Mo money, less dairy: my first two months of veganism

Graphic by Isa Thompson

Graphic by Isa Thompson

Rema Haile

As I dip my spoon into a hot bowl of the creamiest vegan chickpea masala I’ve ever made and burn my mouth because I can’t help digging in, I smile, unable to stop myself from admiring the journey I’ve taken to get to this delicious meal. I’ve been vegan for almost two months now, and it’s changed my life.

It started during winter break when I only had vegan food options at home because my Eritrean family is Orthodox Christian and fasting season had come. The dishes I ate were staples that I grew up with, so I was unaware of the change in my diet. I had been unconsciously vegan from the beginning up until the end of winter break when I had gotten pizza (a very bad idea) while hanging out with friends. Soon after my stomach did, I realized that I hadn’t consumed any animal products for the last two weeks. It blew my mind that I had made a big step for our environment, animals, and my health without even noticing, because that meant the preconceived notions I and the rest of the world shared about veganism are completely inaccurate. 

Though I considered being vegan several times after making the transition to vegetarianism, I had yet to do so, scared of the high cost, starvation, and lower quality of food that many claimed came with this lifestyle. What I discovered after the pizza incident was that the justifications I used to stall veganism were similar to the ones I used to stall vegetarianism, so I decided to continue my journey as a vegan and test these notions.

Almost two months later and the results are in: my spending has decreased by $600 a month, I eat three meals a day versus the one I’d have for dinner when I was a vegetarian, and I’ve learned that vegan recipes are out-of-this-world delicious. 

Before I went vegan I was vegetarian for four years. While being vegetarian did save me money, I still had many options to dine out or buy snacks from either Wawa, CVS, or the Whole Foods. This led to me spending enormous amounts of money on food every day, with a total of at least $150 being spent a week.

When I continued my vegan journey I noticed how much effort was put into finding snacks at Wawa, CVS, and Whole Foods, which was not worth the price nor the time wasted. I decided that it would be easier to just buy ingredients and snacks while grocery shopping with my parents and meal prep. This fed two birds with one vegan scone: it stopped me from spending money because I had just hauled a backpack full of Tupperware to school and there’s no way I did that for me to not eat what’s inside of it, forcing me to stay on top of my meals. Not to mention my meals became something I looked forward to because they were absolutely delicious and filled with flavorful ingredients. 

I hadn’t even cut an onion before going vegan, let alone cooked a full vegan-friendly meal, and was able to recreate these incredible recipes I found online because they had such easy instructions. Yes, vegetables became my best friend—in dishes like cauliflower buffalo wings, mushroom quinoa burgers, and BBQ chickpeas it’s hard to turn down such a delectable buddy. All in all, I figured out veganism requires a shift in lifestyle, but it isn’t the rocket science people make it out to be. The only thing holding one back from going vegan is their mindset. Come join the dark side and help save the planet, one meal at a time. •