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Newly vegan but poor

Discussion in 'Transitioning' started by Rosie W, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Rosie W

    Rosie W New Member

    Joined:
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    Vegan Newbie
    Hi,

    So I’m at uni which means I cook for myself and have a lot of control over my lifestyle choices. I have decided to go vegan and have been doing a slow transition rather than one extreme to the other.
    I don’t yet feel super knowledgeable about vegan life, and I have two main questions.

    Firstly, I am struggling with balancing buying products that are better for the environment with products that contain all the things you need to stay healthy, e.g soya milk has the closest amount of protein to normal milk but I heard it’s still not great for the environment compared to other vegan milks because it needs a lot of water to produce the beans? Any advice on which brands are planet friendly and full of nutrients rather than just low cal?

    Secondly, how do you maintain a good vegan diet on a low budget? Cheap foods like beans, lentils and veggies don’t give you all the nutrients that meat and dairy do, but I don’t want to start living off supplements and protein powder because these are expensive for a poor student! I’ve found that vegan protein bars etc are often more expensive and contain less protein than normal ones, and even vegan quorn chicken is an extra £1 or so than normal quorn. How can I get in all my protein etc without having to spend too much more?

    I haven’t told my family about my new choice yet because I want to show them when I go home for Christmas break that I have stayed healthy while on a vegan diet for a couple of months first, but I don’t think I’m eating enough calories or protein yet on the budget that I have as a student. Any recommendations?

    Also on a side note, how do you know which clothes shops are cruelty free?

    Thank you, sorry this is a long one!
     
  2. Lou
    Happy

    Lou Active Member

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    I guess it depends on your definition of slow. My transition lasted 10 years. Hmm. wait, I think I'm still transitioning. If I had to do it over again I would do it much faster. I think a month is about the right amount of time to transition. There are even some medical/scientific reasons to shoot for a transition time of a month.

    But don't feel you have to be 100% vegan in a month. Or ever.

    If you don't mind the taste of soymilk, then that is probably the best thing for you. I have seen some misleading articles about soy milk. Maybe you have too. I have done some research and although the numbers vary widely from publication to publication. I tried to find the most reliable of them. But I am not super confident in them.

    Cow's milk. 1000 gallons of water to make a gallon of milk.
    Almond Milk. 384 gallons of water to make a gallon of almond milk.
    Soy milk. 300 gallons of water.
    Sources:
    https://research.utwente.nl/en/publ...of-soy-milk-and-soy-burger-and-equivalent-ani
    https://treadingmyownpath.com/2017/04/20/is-almond-milk-bad-for-the-planet/

    Water use is just one part of the equation. Carbon footprint is another. I live in California so my almonds are "locally grown". I guess yours aren't.
    I have recently been influenced by some of the bad press almonds have been getting about honey bees. I already favored soy over almond because of the protein. But if I needed another reason I would go with the bees.

    When buying soymilk make sure you are buying nonGMO, organic soymilk. some soymilks are made from soy flour and not whole beans. Try to get the ones made from whole beans.

    Oh. they do. They are even better for you. When you have a few extra minutes see if you can learn about CronOmeter. The app costs money but the website is free. If you are interested I can share some more about CronOmeter but I can meet all my nutritional requirements with grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit. The amount (weight and volume) I have to eat is high but the calories are low and the cost is low too.

    The key to eating a low-cost vegan diet is to make processed foods a small part of your diet. If you have something equivalent to a "Dollar Store" shop all your canned foods there. Otherwise, you will have to just buy them on sale. Sometimes you can get even better deals if you buy a high number, as long as you have room for them in your cupboard. Of the canned veggies, peas are the most nutritious. But the others are just fine, too. I cook up my own beans, but if you can find some cheap prices on canned beans, buy them!

    If you have a bulk food aisle in your grocery store, get to know it. You can usually find low prices there. And you get to buy just the amount you need. No need to buy a 50-pound bag of rice to get the best price. At the bulk food aisle, you can buy just the amount you need for the week. I buy black beans, lentils, rice, and oatmeal in bulk. I have some containers that hold about a pound of each. You can also get seeds, nuts, and pasta in bulk.

    There are a bunch of good articles on the internet for eating vegan on a budget. Here are just a few.
    https://www.peta.org/living/food/eating-budget/
    https://www.peta.org/living/food/vegan-recipes-dont-starve-until-payday/
    https://nutriciously.com/how-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget/
    https://www.forksoverknives.com/my-...t-based-diet-on-an-austere-budget/#gs.=eLyG6Q

    There is also one of my favorite YouTube Vegans.
    Cheap Lazy Vegan
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEjkioV3LO_OIUaSWRxFZ3A

    You can also save some money by making more of your own stuff. You can make your own protein bars, protein power drinks, trail mix, granola, etc. Usually for a fraction of the cost and much healthier.

