Monday, November 29, 2010

Healthy Vegan on a Budget

When people are giving excuses for why they choose not to eat a healthy, plant-based diet, often the issue of money comes up first. I’m the first to admit that I can easily blow $500 on food in a flash, but with a little thought and planning, it doesn’t have to be this way.

I could harp on about how the Government subsidizes the meat industry but let me simply point out some facts about how we do spend money…

The average Australian household spends more on fast food than fruit and vegetables and five times more on recreation than healthy foods. As a result of our poor eating habits, we then spend nearly twice as much on medical expenses as we do on fruit and vegetables. It’s not as though we can’t afford to eat or feed our children- Australia is the only country in the world where childhood obesity is increasing faster than that of adults.

However, none of this changes the fact that it’s cheaper to feed the family at Maccas than to cook an organic nutritious meal. So, the Vegan Era Crew have been looking at ways to make it easier and cheaper to live a healthy, vegan lifestyle.

First of all, sit down and decide how much money you have to spend and go through how you spend it now. What are you splurging on? What do you really need?

Decide on what you will and won’t compromise on. There’s no point deciding to stop buying all of your favourite things because you won’t stick to it!

For example:
I will only buy organic greens and fruit
I will not compromise on choosing organic and GMO free soy products

Organic produce is notoriously more expensive. Depending on what you are comfortable with, you can choose organic for some things and not others. To help you decide, consider the following:

Most supermarkets now offer an affordable range of organic canned goods that are handy to keep in the pantry, such as tomatoes, chick peas, etc.

The Dirty Dozen
The following fruits and vegetables are known as 'the dirty dozen' because they are contaminated with the most amount of pesticides. Therefore, it's best to choose organic wherever possible.
1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Sweet bell peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes
11. Carrots
12. Pears

The following items are considered the 'cleanest' fruit and vegetables, so you could consider buying these non-organic.
1. Onions
2. Avocados
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapples
5. Mangoes
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papayas
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomatoes
15. Sweet potatoes

Whether you purchase organic or not, it is important to wash all of your fruit and vegetables. You do not need to purchase a specialty wash, which will often add to the chemical load of your produce and cost you money. Simple household ingredients such as vinegar or salt will remove many of the pesticides and bacteria. 

Rinse your produce first in cold water and then prepare a mix of approximately 1 teaspoon of sea salt to 1 cup of water.  Soak the produce for a couple of minutes and then rinse thoroughly with water.  Dry off the fruit and vegetables before putting them away to ensure freshness or wash them as you go, just before using.  

Just because you love strawberries all year round doesn’t mean you should eat them all year round! When you buy fruits and veggies when they are in season you will find them in abundance, at a reasonable price, and it is much healthier for you. Eating in tune with nature will provide the most nourishment for your body.

There are many benefits to shopping at your local markets. As you are often buying directly from the farmer or producer then it is often cheaper than the store. It is also often better for the environment as the produce usually hasn’t traveled as far. As you can chat to the stall holders and compare prices you can usually get great deals and great advice.

Check out local wholesalers near you that sell direct to the public. They sell bulk products at a reduced price and you can find all sorts of things. Products such as nuts, canned goods, olives, legumes, olive oil, pasta, flour and spices are all things that you can save money on. For example, you can usually pick up a 1 litre can of cold-pressed olive oil for around $20 and then keep it in your pantry and refill your olive oil bottle as necessary. Wholesalers often specialize in certain cuisine, such as Indian, Greek, etc which have lovely surprises that you can’t find in your supermarket, and often at a fraction of the cost.

It is very easy to spend a fortune in health food stores.  Make sure you know what you want before you go in there.  For example, you may choose to splurge on raw sprouted rye bread each week, which can cost close to $10 but it is much healthier than a regular loaf of bread and is so dense that you will only need a small amount.  It also lasts a long time in the fridge, rather than going stale in a day or two.  

We have certainly become a society that demands quick, easy and convenient. If you do have the time though, there are many things that you can make yourself at home. Simple things that take only 5 minutes or so include your own hummus. All you need is a can of chickpeas, some tahini, garlic and lemon juice and a food processor. Other dips you can make easily and cheaply include guacamole, pesto, olive tapenade, salad dressings, tomato salsa, almond butter etc. It is much cheaper than constantly buying dips and spreads and much healthier for you too as they are fresh and contain no preservatives. If you have more time then making your own breads, crackers, almond milk, etc are also more economical and much healthier.

Even if it is simply having a pot or 2 of herbs on your balcony, this will save you money. Herbs are hearty so they often only need watering a couple of times a week and some sunshine and there is nothing better than the taste and aroma of fresh herbs in your food. The addition of fresh herbs can often mean that you don’t need additional flavour from unhealthy alternatives such as excess salt.

Do some research in your local area for co-ops and local food delivery options.  It saves you time and often saves you money.  

If you sit down at the start of the week and make a rough plan of the meals you'd like to have for the week, you can ensure that you only buy what you need. 

Specialty dog food and other pet food can get expensive.  However, if you purchase a bag of vegan doggie biscuits and some treats, you can then make up some rice and canned vegetables to serve with it.  This way your dog biscuits will go much further, and your animal friend gets a nutritious, yummy meal!

It is a great exercise to try to make your pantry go the distance before going out shopping again.  Whether you make a decision not to purchase anything else for the next week or simply make a conscious decision to stretch everything a little further at each meal, you will be amazed at how far you can go and how much you can save.  Get creative and use up some of those items hidden at the back of the cupboard.  

There are many other ways that you can save money and keep a healthy diet.  Choosing to avoid meat and dairy products is a great start!  If you have any further tips for us, please don't hesitate to comment!  

Be Love: Be Peace: Be Vegan; Save Our Home

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reclaim Your Health Book Review Blog

I don’t know about you, but it seems more and more people in my circles are suffering from so many illnesses. Every second person I talk to also have a loved one with some sort of cancer or diabetes....and you only have to take a tiny peek into our hospitals to realise the huge health problems in our societies. "Reclaim Your Health" is a great mentor guide to not only those who are suffering from cancers, it is a huge wake up call for all of us to SLOW DOWN and start looking after our bodies, and to BE CONSCIOUS of what we feeding those "cells’ that we so desperately need for everyday existence.

I recently had a sobbing seventy-two year old doctor call me for some health information. Her eighty year old husband who was also a doctor had been suffering from prostate cancer and had changed to a plant based diet. Not only were they amazed at the cell recovery rate of excluding the foods mentioned in "Reclaim Your Health," they were also saddened by the advice they had been giving their patients for the past 40 years. They are still practising physicians, and are trying their best to share their first hand experience of a plant based diet to cancer patients, other doctors and the general public.

The wisdom found in "Reclaim Your Health" should be the compulsory medical manual for all cancer patients as well as for general illness prevention! Relax, stop eating meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods as they are toxic fuels that breed disease in your bodies. Give yourself a great big KISS, that's "Keep It Simple Stupid" and eat fresh fruits, legumes and vegetables to keep your "car" running smoothly for the rest of your life. ‘KISS’ yourself by slowing down and enjoying everyday moments, and feel happy and grateful for all that you have.

To me it seems that having cancer can also be a blessing, as the wisdom shared in this book soaks into your heart and soul. I too am now inspired to look after my "amazing house’ known as my body even more, and to be forever grateful to feeling healthy from a plant based diet….oh yes..and to be ‘Loosey Goosey', let go and go with the flow!


"Reclaim your Health should be the compulsory medical manual for all cancer patients"