Healthy, Convenient, Inexpensive: The Three Dietary Pillars

My post the other day referred to a cashier's wish that she could afford to feed her family as well as a health-conscious customer. My point was that the more challenges you have in your life, the harder it is to make lifestyle changes.

Then I came across a post in the always thought-provoking Vegans of Color Blog: Does being vegan cost more money? Joselle's answer seems to be that reliance upon processed foods is what makes any diet expensive, not the animal product content.

I think the idea that being vegan is more expensive comes from the fact that many people think going from a meat-centered diet to a plant-based one means you have to “replace” your meat with Tofurky and Morningstar Farms.

There was actually a really good article in MSN Money about the cost-saving benefits of a vegetarian diet. They also mention the "payoff in better health" that vegetarianism can bring.  While you can't exactly transfer the savings from the angioplasty you would have had if you hadn't gone vegetarian into your savings account, someday you may look back on your lifestyle choices from the comfort of your own bed rather than a hospital bed.

Both Vegans of Color and MSN mention the Whole Foods effect: having all those expensive choices next to the bulk dried beans often makes you walk out with an impulse purchase or two.  For me, I've also noticed that resolutions to eat better make me pay attention to a subject that I tend to push to the outskirts of my consciousness: food. (Maybe this is my version of what Mark Bittman calls "a tendency among all of us who work with food regularly to become more than a little precious about it.")"This extra attention to what I'm fixing for dinner, as opposed to eating going for the fastest, least offensive nutritional choices, mean I think more about how food tastes. Suddenly it's not about satisfying hunger, but supplementing my lean pantry stock with the fixings for more elaborate dishes.

When I"m truly trying to stick to a reasonable budget, I avoid Whole Foods altogether. In my experience, the best cure for culinary temptation is to avoid proximity. If I"m searching for a recipe, I make sure it comes from a source that seems to have some kind of reality check as far as expensive exotic ingredients are concerned. If a recipe does require the investment in a bunch of ingredients, I try to consider if I will ever use them again. And each meal cooked at home is one meal that would have been more expensive to buy at a restaurant.

I'd be interested to hear from readers if any of you have saved money since reducing your animal product consumption.

Tags: Diet, Food, Health, Money, Vegetarian

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