    I'm going to recommend CronOmeter, again. One thing cool about CronOmeter is that if you plug in your day's meals and they come up short in an area, you can play with it and add and subtract foods till you get it right. If you "single click" any ingredient it displays its nutrition.
    At the end of the week, it can print out a one-page summary. You can take that home with you on Christmas break.

    The phrase "Cruelty-Free" usually refers to animal testing. Like on cosmetics or household products. They don't contain animal products - but they are tested on animals. Some products have little cruelty-free stickers right on them. And many organizations keep cruelty-free databases. and most of those have apps. Check out Leaping Bunny, Cruelty-free Kitty, and Bunny Free. This stuff is sometimes hard to navigate and tricky. But usually, after a little while, you can settle on some good products and just stick with them.

    Amazon has a vegan marketplace.

    Clothing can be vegan if it does not contain any animal products. Like silk, wool, or leather.
    Many vegans (like me) are also concerned about apparel being ethical. I still don't buy Nike because they were cited for using child labor. And I don't buy Hershey's or Nestles' chocolates because they still use child labor in the processing.
    But vegan and ethical clothes can be hard to find and expensive. it doesn't hurt to start learning about it now.
    Here is a good place to start.
    https://www.peta.org/living/personal-care-fashion/shop-vegan-clothing-compassionate-shopping-guide/

    Northface and Patagonia are pretty ethical companies, too.
     
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  3. Rosie W

    Rosie W New Member

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    Thank you so much this is all very helpful! I will have to look into the British versions of good supermarkets and brands but it is reassuring to know that proper veggies are still the way forward. I would rather be eating whole foods than processed anyway so it sounds like I can keep doing what I’m doing and perfect it with a bit more research starting with your links. Also helpful to know a few ethical brands, thank you!
     
  4. Emma JC
    Joyful

    Emma JC Active Member

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    welcome Rosie, and all the best with your journey

    Well done, Lou, great answer.

    Potatoes and sweet potatoes are another inexpensive amazing source of vitamins and minerals , some protein and are filling and tasty. You can also cook a large amount at once and refrigerate to use for the next few days. An amazing cheezy sauce can be made from onions, bell pepper, garlic, nutritional yeast, potato etc. Just google 'vegan cheese sauce' there are lots of great recipes out there and it is so tasty on potatoes or pasta or veggies like broccoli and cauliflower. It can also be stored in the fridge for a few days.

    I believe it is a lot less expensive to eat a whole food plant based lifestyle and it is delicious!!

    As, Lou says, it can be a journey to be vegan and so don't stress yourself by being perfect... it is "to the best of our ability" and that is different for everyone. The key is to be joyful and enjoy the changes!

    Emma JC
     
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  5. Forest Nymph
    Procrastinating

    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    I found out on my recent trip that a way to get some affordable calories is to eat granola with nuts and dried fruit, then add some soy protein powder to your milk. One of the best things I ate out of my pack was literally powdered coconut milk and vegan protein powder over granola with nuts and dried fruit with hot water. I want to actually go to the store and calculate if it's cheaper in the long term to get powdered coconut milk rather than buying Tetrapaks, just for things like cereal or recipes. I do think you get more servings per package, and you could order it online if you don't have a health foods store or co-op near you.

    As always, I will share two of my favorite cheap vegan recipes:

    1) Make a roux of a little oil and flour in a pan over medium heat, stirring with a fork constantly until it starts to brown. Add one cup of non-dairy/vegan milk (unsweetened, no flavors!) and stir. When this is adequately stirred and seems to thicken, add 1/2 to 1 cup of nutritional yeast (depending on how much you like nutritional yeast, a great source of flavor and nutrients) and stir until that thickens. Then add spices of your choice. I like garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a bit of smoked paprika. Then I just serve it over pasta. You can leave out the paprika and add veggies like frozen broccoli, dried mushrooms or some fresh spinach instead.

    2) Boil a ramen cake. I like to buy plain rice ramen but you can also use cheap, mainstream ramen as well just without the spice packet. Drain most of the hot water except for a couple of spoonfuls. Stir in a tablespoon or two of peanut butter, a generous splash of soy sauce, the juice of half a lime (or the equivalent instead in packaged lime juice), and Sriracha. If you're not a fan of Sriracha you can use something like Tapatio or your favorite hot sauce.
     
