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The Story (and numbers!) Behind Eat Vegan on $4 a Day

Developing Budget-Friendly Vegan Recipes

Tracking numbers, whether it was for the evening news or a meeting with a Wall Street client has been a fun hobby as well as a career. I started trying to get the book published 2 years ago. I saw the economy tanking and knew the time was right and the information needed to get out there, the more stories I saw that said you can’t eat well on food stamps. As I expressed my urgency, and fear that someone would beat me to the punch, I was told by many, what other award-winning TV investigative reporter, turned financial consultant, turned personal trainer, race winning vegan could possibly be better qualified, or would even try to write the kind of book I did.

The research, at least to me, seemed simple. I bought a recipe software program that would also enter price per ingredient. I could choose how the ingredient was measured depending if it was liquid or dry. I could choose whether I wanted ounces, pounds or tablespoons or teaspoons. The only thing I had to do was enter the price for each ingredient myself. So if I entered that a dry ounce of beans is a nickel, and the recipe called for 2 ounces, the software would automatically adjust the price in the recipe to a dime, and then add it to the total of the other ingredient costs.

I tested the recipes not only for taste, but just to make sure that my total costs were accurate. I like to say I lived on the floors of Walmart for 2 years. Employees would ask me what I was doing writing down prices of everything onto an Excel spreadsheet several pages long. I would write down all the different prices of carrots, for example. Usually it was cheaper buying them loose, if they were available. I always tried to find the lowest price, which was usually when the fruit or vegetable was in season.

Once I explained what I was doing to the employees, they would usually start asking me lots of questions and were very enthusiastic about the project. When I started taking pictures of products, and sometimes getting pictures of shoppers with McDonalds Happy Meal in their shopping carts as they strolled the donut aisle, I was really sure that security would come to cart me away. Never turn a former TV investigative reporter loose in Walmart with a tiny iphone camera. But I got the information I needed, which was, you can eat vegan on $4 a day even shopping at Walmart or any big-box store. It’s not rocket science. The answers are right there, especially in the grains and beans aisles.

As I explain in the book, the figures are a snapshot in time. We chose to enter most recipes with a price rounded off to the nearest quarter, again, to allow for wiggle room. I live in a touristy part of Southwest Florida, so the prices here will be about as high as anywhere in the country. Hopefully your prices will be lower.

One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome in getting the book published was getting a publisher to understand, and hopefully the public, that this is not meant to be a static mathematical theory, or a set-in-stone document that will be accurate 100 or even 10 years from now. The point in writing the book was not to write the great American Joy of Cooking Volume 10, but to show simply that low-cost, plant-based eating is quite easy.

I wanted to provide a tool that you can use every day to do your own calculations or be secure that you are getting the very best protein and other nutrient rich foods at the cheapest prices.

The other way you save money is by not needing any additional supplementation, or hopefully medication for the many conditions like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and much more that can be reversed on a plant-based diet. The only thing you will need is Vitamin B12, which used to be in our soil and on our vegetables. But with current day washing of vegetables, B12 is no longer as available. A multi-vitamin will also have adequate supplies of B12.

Next>> Will recipes cost more if you weight more?

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