Budget VeganCredit: Kelly Sue DeConnick a.k.a Kelly Sue (cc)Credit: Kelly Sue DeConnick a.k.a Kelly Sue (cc)

I once found myself in a “debate” with a clawed and argumentative devil's advocate who insisted that “eating plants requires killing too!” Many of us have been here. I was only two or so years green at the time, but I knew my reasoning for lifting the vibration of my lifestyle. I didn't meet him with ferocity or green-flag waving pride. Instead, I soberly extended the reason plant-based diets are considered cruelty free.

Plants don't have pain receptors like animals. They're a different kind of being and can be eaten without inflicting agony or torture upon their nervous systems. The other party's ears were closed to this, naturally. He only seemed interested in airing his point. An intelligent conversation about ethical eating wasn't to be had. I moved on. He was the one who initiated the short “discussion,” and he started it argumentatively. It's nothing new to an open green tongue.

If you're very newly green, you might be discouraged, unsure of what the best options for you are, and mad at the world. The current system is slow-changing (I believe, by design), but awareness is raising, and with the economy in the position it's in, green budget options are looking better by the day, no matter the purchaser's previous cultural preferences. Of them, there are several shining options that plantarians and the green-curious celebrate passionately for good reason. If you're a new greenling, this may come off as somewhat of a gift. Processed plant-based foods are expensive, but that's alright. They aren't the only choice you have:


Green Dairy

Green dairy options completely replace the old products, and no one has to get hurt. Green milks have become fairly ubiquitous (even smaller bodegas carry them now – they're selling). Green cheeses are catching on a bit more slowly, but in fairness, it took some time for them to be perfected. The best vegan cheese currently available is Daiya for some. Others prefer Follow Your Heart, or Cheezly.

There are homemade options as well – recipes abound on the internet (cashew “cheez” comes highly recommended). And either way you go, there's a way to apply any of them (with the exception of the pricey Dr. Cow's brand) to your budget. The average vegan cheeses range in cost from 3.99 to 4.99 and one package can usually be applied to at least 3 meals for two people (... mini pizzas, grilled cheeses, quesadillas, and mac&cheese).


Green Burgers

You've probably already tried veggie burgers, but the truly green varieties don't require the mass production process that tortures dairy cows and force inseminates them with metal pipes (harsh, but true, and it needs to be said). Brands like Lightlife reveal whether or not their faux meat contains any form of dairy (in bold unmissable lettering).

Gardein is another (possibly more) amazing brand. Making a blissful not-chicken sandwich with their faux chick'n strips is worth the effort (be sure to use vegenaise with it – 'tis flavor sensations).

The average cost of a package of faux meat that takes care of just one meal for two is usually ranging from 3.99 to 4.99, however. Making you're own is far more cost-effective. But, if you're able to enjoy the occasional night of quick-cooking vegan packaged food these can come in handy.

Making your own veggie patties will have a much lighter impact on your wallet. A Blackbean burger is easily made with equal parts of lightly seasoned and simmered blackbeans with rice flour (or your choice of unrefined flour). Add enough water to create the consistency you want, form patties, and fry them. If you buy dried beans (they don't seem to have a known expiration date – stock up), soak and boil them before you make burger rounds. A bag that costs around one dollar can yield a green tongue at least 10 patties. If you also have a stellar blender (like a vitamix), you can grind your own rice to make rice flour (well-ground rice is the only ingredient you need). This method will cost pennies to enjoy, and you can switch up the beans, types of flour, and variations to suit your palate.


Green Cake & Cookies

Green baking is identical to traditional baking, except, it doesn't contain dairy. There's no taste difference whatsoever, and the options are myriad. For some they're easiest to purchase, but they can be made easily at home as well.

If your heart's set on not getting your hands floured, brands like Alternative Baking, Cherrybrook Kitchen, Dulce Vegan, Eco Planet, and Sunflour Baking co. mass produce kits and pre-baked goods that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

If you're ready to double-knot your apron and get down to business, cookbooks like Licking The Beaters, The Green Manuals, and Vegan Pie In The Sky are good tomes to have on hand for both formal and intimate events. There are also a wide range of resources on the internet that boast archives filled with hundreds of green recipes (and feedback from people who've tried them).

Traditional recipes will serve you as well. If you substitute each call for egg with a teaspoon of arrowroot or non-gmo cornstarch (a binding substitute), use vegan milk when it's required, and utilize agave or maple syrup (organic sugar, coconut sugar, and date sugar are also options) instead of bone-char processed white sugar, you can turn nearly any recipe into a green one.


Green eating is a lot easier than its made out to be. With a little experimentation, you'll be a pro in no time. Purchasing the initial ingredients you'll need is painless, whether you acquire them online or off. Start small, experiment, and decide from there how you'll enjoy the budget-friendly possibilities available to green tongues.