The Frugal Vegan

No question, natural food stores have the best selection of ready-made vegan foods. But although packaged foods make being vegan easy and convenient, they can also add to the cost. That is why our cookbook, All American Vegan, gives you options. Every recipe in our cookbook can be made from scratch, which will save you money but not necessarily time, while our website offers brand-name ready-made ingredients and products for each recipe which can save you time, but not necessarily money. We would like to see this trade-off disappear, and we think the best way to do this is to increase the demand for vegan products.

There is nothing inherently different about the production of vegan products that should result in them being more expensive.* Indeed, quite the opposite is actually true. With entirely plant-based ingredients that require far fewer resources and “labor” to produce than animal based “foods,” ready-made vegan foods should, by logic, be far cheaper. Yet because the demand for these products is lower, with less than 10% of Americans shopping at natural food stores on a regular basis, they are generally more expensive than their animal-based counterparts. The sheer volume of food produced by companies such as Nabisco, Kelloggs, and Archer Daniels Midland is the reason the foods they produce are comparatively so cheap. This has to change.

Our website offers various guides to help make a more vegan-friendly America, including “How to Feed a Vegan and Why Your Grocery Store Should.” Designed to encourage traditional grocery stores to stock more vegan staples and ready-made products, this guide is free and available for download and distribution in your hometown.

With increased demand comes increased production, not just by natural food companies, but, eventually, by the nation’s largest food producers as well. More ready-made vegan foods on the shelves of traditional grocery stores will bring their cost down. In addition, more ready-made vegan foods in traditional grocery stores will place pressure on the nation’s largest food companies to begin producing more vegan foods in order to compete. This will also lower the cost of such foods, and, just as important, will teach our fellow Americans that there are delicious vegan alternatives to the foods they are already eating. Such exposure will force them to consider what they are now rarely made to—that eating animals is a choice. And the sooner they realize this and weigh the devastation to animals, their health and the planet that results from an animal-based diet, the sooner they will realize that eating animals is no choice at all.

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* Many ready-made vegan products are also organic, and this, of course, does increase their cost. However, organic does not mean vegan. Many vegan foods being produced right now are being made by natural food companies that also make them organic in order to appeal to their perceived market niche: people who want to eat healthier. It is the “organic” nature of such foods that is in part to blame for their cost, not the fact that they are vegan. In addition, companies that produce such foods also believe that these foods are for a niche market dominated by people with higher income levels who are willing and able to pay more for these products. This may or may not be true; but if it is true that people with higher income levels tend to buy these foods it  may be true because they are more expensive and only wealthier people can purchase them, a self-fulfilling prophecy. At any rate, the bottom line is that they don’t necessarily have to and should not cost as much as they do.

Helpful Links:

Is it vegan? Here is a list of animal-derived ingredients

Is your local grocery store not vegan-friendly? Give them this handy guide

Heading out to Trader Joe’s? Here’s their guide to vegan food products

Don’t want Whole Foods to become “Whole Paycheck”? Buy their private label/365 brands

Looking to save more by cooking at home? Get the cookbook with the 5-star review

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