This is a guest article by Gel Anne Gomez, owner of The Veg Mom Fairview, a vegan food products company.
What if you can go vegan within your budget, would you give it a try? Going on a fully plant-based diet or healthy in general can sometimes appear expensive for some. In reality, it’s the opposite.
With the popularity of superfoods and imported ingredients used in smoothies and foreign cuisine, it is inevitable for vegan cooking to gain the notion of being costly. Hence, it may not be a sustainable lifestyle, budget-wise.
3 Simple Steps to Get You Started
- Buy local! Source your ingredients from your local wet market (palengke) as fresh produce tend to be more costly in groceries. If that’s not possible, you may opt for home delivery. There are farms which offer online ordering process and you can have your goods delivered to you. There is also a growing number of businesses providing ingredients and affordable, ready-to-eat vegan foods. If grocery shopping is still the most convenient for you, choose fruits and vegetables from local farm suppliers. You get to support local economy, reduce your carbon footprint, and consume healthier foods.
- Cook local! Searching for vegan recipes online can lead you to tons of ingredients that may not be affordable. Look for local vegan recipes instead. If you join Manila Vegans Facebook group, a support group for Filipino vegans and for those who are transitioning or simply curious, you can search for #kuripotveganchallenge to find members’ posts on their take of eating well while saving money. We also have traditional Filipino dishes which are vegan-friendly such as varieties of ‘ginataan’ (vegetables cooked in coconut milk) and sautéed mung beans using salt instead of ‘bagoong’. Start with local dishes and slowly build up to cooking foreign cuisine as you wish.
- Veganize! You can practically make a vegan version of almost any dish. Traditional Filipino dishes rely heavily on meat like ‘sinigang’ and ‘nilaga’ but omitting it and any animal derived ingredient and adding more vegetables can do the trick. It may not taste exactly the same as the original high-cholesterol greasy recipe, but if you savor the natural taste of vegetables and think how healthier it is without animal cruelty, you will realize going vegan is actually possible for you.
Get Started! Some easy vegan Filipino recipes:
To help you get started, here are some recipes you can try:
Vegan Buko Steak
Buko juice can be so refreshing and cooling especially during hot days. Save the buko meat and marinate in an equal mixture of soy sauce and water for an hour or even overnight. Cook it like your usual Adobo or Bistek Tagalog Style.
This recipe only needs 2 major ingredients. The regular tofu can do, but firm or extra firm tofu is highly recommended for this. Slice the firm tofu without patting it dry to keep the moisture. Using a non-stick pan, allow it to cook in its own retained moist or liquid for 3-5 minutes on each side on medium heat. Sprinkle some soy sauce for that umami flavor, garnish with some spring onions and toasted sesame seeds, and serve. (Photo at the top of this article.)
Homemade Cashew Milk
Buy raw unsalted cashew nuts from the baking supplies aisle or from baking supply stores and in bulk for a lower price. Soak cashews overnight or for 4 hours. Drain and blend with 3-4 cups of filtered water, depending on the consistency you want to achieve. Add a drop of vanilla and your choice of sweetener. You can also add some spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Store for up to 7 days in the fridge. You can also do this using other nuts and even oats for nut-free option.
Piña Coco Pops
Beat the heat with these Piña Colada inspired popsicles. Blend a cup of fresh or canned/boxed coconut milk, fresh pineapple bits, and a cup of soy milk. Mix more pineapple bits before freezing. Voila!
No need to add sugar. Simply savor the natural, delicious taste of the fresh ingredients together. Perfect for kids and kids at heart!
Can’t miss the smoothie craze! This is what most superfoods are mixed into and has become so popular. Even without super foods, it is already healthy itself. A favorite base is frozen bananas; raw kangkong or lettuce; and a plant based milk such as soy milk, homemade cashew milk or coconut milk. Buy overripe bananas which are already richer in nutrients, sweeter, and usually already cheaper as sellers will throw them away sooner since people don’t like buying what seem like nearly spoiling bananas. Frozen overripe bananas make your smoothie sweet without added sugar and creamier without dairy milk. It is delicious on its own or you can add your choice of fruits. Fruits in season are always the best option.
It’s a lifestyle
Veganism is not only about what we eat, but it’s a lifestyle that transcends into what we wear and the products we use in our bodies and in our home. However, it almost always starts with what we eat, as food consumption is the first thing that comes to mind when we encounter the word vegan because it’s based on a daily consumption.
Daily consumption on a vegan diet rings the budget alarm but it’s not as expensive and as difficult as it may seem. Set yourself to explore a whole new world of a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle without breaking the bank and see where it leads you.
Gel Anne Gomez is a mom to a three-year-old, an online student, and a work-at-home-mom. She’s passionate about health and wellness. Find her on Facebook, on her page, The Veg Mom Fairview, where she also sells ready-to-cook vegan meals.