Grocery shopping, vegan style.


Just a couple of things. That was my plan going to Whole Foods this weekend. I was just going to get:

Almond butter

Flaxseed meal

Vegan cheese (sliced and a block of jalapeño flavored)

Coconut coffee creamer

But I couldn’t bring myself to stop there. I came across Beyond Meat burgers. So I got two because there’s only two per package. Potstickers! I have really missed those but they’re always tainted with some kind of meat. Gardenin “meat”balls and Gardenin chicken strips. I also realized I needed more veggie crumble for tacos but what about the cheese? You can’t have tacos without cheese…so back for taco style cheese. Twenty five items and $124.81 later I walked out of Whole Foods dumb founded. How did that happen? Why is it so expensive to eat healthy.

Honestly it is not really that expensive. Even though that was only my first stop and I still needed to go to Stop and Shop to get my fruits, veggies and other weekly staples (another $107.00! My poor bank account uuugggg). I have to really think about what is a necessary item and what I believe to be necessary when it comes to grocery shopping. Vegan pumpkin spiced almond milk? Probably not. But I’m also feeding a family of three to five as well as two dogs who like their veggie treats. 

My family is a blended family. I live with my boyfriend, my sixteen year old son and every other weekend my boyfriends two children come and stay with us. This was a kid weekend. My boyfriends kids are by far two of the pickiest kids I’ve ever known and yet they are always willing to try new things. His daughter has mentioned being a vegetarian on many occasions but her mother will not allow it. She’s the easy one. My boyfriend is very willing to try the vegan lifestyle but my boyfriends son and my son like meat. My son knows he will only get animal flesh at his dads house but he is also willing to try vegan options with me. He is especially fond of the vegan cheeses! 

The common theme with all four of them is when it comes to dinner they like to eat traditional things. Spaghetti and meatballs. Tacos. Grilled chicken and burgers with fries. Personally I could sit down to a baked sweet potato with a dab of vegan spread and a little cinnamon and be the happiest chic alive! They want meals constructed from traditional ideas of what should be on the dinner plate. I’m not complaining. I will do whatever I need to do to get a vegan meal on the table with minimal complaints. Vegan meat options are in my opinion a necessary evil. 

When I was an omnivore shopper I would buy a few pounds of chicken, a steak or a couple pounds of ground beef and atleast two pounds of lunch meat every week. The chicken could be upwards of fifteen dollars. The steak or hamburger eight to ten and the lunch meats about twenty. We are talking about forty five to fifty dollars of animal flesh every week. In comparison, four beyond beef burgers were ten dollars. Two packages of Gardenin “meat”balls were ten dollars, same for two packages of Gardenin “chicken” strips. The veggie crumble was two for seven dollars so my total for “meat” like products was about thirty seven bucks. Worth every penny.

Is it more expensive to eat healthy? Absolutely. I won’t deny that my grocery bill has gone up some but there are a lot of factors involved. I buy certain fruits and veggies organic and as your coming to realize I really love my vegan cheeses and they are definitely more pricey than the alternative. Is it worth the effort? To some it may seem like a hasle to go to more than one store to do the grocery shopping but for me it’s absolutely worth the time, no hasle at all. Why not? Aren’t we worth it? We strive for the very best in all aspects of life, shouldn’t we strive to put the best into our bodies? Because once they break down we can’t go out and buy a new one.

And so it begins…

When it comes to my day job, I have been told that I have leadership qualities. That I am proactive, innovative, adaptable and work well independently. I like my job as a Certified Coder at a large hospital group. I work hard and in return I get to work from home every day with my two beagles by my side and watch my son get on and off the bus, spending even more time with my family than before because I make my own hours and have no commute. I am blessed for this. I would like to think that its true in all aspects of my life that I am innovative, proactive, a leader of sorts but sadly, that has not always been the case. Like anyone, I can be shy, I can doubt myself or worry what people might think or say. I get self-conscious and I sometimes care do deeply about what people might think of me. I get anxious about what negative words might come my way if my opinion is not shared.

I have been wanting to start this blog for years. But… Who will want to read what I have to say? Who will care as deeply about what I care about? Who am I to think that I can say anymore than anyone else in this world. Well,…none of that really matters. I have decided that today it begins. No matter what anyone has to say or what they might think of me it doesn’t matter. What matters is the world is bigger than any of us and we are destroying it with some of the simplest tasks we do each day. Some people may say, “Who cares I won’t be here forever!” well I’ll tell you, I care. My children care. My grandchildren and great-grandchildren will care. Hundred of thousands of people on this planet care. And all the animals on this planet that are endangered or will become endangered will care. Its time to stop being selfish and think about the big picture.

I’ve always struggled with eating meat. Ever since I was a child. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a multi-generational home and my Grandma always had a garden. That was my happy place. I would pick and eat fresh vegetables every day. I loved helping with the weeding and the harvesting every year. I felt very grown up having those jobs my Grandma would assign to me. Sometimes she would take me to the nearby farm and we would get milk in glass bottles and a basket of fresh eggs. The chickens would be running around and I loved chasing them. To this day I adore chickens and I hope to have a coop of my own someday just for the companionship. When my Grandma took me to the butcher to get the meat cuts I absolutely hated it. I hated the way it looked and the way it smelled. I hated the way the butchers apron would be bloody and I hated knowing what ever it was that died not long before that moment was going to be cooked and on my plate later that night.

I spent many nights sitting at the kitchen table long past my bedtime with a plate full of food in front of me that I didn’t want to eat. Eventually my mother and Grandma learned not to give me certain things like pork chops and liver…gross. As I grew up I learned to tolerate chicken and fish but it was always unsettling to me but I ate because everyone always said you needed meat for protein. About four years ago I made the full commitment to being a vegetarian. I started incorporating soy and seitian as protein alternatives and realized that the animal flesh wasnt even necessary. This was the game changer for me. A commitment to myself and the animals that I loved so dearly.

But was it enough? I have seen every documentary and read a ton of books that I hope to talk about in later posts. I knew that a vegan lifestyle would be more challenging than just removing the animal protein from one-third of my plate.What about CHEESE? …oh for the love of cheese. Milk has never been my favorite thing so that was not an issue for me but CHEESE. How could I live without it? Well I watched a lovely little video on Instagram of a newborn cow being dragged from its mother with the placenta still attached so the mother could be milked for my cheese. (Meanwhile that sweet little baby cow was off to a four-foot by four-foot crate to become someone veal dinner [more on that later!]). How could I live without cheese? Easy. I stopped. There are almost as many vegan cheese alternatives as there are types of cheese. Some of them are amazing and taste just like real cheese and some… taste like Elmers glue (Dont pretend you never tasted it in elementary school either!!). You have to be willing to buy and taste test a few different ones to find what you like best but that challenge is a big part of the fun in transitioning. There are also very innovative alternatives to milk, butter, chicken, beef, fish, and anything else you could possibly think of that comes from an animal.

So let the journey begin…these are my day-to-day challenges and struggles transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. There are so many things to think about having to do with the many ways we impact our world. Id like to share what I know. Some of what I have to say I have a strong passion for, some things I think I know, and may not, and some things I have no idea about but I’m always willing to learn. The information is out there, sometimes it’s so subtle you really have to pay attention. My advice to anyone curious about being vegan or ready to make the change would be to read and research anything and everything you can get your hands on. Dont always believe whats mainstream, look into it for yourself. Lastly, remember that you only have one body to care for in this lifetime and it is worth the effort you put into it. You are worth it and so am I.

Niki