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  6. Lou
    Happy

    Lou Active Member

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  7. Forest Nymph
    Procrastinating

    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    Speaking of the beans and rice @Lou mentioned, since you're at uni @Rosie W is there some sort of food pantry or food bank at your school? Or in your town? As a student you're completely qualified to benefit from one of these sorts of places, where they might give you beans, rice, oatmeal, canned soups, canned veg and/or canned fruit...my school does all of this, as well as dried pasta and granola bars for snacks. In the harvest season there's also something called farm stand once per week where we get 3 local vegetables. Just the 3 - like literally, 3 tomatoes. Or a tomato, a head of cabbage, and a bunch of kale. But that helps! There's a limit on how much we can take (the grocery order I listed only feeds you for about 3 days and we can only have it once a week, and then we're allowed 2 granola bars and coffee or tea per day) but I've talked to people who went to other universities where they had much broader selections and less restrictions on how much they could take (ironically, schools in richer neighborhoods but I guess they're thinking of the transfer students?). If you go to a city-wide food bank, you might only be allowed to go once per month, but those places can have fresh bread, fresh vegetables and fruit, peanut butter, even little luxuries like soy milk and desserts. In Los Angeles, one place even had vegan sandwich slices like Tofurky if you can believe that!

    Just putting that out there, if you feel you're really struggling to get food, students are one of the populations that those places exist to feed. If you feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed about it, just remember that when you have more money in your pocket, you can be the one donating the food someday. You can definitely get your staples this way then buy pricier items yourself, especially if you have a school food pantry, it's meant to be supplemental.
     
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  8. veganDreama

    veganDreama Active Member

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    Hello and welcome!

    Lou is right about beans, lentils, tofu and vegetables being cheap and nutritious. In fact they are more nutritious then fake meat or processed vegan food. Although they are ok in moderation. Just not necessary if you can't really afford them.
     
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  9. TofuRobot
    Cold

    TofuRobot Active Member

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    Hi there!

    First of all, you don't need as much protein as you society and the media would have you believe - that is a myth. Furthermore, I believe most vegans get more protein than their omnivorous counterparts - also contrary to popular belief. Summary - stop worrying about protein. ;)

    Secondly - years ago when I ate total [email protected], I cannot tell you how long I lived on instant ramen - literally NO nutritional content whatsoever, LOL, and I was still pretty healthy, so if you're talking about eating rice, beans, & veggies, you're doing pretty darned well - especially if you add potatoes, and fruit to the mix. Did you hear about the guy that ate nothing but potatoes and only potatoes for an entire year? His health actually improved drastically from where he started.

    A few ideas though...
    • Do you have a freezer? Because you can cook a lot of stuff and pack it into containers and pop portion-sized mini-meals into the freezer. Even cooked potatoes freeze well and don't take very long to reheat. Cooked rice also freezes well.
    • Do you parents have a costco membership? Maybe they can get you a card so you can stock up on some stuff you can cook and freeze for later. One of the things I always get at Costco is a bag of frozen mangos to snack on. I also freeze chunks of bananas for snacking when I want something sweet. Costco is also a great place to buy nuts and seeds (keep those in the fridge or freezer so they'll last longer).
    • Certain things last a really long time - cabbage, for instance. I just learned that, and I'm 53. ;) Red cabbage is super nutritious.
    • Do you have a toaster or toaster oven? I often toast corn tortillas in my toaster oven and put refried beans, avocados, and salsa (black or pinto) on them for mini-tostadas.
    • I have fed my kid so much pasta and tomato sauce with broccoli when on a budget - he's doing pretty well despite the occasional lack of variety.
    • Canned beans may not be ideal nutritionally-speaking (because of the sodium content), but they're super handy to have around and not too expensive. It's also not a bad idea to have a stock of canned food for emergency purposes.
    • Lastly - a rice cooker makes cooking rice SOOO convenient, and they can be found for really cheap. Shop at thrift shops for used kitchen appliances. I bought a waffle iron and a toaster oven that have both lasted me years (the waffle iron is great for "no-queso-dillas" - my son does this all the time with tortillas and refried beans. He adds vegan cheese, but you can leave that out if it's too expensive).

    Honestly, I think you could live quite decently on rice, beans, potatoes, broccoli, and fruit for a long time.

    I also supplement with B12, but I get it from my toothpaste (I hate taking pills). (Another bonus tip: You don't need much toothpaste - just the tiniest dab will do. Same goes for laundry soap. NEVER fill up the lid the way they say on the container. Seriously - about 1/10th the amount they say will do just fine.)

    Also don't forget about thrift shops and eBay for clothing and shoes. Almost everything I buy to wear is second hand (when I'm not making it myself), and I steer clear of leather, wool, silk, etc (though I do have a lot still in my closet that I have yet to purge - I'm conflicted about that stuff, to be honest).

    One thing I have found when I switched to 99% whole plant foods and no oil is that I can eat literally ALL the time and not gain weight - and I feel *amazing.* Congrats to you for transitioning, however long it takes! For me it was overnight. Zero regrets, endless rewards :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
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  10. Kerrshay

    Kerrshay New Member

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    Your transition will not happen all at once. Hence the reason why it is regarded as a "transition", it consistently takes place over a period of time. Don't beat yourself up too much, you are already doing well.
     

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