The True Cost of Going Plant-Based
I am just four weeks into transitioning to a fully plant-based diet and I feel great. I know, I’m late to the party. People have been eating this way for years. So far I am feeling great. I’ve noticed that my blood pressure is going down. I am 6 feet tall and I have struggled with weight issues since before my teen years.
Because of my height I have often been able to hide my “unhealth” in plain sight. Just after three going on four weeks, the scale is moving in the right direction, down. I guess I made it official yesterday when I decided it was time to clear out my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry of non-plant-based and dairy products. Oh the drama of it all.
I am learning that transitioning to a plant-based way of eating can be expensive. It is not just the cost of the new foods for the new lifestyle, it is also the eye-popping cost of all of the things you need to throw out. Unless you ate your way through everything in your house before changing your diet you probably will have a ton of things to toss.
Why did I have three partially consumed cartons of eggs each with different and expired best used by dates? I had cheeses, half and half, mayo, butter, creamy salad dressings, sour cream. Last fall when I fully embraced my love of strong and rich iced coffee, prepared with a generous infusion of Coffee Mate’s Dove dark chocolate creamer, I purchased multiple bottles of it to stock up just in case it was a seasonal item that would go away after Christmas and leave me dry around the mouth and scratching like an addict. When I say multiple bottles, I mean way multiple. That really hurt at about $4.00 per. I tossed yogurt, my tuna? Oooh! my tuna, salmon, frozen Wegman’s Margherita pizza, fish sticks – yes, I said fish sticks. You get the idea.
Sure fruits and vegetables are generally thought of as inexpensive, but when they become the basis for all that you are eating, you have to buy so much of them - enough to get you through a couple of days before they start to spoil or become overripe.
When you step into this new world you will want to spend hours reading and watching videos by experts like Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Dean and Anne Ornish, and listening to The Physicians Committee podcasts, featuring Dr. Neal Bernard. These long-respected nutritionists offer the science that support the claims of improved health outcomes. You will start to look for cookbooks and watch YouTube videos of successful plant-based gurus who walk the talk and, who cook dishes that you might like, using healthier options, like Sweet Potato Soul (watch her video to lean how to start a plant-based diet) and Rainbow Plan Life (watch her video to learn to make a rich red lentil curry). They both make plant-based dishes that look amazing and are incredibly tasty and satisfying.
In order for any of those beautiful cookbook and Youtube dishes to taste like anything worth giving up dairy for you will need to stock your kitchen well and purchase spices and herbs and bouillon, and more. Did you know that smoked paprika tastes so much richer and fuller than the paprika that your grandmother used to sprinkle over your favorite potato salad and macaroni and cheese?
Then the coriander seeds, whole fennel seeds, cumin, nutritional yeast, turmeric, garam masala, curry powder, cardamom, flax meal, chia seeds, fresh basil, sage, and bay leaves, grains and legumes like farro, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, edemame, beans and more beans, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, fresh ginger, garlic, onions, spinach, baby kale, dinosaur kale, cilantro, parsley, frozen fruits for smoothies, coconut milk, and the list goes on and on. I suspect that once I get my kitchen fully converted and stocked I can start paying back the loans I’ve had to take out to pay for all of this. Just kidding, not kidding - kidding.
The cost to my wallet is a bit, but the benefits to my health and wellness that I am already experiencing and seeing are well worth the expense so far. Here’s to life! Happy Cooking. Happy Eating.