Monday, 19 October 2020

How To: Vegetarian On A Budget For Beginners

 "Consuming vegan and vegetarian food is expensive!" This is something I hear ALL the time and truth is, it really doesn't have to be. I've been vegetarian for four years now and through some trial and error, I've really learnt a lot and how to nourish my body with what it really needs.

Firstly, veganism is when you don't eat any animal products or by-products. This includes meat, milk, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, fish etc. I am vegetarian, which means I don't eat meat or fish. Granted, lockdown had me cave in to sushi, so it's been a learning experience for sure. People decide to become vegan or vegetarian for different reasons. I did it because of the environment; the meat industry (including fish) is exploiting a lot of natural resources and even depleting our oceans. Here are the things you need to know to get started.


1. If you're not vegetarian or vegan yet...

Please do proper research on what your body needs. Many people who choose to eat this way use supplements, and B12 is a common one because it is found in animal products. Do proper research and take your time with experimenting with recipes, learning what you like and trying out different foods. Too often people rush into this, but if you're not careful you could actually damage your body because you may not be nourishing it properly.


2. Tips on saving money

This one depends entirely on what you buy and where you buy it. A lot of people think not eating animal products is expensive, when truth is meat probably costs the most and it's something that's often found on your plate. Veganism especially will be expensive if you're constantly buying processed meat replacements such as burgers, bacon, sausages etc. This way of eating is not high in demand and in most places, there is a lack of accessibility. Being vegetarian is inexpensive, as vegetables, fruit and dairy make up most of your diet. However, if you're uncertain on where to start, here are some extra tips:

  • Buy fruit and vegetables that's in season
  • Buy from local brands or supermarket brands
  • Create shopping lists so that you avoid impulse purchases
  • Meal prep if you have the time
  • Learn how to make it (for example, oat milk can literally be made from oats which is generally cheap to buy).
  • If a place near you gives a discount for bringing your own cup  / bowl, try to keep one on hand
  • Carefully look at the expiration date and the best before date. The expiration date can be bad for your health, while best before just means it's no longer as good quality. 
  • If you shop at farmers markets, go early to stock up, or go later for discounts. Befriend the farmers and ask if they need any of their containers back - fruit farmers and farmers who sell eggs often appreciate their cartons being returned and you may even get a discount.
  • Look if there are any vegan / zero waste stores in your area. If there are and it's within your budget, try to bulk buy but be responsible so you don't waste food or money. 
  • Cook with friends and split the cost.
  • Make your fruit and veggies last longer by freezing it and using it in smoothies, smoothie bowls or for vegan ice cream
  • When grocery shopping, stick to the outer perimeter of the supermarket, most of the processed and expensive stuff tends to be in the middle. 
  • If you always go to a supermarket, opt for basket unless you know you need a cart/trolley. This is to prevent you from subconsciously buying more stuff you don't need. 

3. How and where to shop
Farmers markets are great resources but if you don't have them, aim to stick to local brands or even supermarket brands if you need things to be more affordable. Alternatively, you could try to grow some plants like basil or avocado at home -  as you can see, it's all about learning and doing your own research. Some of my best tips I can give are to never skip legumes - unless you're allergic or don't like them, of course. Legumes are great sources of protein; lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts are good places to start and experiment with. Dark leafy greens are also great for calcium, fibre and iron and you can easily make things like veggie burgers, oat milk, homemade spreads and veggie rice dishes by searching through cookbooks or exploring online. In addition,  Google vegan and vegetarian seasonal pantry staples and make your own grocery list from that.

If you're in Cape Town, South Africa: Nude Foods, Food Lovers Market, Shop Zero and Lekker are some of my favourite places to visit. With the beautiful weather, starting a garden is doable by simply reusing the seeds from produce you had. You can also shop package free and vegan by bringing your own reusable bags (even reuse plastic bags - sustainability doesn't have one look!) and implementing the tips I shared. 

If you're in the Netherlands; Dille & Kamille, Jumbo, Albert Heijn, Aldi, Lidl and local farmers markets have a variety of vegan and vegetarian friendly options. Places such as Bagels and Beans, Don's Noodle Shop and Xu Noodle Bar also have vegetarian options.

4. Youtubers and Instagrammers to check out
The internet is filled with a ton of information on almost every platform! Instagram has a massive eco and wellness community and Youtube is great if you prefer more indepth visual content. The Youtubers I enjoy are Sophie Esperanza, Pickuplimes, Gittemary, Jamie Oliver, Amanda Ducks, Kristen Leo and The Cottage Fairy. As for Instagram, I'm constantly lurking the pages of NaturallyNadsss, SproutingSadah,  Pickuplimes and Veganbowls. 

Do you have any suggestions on how to be vegetarian on a budget, or even any questions? Let me know in the comments and I'll get back to you!

All my love,