When it comes to starting a new diet, people are always worried about the cost. Will it cost me more money to eat healthy? Unless you are only buying the rarest fruits and vegetables known to man, you won’t break the bank when you become a vegan or vegetarian. Let’s say that it costs the same as your regular diet, or slightly more. Would you spend a few extra dollars on groceries to ensure a healthier body and future? Would you rather spend a little less on unhealthy groceries and more on hospital expenses later in life? That is the real question when it comes to dietary changes.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of nutrients you are supposed to have is based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet. This model suggests 2 cups of fruit, 2.5 cups of vegetables, and at least 3 ounces of whole grains every day. On average, Americans consume about half or less than half of those servings. Most Americans are focused on getting too much protein and often leave healthy foods by the wayside. The kicker is that animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy can cost a lot more than fresh fruits and vegetables!
Here are some statistics about the Standard American Diet (SAD):
- The SAD has led to increased rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
- Calories consumed have increased, not decreased.
- Complex carbohydrates in plants have been replaced by refined flours and simple sugars.
- Healthy fats in plant-based foods have been replaced with trans fats and oils.
- The percentage that you reduce your risk of heart disease by eliminating eggs, meat, and dairy products from your diet is over 90%.
- Women who eat meat are 4 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who don’t eat meat.
- The average risk of heart attack for American vegetarians is less than 4%.
Is Going Plant-Based Expensive?
If you buy faux meat, produce, or packaged food that traveled half way across the globe to get to your local supermarket, chances are it’ll cost you a pretty penny. Instead, it serves you better to buy produce that is in season. Buying seasonal produce not only means that it will be less expensive, but it also means that it is the freshest produce. For example, peaches are in season during the summer months. If you try to buy them in the winter, they will be much more expensive, as they are not readily available.
Americans are experts at wasting food. One of the best ways to save money and waste less food is to actually eat the food you buy. When you buy fresh produce, you have to learn how to store it so that it can last long. For example, a bunch of kale will last longer if you wrap it in damp paper towels, as opposed to suffocating it in a plastic bag in a drawer in your fridge. Additionally, you may buy a bag of spinach and it starts to wilt before you use it all. Try blending it in your smoothies, sautéing it with veggies, adding it to pasta sauces, or using it as a salad base to ensure that you eat the entire bag.
When you go plant-based, you can also save on the cost of medication, provided you are taking it. We aren’t saying that vegetarians get deals on medication. No, no, no. We are saying that eating a healthy plant-based diet can help get you off medication, which means you won’t need to spend money on it anymore. There are all kinds of ways to save on a plant-based diet, so try it out, or start small by doing meatless Mondays.