Back in September I embarked on a 30-day vegan challenge. I’ve been vegetarian since 2013, and always knew going vegan was something I wanted to attempt. It was an interesting month for sure, and I learned a lot about vegan alternatives for cooking at home, as well as which restaurants in the city were vegan-friendly. Oh, and the Oh She Glows cookbook became my best friend.
I made a few mistakes in the beginning because I’m so used to just making sure dishes didn’t have meat in it, and when traveling I just reverted back to being vegetarian. It was easier than trying to find vegan-friendly restaurants (although I did find a couple excellent ones in Toronto!), or packing food when traveling on business.
On the other hand, I was surprised at how many restaurants accommodated vegans, and got to try a few really great restaurants I had wanted to try for a long time. And I found it quite easy (after a few up-front expenses) to adapt to cooking vegan when at home. I thought it would be hardest to cut out eggs since I used to eat them a lot, but surprisingly it hasn’t been something I’ve craved.
Becoming vegan long-term is something I know I could do. But I’m not quite comfortable with being the person that everyone has to accommodate during social events. It’s especially hard at work events or lunch meetings that are held in restaurants that are not vegan-friendly. So my decision for right now is to stay vegetarian but really lower my dairy intake. I’ll be cooking vegan at home, and will just be vegetarian when going out and traveling. I think this is a good compromise because I don’t go to restaurants much anyway, and when I’m at home I can regulate my food a lot better. :)
Have you ever tried going vegan or vegetarian before?
Most of you know I’m vegetarian. I started off as pescetarian when I came back from Germany in 2013. After a few months, I turned vegetarian – and have been for almost two years now.
It’s been an interesting two years. I still get asked by my good friends if I’m “still not eating meat,” as if it’s a fad I’ll eventually get sick of. :) I’ve been put in more than a couple uncomfortable situations, and I have traveled to places where getting a vegetarian meal can be tricky (I ate a lot of eggs). But overall, it has been such a positive change to my lifestyle that I can’t imagine ever eating meat again.
Taking the next step to vegan has always scared me. That’s why I’ve never done it, or even attempted to try. It’s new territory that I’ve always wanted to explore, I just didn’t (and still don’t) know how to go about doing it. Cooking seems daunting – especially cooking for others. Going out to restaurants and traveling will become harder than it already is. But here’s the thing: I’ve always known that eventually, I would want to make this lifestyle change. And now is the time to test it out.
Maybe this will work, and maybe it won’t. But today marked Day 1 of a 30-day vegan challenge for me. I’ve actually already failed, but that’s okay… I ate a piece of pumpkin loaf that I realized afterwards was clearly made with egg, and then I almost put milk into my coffee this morning.
Over the next month, I anticipate higher than normal grocery bills and a lot of “whoops” moments. It will be tough to change my habits, but that’s what’s fun about these 30-day challenges. :) And with any luck, one month will turn into two months, and a new lifestyle will come from it.
So, if any of you are vegan, I’d love links to your favourite vegan recipes or restaurants!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m fairly frugal when it comes to groceries. Since moving to Vancouver in 2008 my monthly grocery budget has ranged from $100 to $200 each month (maybe even upwards of $250 if I go to Costco). For me, this is a normal amount. I don’t eat a lot, and while I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to food, I don’t mind eating simple meals when at home.
But that being said, I received this comment on my June 2014 Goals Recap a couple of days ago on the blog:
Now, I do know that I likely spend less than most people on groceries each month. However, when it comes to people who are already frugal, as well as personal finance bloggers, I think I’m about average. I don’t know anybody that spends $500-700 as a single person on groceries each month, unless you are counting restaurants as well. But even then, that’s probably pretty high. Groceries and dining out combined, I probably spend around $225-250/month.
SoI went to Twitter and asked people what their average grocery budgets were each month:
Here are just a couple of small ways I save money on food:
- Eat vegetarian. Even when I was eating meat, I ate vegetarian for most meals. By not centering my meal around meat, I significantly cut down my grocery expenses. Instead, I supplement with chickpeas (and hummus), tofu, lentils, quinoa, etc.
- Shop at farm markets. I’m always shocked at how cheap it is to buy produce at farm markets and small Asian grocery stores. I buy a huge bag full of veggies and fruit for about $15 a couple times a week, and buy staple items like quinoa in bulk at Costco.
- Eat simple meals. Not every meal needs to be Pinterest-worthy. :) I splurge on ingredients when I’m cooking a nice meal for BF or for friends, but everyday eating is pretty simple in my house. A typical meal for me would be some roasted (or steamed) veggies, Wasa bread (or Lavish crackers) with hummus, and grilled mushrooms on the BBQ.
- Rarely buy junk food. If you come over, I won’t have ice cream, chips, cookies, or chocolate at my house. :) I do enjoy them, but can’t justify spending money on unhealthy foods on a regular basis. BF doesn’t have them at his house either, so the only time we might indulge is if we go out with friends or if we make a point to walk somewhere to pick up ice cream or macarons.
Related: Inside my grocery bag
It should be noted that I do spend time each week at BF’s house. Sometimes he buys groceries, and I buy dinner. Or vice versa. We loosely split costs 50/50, and I think my expenses all even out over the course of a month.