if you're not going to be healthy. I know you really want to do this, but it can wait until you are in a more stable situation in your life. How about working on helping animals through volunteer work or activism?
post #9 of 22
I have been where you are though I wasn't vegan and now that I am transitioning to it I still have a very limited budget. Here are things I'm doing to try and keep food costs down build your meals around beans, pasta, rice, and other grains. Shop at a discount store for all none parishables and household supplies. I alternate between Winco and super Wal-mart. Buy your begetables in season and keep an eye out for quick sale stuff. My local grocery gets new shipments on Wensday and so everything is marked down on Tuesday to make room for new stuff. Use store brans whenever possible. In terms of food banks The ones I've used did give out fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, and rice. Try asking them to give you more of this items instead of the powdered milk, eggs, and meat. Do take a multi vitamin. I got a 6month supply from Wal-Mart for $30. That works out to $5 a month. Lastly know it's a process and it may not be financially doable to buy all vegan household supplies, makeup, and certain food products and don't feel bad about that. Your still doing a wonderful thing for the animals, the inviroment, and yourself.

HTH
Audrey
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by RunnerVeggie View Post

I know you want to do what is best for the animals, but it's not worth it if you're not going to be healthy. I know you really want to do this, but it can wait until you are in a more stable situation in your life. How about working on helping animals through volunteer work or activism?

Why do you think that being vegan is going to be less healthy than not being vegan? I can't think of any reason that would be true in this situation. Am I missing something?
post #11 of 22
i am finding it very cheap to be vegan, especially if you're not a big buyer of prepared foods. i basically can buy everything i need at walmart except for occasional daiya cheese.
post #12 of 22
Check out this blog, it has some great tips: http://vegnewssavvyvegan.blogspot.com/

Vegans are basically saying, "Hey, animals shouldn't be needlessly harmed." It's amazing how many people that sentiment freaks out. - Vegan.com

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Vegans are basically saying, "Hey, animals shouldn't be needlessly harmed." It's amazing how many people that sentiment freaks out. - Vegan.com

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post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinkies View Post

Why do you think that being vegan is going to be less healthy than not being vegan? I can't think of any reason that would be true in this situation. Am I missing something?

I didn't say that. I'm concerned that someone who already has a nutritional deficiency and may not be able to afford supplements or fortified foods may not be healthy on a vegan diet without some help from a dietician.

Just so you know, I eat mostly vegan food myself.
post #14 of 22
I like this thread keep up the good advice.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by RunnerVeggie View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinkies! View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by RunnerVeggie View Post

I know you want to do what is best for the animals, but it's not worth it if you're not going to be healthy. I know you really want to do this, but it can wait until you are in a more stable situation in your life. How about working on helping animals through volunteer work or activism?


Why do you think that being vegan is going to be less healthy than not being vegan? I can't think of any reason that would be true in this situation. Am I missing something?

I didn't say that. I'm concerned that someone who already has a nutritional deficiency and may not be able to afford supplements or fortified foods may not be healthy on a vegan diet without some help from a dietician.

I'm a bit confused here, since it still sounds like you're saying exactly what I thought you were saying. By saying to stick to the current vegetarian diet to avoid being unhealthy, you're implying that being vegan will be less healthy than not being vegan. That's where I disagree with you.

I don't think the financial aspect in this situation would have any effect on being healthy as a vegan vs. being healthy as a vegetarian. I definitely haven't run the numbers, but I don't see any reason why being vegetarian would be noticeably cheaper than being vegan. The current deficiency is also not relevant since it can be easily dealt with on a vegan diet. After those, the only issues are the same ones facing everybody who goes vegan, which can be handled by doing a little research or asking questions up here.
post #16 of 22
I agree with not buying prepared foods. They can be very exspensive and you can make them at home. This month I'm making my own seitan, cheese sauce, brekfest sausage, italian meat balls, and pepperoni. All vegan. Also if you have a store that has bulk bins take advantage of that. I just found out Winco carries nutritional yeas so thats one less thing I'm ordering. Also if you do decide to buy something online like I buy my vital wheat gluten and tapioca flour try and get a deal on the shipping. I order all my stuff from amazon and make sure my order is $25 so I get free shipping.

Audrey
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinkies View Post

I'm a bit confused here, since it still sounds like you're saying exactly what I thought you were saying. By saying to stick to the current vegetarian diet to avoid being unhealthy, you're implying that being vegan will be less healthy than not being vegan. That's where I disagree with you.

What I'm getting at is that without proper supplementation of B12 in particular, it is risky to attempt a vegan diet.

Quote:
The current deficiency is also not relevant since it can be easily dealt with on a vegan diet.

I think it's very relevant, since the OP may not have sufficient access to healthcare to see a registered dietician and appropriately evaluate a new diet for nutritional adequacy. We don't know the OP's medical history and certainly aren't qualified to give medical advice.
post #18 of 22
B12 supplements are super cheap. Cheaper than any animal product you will ever buy, considering 1 or 2 pills a week should be sufficient to prevent deficiency since the RDA is only 2.4 mcg/day.

http://www.iherb.com/Jarrow-Formulas...enges/129?at=0

Check out Rice and Spice from your local library. If they don't have it, you can probably get it through interlibrary loan. It has some super cheap recipes because rice & beans are pretty cheap. I'm making a few things from it this week.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/155...ce-full-site=1
post #19 of 22
I agree with those say you have to avoid any of the processed vegan foods or vegan convenience foods. They are way expensive.

Could you talk to someone at the food bank about vegan items? If you are good at cooking, I'm sure you could come up with some very cheap meals. I'm a bread freak. Even at times when I was pretty broke (though I've never considered myself poor, just broke. I believe there is a difference) I was happy with a dinner of creamed corn, a potato and toast. I can make a meal out of just about anything as long as I have bread.

Good luck. And if that is your kitty in your picture, very cute!
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by audretoburrito View Post

I agree with not buying prepared foods. They can be very exspensive and you can make them at home. This month I'm making my own seitan, cheese sauce, brekfest sausage, italian meat balls, and pepperoni. All vegan. Also if you have a store that has bulk bins take advantage of that. I just found out Winco carries nutritional yeas so thats one less thing I'm ordering. Also if you do decide to buy something online like I buy my vital wheat gluten and tapioca flour try and get a deal on the shipping. I order all my stuff from amazon and make sure my order is $25 so I get free shipping.

Audrey

We have WINCO in my area too. I go about every 1-2 months. Great prices on spices too. Their bulk section also carries the dry re-fried beans which I really like and they are over a dollar cheaper a pound than the health food co-op. I have found their flour in bulk doesn't agree with me. They also carry organic oatmeal in bulk.
post #21 of 22
Massive List Of Money-Saving Tips is here:
http://www.vegansoapbox.com/save-animals-save-money/
post #22 of 22
If you buy everything organic and you are making your own food it can be a little more expensive. But that all comes with the lifestyle. It is true there is a learning curve to becoming vegan. Buy your TVP, Vital Wheat Gluten and other main ingredients for homemade food in bulk. I find it lasts longer and costs less money in the long run. Also, I am not sure of your situation but with me personally I also find it to be a lot cheaper to go to Trader Joe's first to get the majority of my food and whole foods last because it is "whoa" expensive. Then you also have some other options like Shoprite and Acme, which carry your Gardein brand and some other things at a smaller cost.
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