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Q:I want to go vegan very badly, but we live on a VERY tight budget. I also can't have soy, any hope?
A: You can live well on beans, rice, fruits and vegetables. Dry beans/lentils are $2 or less for 1 bag, which will feed you for the week. Rice is also very inexpensive, especially if you buy in bulk. At my supermarket, you can get 10 bags of frozen vegetables for $10, and you can squeeze three meals out of each bag. Go to an Indian or Asian supermarket and your buck will go even further.
For inspiration, read our interview with a homeless vegan.
Buy in bulk. Stick to staples. Shop around for deals and get food stamps or help from a Food Bank if you need it. You can eat healthy, and vegan/plant-based on any budget. I also have a “budget” icon in Everyday Happy Herbivore that signifies meals costing less than $5 to make.
Q: I have been predominantly vegetarian due to my ethical standpoint but sometimes find myself straying. I've eaten meat products in the last week. I feel I lack the dietary range to stay interested.
A: I eat a much wider variety on a plant-based diet than I ever did as an omnivore. Eating vegan has turned me on to so many different foods and cuisine's I didn't know I was missing. My advice is to get some vegan cookbooks, find some recipes online or try our meal plans and see just how much is really out there. A vegan diet is not limited and more often than not, it'll turn you into a total foodie... a vegan foodie.
Q: What brand of [food i.e. tortillas, salsa] do you use/recommend?
A: The only food I'm brand specific about is nutritional yeast. I'll only use Braggs or Red Star, even if it means having to order it online. Otherwise I buy whatever brand is available to me at my local store that meets my requirements. Unfortunately, most brands vary by region and aren’t available nationwide. For example, the whole-wheat bread I bought in California wasn't available in New York or Colorado. Similarly, my best friend found an awesome peanut butter in DC that I couldn't find anywhere in New York -- just 4 hours away, and my mom couldn't find it in South Carolina either. You have to read labels and look (that’s what I do!). Go to all the different stores in your area to check out their different brands. If you can't find what you need locally, try online. When I live in rural areas or small towns, I make good use of Amazon prime.
Q: When using a cheese substitute, do you opt out of versions with casein or whey, or if that’s all you have access to, do you use it?
A: Let me first say that I'm highly annoyed some soy cheeses contain casein or whey. I don't see the point of going to all the trouble to make a soy, rice or almond-based “cheese” only to add dairy to it. Stupid. I don't eat any foods that contain animal products, including casein and whey (esp. casein since it’s one of the biggest known carcinogens on the planet!). If it’s not vegan, I'm not eating it. My health trumps any price tag or convenience. I’m always plant-based, always. I also spent a year and a half living in remote areas where I had no access to vegan substitutes and I did just fine :)
Q: Does the tofu quiche freeze well?
A: I've never tried it; I don't think so -- tofu changes texture and shape when it's frozen, so the quiche would not have a quiche texture after freezing. it keeps well in the fridge, however. See this post of freezing tofu for more information.