I would like to become vegan and was told to transition gradually. I’m on a tight budget. I have been eating more vegetables lately but I’d like more ideas. I have tried vegan mayo and sausages and I’ve seen vegan cheese but I don’t see nutritional yeast or vegan butter anywhere. If you have suggestions for stores or websites where I can order vegan stuff once my budget is more lenient, that would be great!
(This question was sent to us through our Facebook page. This reader is Alberta, Canada-based. Question edited for brevity and anonymity.)
Topics Covered: Going vegan on a tight budget, online grocery shopping, where to find nutritional yeast and vegan butter, Canada-specific
YAAY! That’s so wonderful to hear! First of all, don’t worry too much about being perfect. Transitioning gradually is absolutely the way to go. I’ve got a bunch of resources on my site that might be right for you:
Vegan Frequently Asked Questions (recently updated!)
Vegan on a Tight Budget
My Vegan Lifestyle on a Budget resource is the place to start!
If budget is a big concern, choose high-calorie per $1 foods. Eating more vegetables is great! But they’re typically low-calorie per $1 foods, so they can eat through your budget and leave you feeling hungry.
An extreme example illustrating how this makes a difference would be to compare the calories per $1 for canola oil and strawberries. 1.28L No Name Canola Oil ($4.28 from Superstore) equals out to 2436 cals/1$. A 2lb clamshell of non-organic strawberries ($4.98 from Superstore) equals out to 60 cals/1$.
In order to hit a goal of 2500 cals/day you need to spend:
$1.03/day if you ate only canola oil
$41.60/day if you only ate strawberries
Calories per $1 is something to pay attention to if you need to stick to a tight budget. In general, dried grains, beans and legumes, and vegetable oils have a good calorie per $1 ratio. (PS: I am absolutely not saying you should eat canola oil or that you should avoid strawberries.) Be sure to provide variety by balancing calories per $1 with a healthy diet!
I’ve got a whole bunch of grocery posts on my site too which should be extra helpful for you because basically everything is from major grocery stores in Alberta (Superstore, Safeway, Costco) and all of my posts include exactly what I paid.
Do you have a Costco membership (or someone you can shop with who does have one?) Some items (berries and frozen fruit especially!) are a great deal there.
Always check for discount codes before using any online grocery retailers, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to save some extra cash! At iHerb you can use my referral code: ZJP598 to receive $5 off your first order and I’ll receive a small commission too!
I have seen nutritional yeast at Superstore (Bob’s Red Mill, down the “Natural Food Aisle”) but it’s really pricey. Nutritional yeast is a staple for me so I make huge orders (for cheaper shipping) of just nutritional yeast from either iHerb or Vitacost. Amazon might be a good option too (you can probably get a free trial of Amazon Prime if you haven’t before!)
There’s Becel Vegan (probably the cheapest store-bought option. It’s widely available and it goes one sale often. You’ll find it with margarine.) which is firmly in the margarine category (I grew up eating margarine so I don’t mind.)
Earth Balance (I buy it as Superstore, usually found in the natural or specialty sections) is my personal favourite. In my opinion it’s really close to the taste and texture of real butter. It’s perfect for substituting 1:1 in when veganizing baking recipes. This is my go-to for adding that classic buttery flavour to baked potatoes, grilled cheese, toast, mashed potatoes, etc.
Melt (available at Superstore and Safeway – I’ve seen it with the margarine and natural/specialty aisle) has a great buttery texture with a fairly strong coconut flavour. It’s nice for cooking/sautéing (if you don’t mind a light coconut flavour in your completed dish) or patting onto banana bread or muffins. I wouldn’t spread it on toasted bread/bagels/English muffins/etc. because it has a strangely high water content which gives toasted bread products an unpleasant sogginess if it melts (and the flavour isn’t very salty/buttery.)
Do you have questions to ask? We’re answering the bigger in-depth questions here on the blog so feel free to drop a question in the comments and we’ll answer it here! Next up? What’s in my current vegan skincare routine!