Try Guy: Is going vegan expensive?
We’ve all watched documentaries which made us question our meat and dairy intake. But going vegan is scary, riddled with constraints, the biggest being money.
If you’ve tried to substitute cow milk with almond milk, you know your grocery expenditure can go up (almost triple!) All those fancy (read: expensive) gourmet stores with stocks of tofu and tempeh, and Instagram ads of mock meat kebabs certainly don’t help its image. But is it really bankruptcy-inducing?
A question of cash
The answer to the question is yes and no. Many people in the West face financial challenges when it comes to an all-vegan diet as fresh produce isn’t the norm; processed foods has been the easier and cheaper alternative. But, this has never been the case in India where we come face-to-face with an affordable sabziwalla every 200 metres or so. In fact, Chennai features in the top five ‘most vegan-friendly cities in the world’.
India already has a culture of vegetarianism which makes the journey towards veganism easier. But cutting out ghee, paneer and milk can be a Herculean task when you realise how easily ingredients like milk solids sneak up on you. But the base items are the same as anyone else’s: Carbs (bread, rice, roti, tortillas), proteins (legumes, tofu, hummus, tahini, dry fruit), vegetable oil and coffee/tea.
More and less
“When you’re eliminating meat and eggs from your diet, you do have to eat a little bit more to give your body what it needs. But this doesn’t mean more expenditure. You just have to increase quantities of dal, veggies and the like,” Arjun Shankar, a Delhi-based vegan, tells us.
This isn’t heavy on the pocket. When he goes out to eat at the same restaurants, his share of the bill is lower: Rs700-900, not Rs1000-1,500!
The most expensive vegan item is vegan cheese which can cost `400-700 per 100 grams. You can opt for a home-made version (with cashews) and get your fix. The same can be done for plant-based milk.
If you’re switching from a non-vegetarian diet, you won’t even feel the financial pinch. There are also many lndian brands now producing mock meats, which come at affordable prices.
PS: Don’t go cold turkey. Dedicate a few days a week to vegan meals and transition slowly.
Try Guy is an occasional column where we put a reader through an experience, and ask them to write about it.
Navni Kumar is a freelance lifestyle journalist who has been an on-and-off vegan for six months.
From HT Brunch, January 9, 2022
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