Live Longer

How We Make Veganism Work For Us

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Before we get started, I’d like to issue a ‘trigger warning’ to all the self-proclaimed carnivores, this article will talk about blasphemous concepts including: veganism, vegetarianism, and even reducing meat consumption. You have been warned…
At the risk of sounding like the cheapest bastards in the world, we are going to explain our grocery shopping and overall dietary choices and why we classify it as “Freegan”. Freegan to us means that we are vegan as far as our dollar is concerned. At home, at restaurants, when we bring pot-luck dishes, etc. But we aren’t 100% opposed to consuming the occasional animal products if they are not only free (hence the “free” aspect of freegan), but also already provided, like at weddings, the aforementioned pot-lucks, parties, you get the picture.
For instance, if we are going out to eat and someone else is footing the bill, we will still choose a vegan, or at worst a vegetarian option (amazingly vegan options aren’t widely available in the Deep South…), because even though we aren’t directly paying for it, we know that our choice will obviously mean more money contributed to animal products. We have a number of reasons for doing this including: saving money, reducing our impact on the environment, health benefits, and preventing unnecessary loss of life, while also trying to avoid being those unbearable people that no one wants to be around.
Just last week Mrs. RRR and I had some friends from out of town staying with us, who are also flirting with veganism, so we went to the Mellow Mushroom up the street for pizza because they offer vegan cheese. We ordered our pizza and a few minutes later, the manager came out and apologized because one of the cooks had put Feta cheese on top of the vegan cheese  therefore eliminating the vegan aspect. They had already put another pizza in the oven to remake ours but he wanted to warn us. I let him know that as long as the first pizza was free, we’d still take it, with the un-vegan cheese and all. If we were unyielding in our demands for vegan food, a whole pizza would likely have gone to waste and that’s not productive at all.
The first aspect, and obviously one of the most important ones considering this is a frugality/personal finance blog, is the financial benefit. Our affinity for Aldi has been well documented, and at Aldi, the fruits and veggies are astronomically cheap (admittedly everything else is pretty cheap too). So it should come as no surprise that purchasing primarily fruits and vegetables can save you a considerable amount of money on your grocery bill. There was a special for a 3 lbs. bag of sweet potatoes for 99¢. 99¢ for 1,170 calories, which is pretty damn close to the daily amount of calories needed for a 115 lbs woman. There’s a whopping 4,500 calories in a $2.39 container of oats. Not to mention the calorie dense, but relatively cheap foods like peanut butter, bananas, oranges, squash, hummus, peas, lentils, black beans, etc. so saving money eating vegan is a pretty easy concept.
Reducing our impact on the envioronment is also an important aspect of our diet. The amount of land and resources that go into raising animals is not only well documented, but also grossly inefficient. Beef requires a 54:1 ratio of protein in vs protein produced. So for every 54 grams of protein a cow eats, it produces just 1. Chickens on the other hand seem very efficient, they only require a 4:1 ratio, which by any other standards is still very ineffecient. But, nearly 25 million chickens are killed for food each day. Every. Single. Day. 25 Million! You would think that feeding people might be a bigger priority than feeding animals for slaughter. According to a report by Cornell University, the US could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat, and if they decided to export that, it would bring an additional $80 billion in GDP. Talk about a boost for the economy.
There are also some measurable health benefits to going plant based including: lowering blood sugar; decrease in cancer; increased heart health; decrease in body fat; even decrease in arthritis. But the anecdotal evidence is even more vast from more energy, and better sleep, to healthier hair and skin and even shorter workout recovery times. Mrs. RRR and I both feel much better when we stick to our consistent diet of plant based products. We just genuinely feel better on multiple levels, and that’s the most important part.
This 2018 we’d like to challenge you, our readers, to try to reduce your meat intake and see if it doesn’t have an impact on not only your health, but also your wallet. See if you can’t go vegetarian for 1 day a week, and if that works and is even enjoyable, you can obviously make the decision to implement it multiple days a week. We think you’ll be surprised at not only how easy it is, but also at how you feel.


  • CashflowKat

    I grew up in your neck of the woods and I don’t think I’ll ever free myself of SEC football and BBQ. But, I do appreciate your point of view and I do eat plenty of healthy vegetarian meals too. Anyway, many of my vegetarian friends have said they’ve developed an aversion to eating meat – it’s totally unappealing to them – the texture the smell, everything. Has this happened to you or are you worried that it will happen and put a damper on your on your Freegan ways?

    • James Lowery

      That’s an interesting concept, Kat. Currently, we find ourselves eating animal products once a week at most, but now that the holidays are over and all the pot-lucks and left overs are subsiding, I suspect that number will drop dramatically. I don’t have an aversion to all meat just yet, although some of it is already unappealing to me (the idea of sitting down with a giant steak in front of me used to be a dream, but now it would be more of a nightmare) but I can imagine a time in the future when even the free aspect will be hard to overcome. Hopefully it doesn’t come too soon, because I can’t see myself turning down free calories anytime soon, animal product or not. Thanks for the insight though!

  • ChooseFI

    I don’t feel strongly about veganism either way. but it impresses me that you are exploring this because I have always thought that getting enough protein on a vegetarian/vegan diet can be difficult and since I know you are a fitness fanatic 🙂 I looked forward to learning how you practically implement this

    • James Lowery

      No pressure, right? At one point we were more laissez-faire about veganism and vegetarianism, but once we started doing it consistently, we could feel a difference. We, admittedly, did have to be more mindful of what we ate in the beginning to make sure we got enough protein. But, we’ve also found that the amount of protein one needs has been generously over estimated and we don’t have any any issues anymore getting adequate amounts.

  • kiwiandkeweenaw

    This is almost exactly our approach to vegan! We eat fully vegan at home and make the best choices when we are out and about. We take the initiative and suggest restaurants that have vegan options to friends/family when we know we’re headed out for a restaurant meal. But, I hate to see food go to waste, so I love what you did with the pizza. And we don’t make wedding hosts bend over backwards for us, and allow a little flexibility in our diet! Thanks for sharing! (BTW, you should sign up for twitter and join the pf community there!)

    • James Lowery

      Wow! Who would’ve thought that we both have practically the same undertaking when it comes to veganism. We feel the same way about food waste, which is the big driving factor in us still consuming the occasional animal products. We feel that good waste should be a cardinal sin of the highest offense, but over consumption is a close second, so it’s a fine line to flirt with. We will definitely look into joining the Twittersphere (is that a thing). We’ve had individual twitter accounts, but weren’t active at that point, especially not in the PF community.

      • kiwiandkeweenaw

        We started eating that way at the start 2017, and now rarely break vegan since our friends/family are aware of our choice. But it is nice to not set difficult requirements. And we’re mostly in it for the environment (so reducing is key), but love the health and animal welfare benefits too. Before going vegan we ate paleo, so it was a pretty drastic shift.

  • Sarah Green

    I considered myself ‘Freegan’ until recently when something happened at a party. I had already prepared myself mentally that I might try something on the buffet table seeing as a didn’t pay for it. So at the party I did, I had mac n cheese and pizza, in front of all my friends and them watching me follow veganism for over 2 years they were happy for me, like I had finally come out of some kind of coma. But when I tried to explain freeganism they said I was confused and really a vegetarian.
    So I think the biggest problem with freeganism is that it is almost always a public thing, and sets a bad example as a vegan when you show endorsement for something you believe is unethical.

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