Foodie Dané Vermeulen recently decided to adopt a plant-based diet for healthy lifestyle reasons. As a meat-lover this was no easy decision, but a sky-high blood pressure reading was all she needed to convince her to make a change. She shares her journey and recipes with Food For Mzansi readers.
So, how expensive is a plant-based diet really? My decision to go plant-based was quite sudden and I made that decision without even knowing how expensive it would be. I just knew I had to try it and I needed to make a change in my lifestyle.
I was quite excited to try plant-based meat alternatives and I thought it would be crazy expensive, but yet again I was pleasantly surprised. (I plan to go deeper into meat alternatives next week, so be sure to check back.)
Checkers offers a great range called Fry’s, with some products being hits and some misses, but most of them are very tasty and not that expensive. Most of their products are around R40 and it will easily serve a family of four. I found that a meat option costs more or less the same, sometimes even more. Let’s face it, meat is expensive and eating animal protein three times a day will also eat your budget.
That being said, a plant-based diet can be expensive. Certain ingredients like tahini or milk alternatives can be expensive, but you can also do without them. When carefully selecting products and budgeting, you can easily reduce your monthly grocery expenses by a quarter.
Excluding meat is not the only reason this diet will save you money. I found that I eat less, and a meal lasts longer so that my spending and the amount of food I need to buy is reduced.
My diet also consists of more fruit and that can be expensive, but luckily fruit is something you can grow yourself, so that’s another way to save money. The same goes for herbs and lettuce.
One thing to keep in mind is not to try elaborate recipes to mimic meat, because most of the time it needs a lot of time and expensive ingredients. Rather explore the world of vegetables, mushrooms and fruit to challenge your perception of food, in order to change what you eat.
I decided to do this recipe for when you crave that flavourful home-cooked meal that will never leave you unsatisfied.
Tip: Keep your vegetables fresher for longer by placing them in a zip-lock bag in the fridge. Your vegetables can last three times longer and you can reuse the bags.
Your weeknight curry fix
Olive oil for cooking
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 small green pepper (chopped)
½ head of broccoli (chopped)
1 large clove garlic (diced)
1 heaped tablespoon of fresh ginger (chopped)
1 heaped tablespoon of vegetable stock
1 can chickpeas
1 can coconut milk
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tablespoon mild curry powder
1 tablespoon of chutney
1 ½ cups of basmati rice
Coriander leaves for garnish
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh chili (if you like it hot)
- Cook your rice in a pot with double the amount of water (3 cups) on medium heat with some salt until the rice is soft and fluffy. If any water remains, strain it and set aside.
- In a large pan, brown the onions in some olive oil on medium heat.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute before adding the curry powder. Add fresh chili if you can handle the heat, otherwise you can leave it out.
- Stir and cook for another minute before adding the can of tomatoes.
- Add the vegetable stock, mix it into the ingredients and bring to a simmer to add the chickpeas and the coconut milk.
- Mix well and let it cook for 10 minutes. Add the green peppers and broccoli and cook until soft, but crunchy. Lastly, add the chutney and mix it into the curry.
Dish the rice into a bowl or onto a plate. Add your plant-based curry and top it off with some fresh coriander leaves.