This month’s issue of Vegetarian Times (June 2011) has a “Veg Bootcamp” challenge for those of you “teetering on the edge of veg or looking to fine-tune your daily eating habits.” The bootcamp challenge is for 28 days– less than a month of challenging the way you think about food, busting myths about the veg lifestyle and DELICIOUS food! I encourage you to try it. If you can’t do 28 days, try a week.
Another myth that VT mentions (that I left off in my previous post) is that a vegetarian diet will break the bank. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Of course, if you’re loading up your grocery cart with items like vegan cheese and faux meat products, then yes, it will be expensive. Pre-packaged, frozen meals and processed veg foods are going to cost a lot more than their carcass counterparts. 😉 But if you’re loading up on whole grains, fresh produce, and dried beans, you’re going to see your grocery bill decrease. These foods cost 3-5 times less than meat, according to meatlessmondays.com. Farmer’s markets and bulk bins provide extremely good savings!
Plus, you have to consider the true cost of what you’re eating and the long-term effects “cheap” foods have on your body. What does that $1 cheeseburger really cost you and what price is the Earth paying? According to VT, “Americans spend more than $147 billion per year to combat obeisity-related illness.” Joel Fuhrman, MD, who wrote Eat to Live points out that “Instead of buying good-quality, healthful food, we eat ourselves into chronic diseases that cost a fortune to control with drugs.”
You also can’t assume that your local “big box store” has the cheapest prices. I find all sorts of awesome deals at Whole Foods, yet I can’t count how many people tell me they can’t afford to shop there. A 1 lb bag of organic carrots is $1.99 at Publix. A 2 lb bag is $1.69 at Whole Foods! A carton of organic vegetable broth is nearly $3 at Wal-Mart. It’s $1.99 at Whole Foods. Bulk bins are an amazing thing too. I bought just the 2 cups of fresh, organic baby spinach that I needed for .83 cents this weekend. If I had bought the pre-packaged bag, I would have paid $3+ and probably most of it would have gone bad. I also got 1/2 cup kalamata olives from the olive bar for less than $2 when a jar would have cost me $6-7.
If you’re shopping smart and paying attention to good deals, there’s no way a veg diet costs more.
And don’t worry, you’re not going to be eating a side of beans with some steamed broccoli every night. You’ll be amazed what you can do with beans, grains and produce. People always wonder what a vegan eats. We eat burritos, tacos, lasagna, spaghetti, meatloaf, paninis, soups/stews/chilis, burgers, stir fry, pizza… we eat nearly everything an omnivore eats, but veg style!
So here’s the VT challenge, and my challenge to you: eliminate meat from your diet for 28 days and watch your grocery bill, risk for disease, and your pants size drop! Can’t fathom 28 days without meat? Try a week. If you’re not dead after a week, try another week! VT gives 7 examples each of breakfast, lunch, and dinners that are 400 calories and snacks that are 200 in this month’s issue. Mix and match menus and add as many snacks as you like for your desired caloric intake. You can get loads more menus than the print issue and join the challenge at vegetariantimes.com/vegbootcamp.
To help you out, I’m going to post a recipe every day this week. Try them and let me know what you think!