Apropos my efforts to save money, here I am, dressing Peedee not in specially-made doggy duds, but rather my old baby clothes.
Pokey Little Puppy, that’s me!
While brainstorming possible topics in preparation for VeganMoFo III, one of the first ideas to come to mind was a post about how to live frugally as a vegan. The supposed expense (and, consequently, “elitism”) of a vegan diet and/or lifestyle is an oft-invoked argument against veganism (and even vegetarianism), and is only becoming more common in these tough economic times. Sometimes sincere, oftentimes self-serving – and occasionally even coming from the mouths of vegans – this is one mythconception in need of a good debunking.
Luckily, I was able to come up with so many tips that I quickly decided to make this an ongoing series of posts, rather than a single article. (Indeed, a few penny-pinching vegans have built entire blogs around this topic, as we shall see!) Since this is VeganMoFo, the focus will be on food, but should the series prove popular, perhaps I’ll cover other consumables in the future. Not to mention, it’ll be awfully helpful to have an entire category of posts to which I can refer the naysayers who think that you’ve got to have an annual salary of 75k+ in order to live simply (and let others simply live). (Oh, how I adore that phrase!)
But first, a disclaimer: I speak from a position of privilege. I was born and raised a middle-class suburbanite; my husband has a secure, well-paying job, and though we now live in a rural area (on the outskirts of the “barbecue capital of the world,” natch), where it can sometimes be difficult to find specialty vegan products, we have the means to easily procure most anything we need (or want): car, internet connection, credit card, etc. Much of my advice, then, assumes similar agency in my audience.
That said, not everyone can easily order a case of Teese online and on a whim. Some folks, particularly those living in low-income/urban areas, don’t have ready (or any) access to staples, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain foods, or “meat” and “dairy” products – let alone meat analogs and faux cheeses! A number of factors are at play here: the dearth of grocery stores in low-income/urban areas, coupled with an invasion of fast food joints; broken and fragmented public transportation systems; a shortage of funding for public schools, resulting in cost-cutting in school food programs; and a patriarchical / kyriarchical / megatheocorporatocratic system that benefits the few at the expense of the many – for starters. If animal advocates wish to convince more people to adopt a vegan diet, these are factors we must address (and should be addressed anyhow, if only from a human rights perspective).
This is a topic I’ll be returning to later in the series, in a post about frugal vegan activism. (And if you’ve been following this blog for a month or two, no doubt you’ve seen action alerts about vegan school lunch options and the like.) In the meantime, check out Morgan Spurlock’s Don’t Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America. (That’s not to say that this is the most comprehensive book on the subject, just one of the first that I’ve read to come to mind. Feel free to leave your recommendation(s) in the comments! Additional resources re: the intersectionality of animal rights/welfare and human rights/welfare are available here and here.)
Anyhow, because this is an introductory post that’s starting to run long, I’ll leave you with this list of resources for frugal (vegan!) living. Some are by and for vegans specifically, while others are more general in scope. Again, please give your own favorites a shout out in the comments section!
Low Budget Vegetarian’s How to Survive as a Low Budget Vegetarian (available as a free .pdf download)
Lisa Van den Boomen’s The Frugal Vegan’s…Survival Guide zine series
Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan with a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock (2005)
Sarah Kramer’s Vegan a Go-Go!: A Cookbook & Survival Manual for Vegans on the Road (2008)
Frugal Living @ About.com
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