As an interlude to my new series regarding my European excursion, I have decided to start a new series, one which I hope will be very helpful to many. I call it: Eating vegan on a budget. The affordability and cheapness of vegan and vegetarian diets is more often than not praised among other reasons as to why one should go veg. I however, disagree. An average, healthy vegan diet may be cheaper than one including copious amounts of caviar, fancy cheeses, and high quality fish and steak for dinner every night. However, last time I checked, these weren’t the foods that made up the average carnivores diet, more like the diet of an unethical millionaire. To be more fair with the “vegan diets are just so affordable” argument, I think we need to compare it to the average American non-vegan diet. A day consisting of commercially produced sugary cereal with cows milk and oj from a frozen concentrate for breakfast, a pb&j sandwich made with reduced fat Skippy peanut butter and smuckers jelly with pretzels, a clementine, and a chocolate milk for lunch, and chicken stir-fry with white rice for dinner, unfortunately costs very little. My point being, to be “fed” on junk food may be the only way some people find it possible to pay their bills. Even the thought of purchasing five times the past amount of vegetables and fruit, along with a whole new world of beans, tofu, and temphe could cause fear that that much needed winter coat may have to wait. I know from experience that simply switching over to a vegetarian diet is costly, stocking the pantry does not come cheap with all kinds of new beans, grains, veggies and fruits, oh and don’t forget the greens that need purchasing. Now, I must intervene and clarify that a big reason I decided to go veg was the abundance of health benefits this lifestyle has to offer, therefore there was no way one could catch me eating meat-free pizza and potato chips for dinner, no-sir-y. Yes, that would fit into the category of vegetarian, however healthful and nourishing, no way Jose! My point is, to be able to be as healthy as you can be, a bit more than a green pepper and a bag of carrots are going to have to make up your weeks vegetable allotment, and big bags of brown rice and black beans, believe it or not, tend to cost more than the frozen chicken breasts and wonder bread many call their grain and protein. I realize that in many developing countries, those types of processed foods are simply not available and the poor do thrive off beans and whole grains, but at the moment, my argument is in regards to the U.S. Anyway, my aim of this new series is to offer tips of how to thrive off a vegan diet while not spending tons and tons on food. It may seem hard at points when there are row after row of health food brands of cereals, crackers, super-foods, nut milks, bars, ect. that all seem to come in eye pleasing packaging, not to mention, a hefty price tag, and the up-rise of veg restaurants makes it easier and more fun to eat out, but I assure you, non of these are necessary to eat vegan on a budget, and still be happy and healthy!
To start things out, I will provide you with instructions to make your very own sunflower seed milk. I started making my own almond milk after wishing to reduce even further the amount of processed foods I consume. However, the price tag of all the almonds I was using for my daily usage of non-dairy milk was not very wallet pleasing. Luckily, a light bulb went of in my head and I thought, hey, why don’t I try and make a milk from one of the cheapest ‘nuts’, well seeds, around, the sunflower seed. So I tried my idea out, and ended up being happily surprised with my results.
This seed milk definitely had a strong hint of sunflower seeds, but give it a few tries if you don’t enjoy it at first, the taste really grows on you. And if you are one to simply use non-dairy milks in baking and cooking, you won’t even notice the difference! Another warning, this milk separates a lot after sitting, a not very appealing look I might add. Just shake up your jar though, and ta-da! your sunflower seed milk is ready to drink again! Enjoy!
Sunflower Seed Milk:
-1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked
-4 cups water (plus more for soaking seeds)
-soak seeds in water over night
-add soaked seeds and 4 cups water to a high-speed blender
-blend for about a minute until completely smooth
-drain mixture in a nut milk bag over a large bowl to collect milk
-store milk in a large, sealed glass jar and refrigerate
*will last about a week in the fridge
*a high-speed blender works best with this recipe
*if desired, add flavorings such as vanilla, cinnamon, or dates