Lately, it seems like it’s super hip for a vegan celebrity to hire a nutritionist and a personal chef and give veganism a go, but is this always a good thing?
Zach’s done some great coverage of the vegan celebrity phenomenon. While I think that celebrities going vegan is a great way to raise awareness about the whys behind veganism, I think it makes the how seem out of reach for regular folks who can’t afford a personal chef and a diet of faux meat.
This started to bother me last week, when my pops called to talk to me about Bill Clinton going vegan. While we were chatting, he commented that Clinton had a personal chef preparing his meals and probably had a nutritionist. This wasn’t the first comment like this that I’d heard, and the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me. We even got a comment about this on our Eat Vegan on $4 a Day giveaway:
Well, yeah. It’s easy if you’re a Hollywood star, and have a staff to clean your house, shop for food, cook your meals, and do the dishes, etc., etc.
Eating vegan for the rest of us is time consuming, expensive, and a pain, although not as much of a pain as it is for the animals when we eat them :(
The thing is, while I’m sure it’s nice to have those things, you certainly don’t need any of it to eat a healthy vegan diet, and it doesn’t have to be a pain. We’ve talked about eating vegan on a budget before and even eating healthy on a time budget, but I think those topics bear re-hashing, because there’s still a misconception out there that veganism costs a lot of money and means spending lots of time in the kitchen, and that average folks with full time jobs can’t swing it.
The Budget Vegan
Faux meat is expensive. Vegan dairy substitutes are expensive. They’re also not very healthy for you. I like to think of these as “sometimes food.” Sure, splurge on a $5 pack of vegan sausages or a $6 bag of fake cheese for a special occasion, but for your day-to-day, you don’t need these foods to eat a vegan diet. Here are some cheap, easy meal ideas that don’t involve faux anything:
- Beans (canned or from scratch) and rice with diced onion and tomatoes.
- Tacos full of beans, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, and sauteed onion.
- Steamed tofu and veggies with brown rice. It’s even easier if you cook this in your rice cooker with steamer basket attachment.
- Veggie stew, made in the slow cooker.
You might also check out some vegan blogs and forums for great recipes! Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Post Punk Kitchen
- Fat Free Vegan
- Vegan Dad
- Vegan Lunch Box
- Our own recipe archive! It’s not 100% vegan, but you can find lots of tasty, simple vegan recipes there.
Really, that’s just the tip of the vegan recipe iceburg. You can pick up some great vegan cookbooks to help you plan tasty, inexpensive vegan meals, too! No chef required.
You don’t need a nutritionist to eat a balanced vegan diet. You just want to make sure you’re getting a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats. How much of each you need really depends on your activity level, but USDA recommends 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fat.
Most folks don’t worry about getting enough carbs or fat on a vegan diet, but for some reason there’s a lot of fretting about getting ample protein. It’s pretty rare for vegans to suffer from protein deficiency. You can read more about getting enough protein as a vegan in our article Eating Vegan: Where Do You Get Your Protein?
The only nutrient that’s a bit tricky for vegans is vitamin B12. You can take a supplement, if this is something you’re worried about. If you’re already taking a multivitamin, chances are your B12 is covered – just check the back of the bottle.
If you are looking for expert information on vegan nutrition, I’d recommend following The Vegan R.D. Ginny Messina is a vegan nutritionist and a wealth of information! You can find lots of great info by searching her archives, and if there’s something that she hasn’t covered, you can contact her through her website. When I emailed her, she took a little while to get back to me, but she did respond and was very helpful!
So, what do you guys think? Is the vegan celebrity phenomenon helping the vegan movement or hurting it? Or is it a little bit of both? Have you heard folks complain that they’d try veganism if they could only afford to hire a personal chef like Oprah?
Photo Credit: Alan Light