Being vegetarian does not necessarily mean that you are eating healthy or cheaply.
Moving to a plant-based diet has provided Keiva Dennis, a member of Seabrook Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lanham, Maryland, United States, many health benefits: she lost 20 pounds (9 kilograms), her acne cleared up, and her knee pain disappeared. She also says it’s cheaper than her previous vegan diet.
Dennis first began following a whole-foods, plant-based diet more closely after spending time with her sister’s family, who ate that way. “Eating whole foods was so amazingly satisfying that I decided to continue this lifestyle,” she says.
At one point a vegan, she now eats more plant-based meals. “Being vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean that we are healthy. We can be junk food vegetarians and vegans!” says Dennis. “I was so surprised when my hemoglobin A1C results five years ago indicated that I was borderline prediabetic. How could that be? Sugar continues to be my weakness. Vegan ice cream and vegan cakes don’t help.”
Before switching to a plant-based way of eating, she says a typical breakfast was processed cereal with soy milk or a blueberry muffin. Now she eats homemade granola with homemade almond milk. For bread, she eats sprouted grain bread, which is more nutrient-dense and has more fiber than most bread on store shelves. She also eats at least two types of fruit at breakfast.
For dinner, she used to eat some type of veggie meat. A typical dinner now might be creamy coconut chickpeas over brown rice with broccoli. She ends the meal with a couple of raw cashew nuts.
How Does She Save Money?
Dennis says that from 2018 to 2019, she managed to reduce the amount of money she spends every month on food. She recommends using the EveryDollar budgeting app to track spending.
“I’m not as concerned about eating organic, even though I do shop at mostly organic grocery stores. I find that the produce looks better in organic stores, and the veggies last longer,” she says.
Keiva Dennis, a church member from Seabrook Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lanham, Maryland, United States, says that eating healthy can also be a way of saving money if you plan ahead and focus on unprocessed foods. [Photo: Columbia Union Visitor]
Dennis says that eating unprocessed whole foods versus processed plant-based foods is what saves her the most money. “Eating foods as close to how they are derived from the earth means that we are not paying a manufacturer to alter the food,” Dennis says. “You’ve cut out the middleman and therefore [are] not paying for that service. Try it! Get most of your food from the produce section of the grocery store and eat fruit, nuts, grains, and vegetables as unprocessed as possible.”
But, with less processed produce comes more preparation time. “Meal planning is essential, so that it doesn’t take that much more time,” Dennis says. She cooks items in bulk and stores them in small containers. She does a lot of cooking on Sunday and warms up the containers during the week, except for salads, which she prepares throughout the week.
Dennis says she doesn’t get bored planning out all her meals. “God gave us so much variety with food that there is so much more for me to discover. Cooking is like a science, and it exercises my creativity,” she adds.
Dennis encourages people wanting to eat more plant-based foods to ask God for help to “eat in a way that glorifies Him. The change will come from Him.”
She also says it helps to subscribe to social media channels for inspiration and ideas. And she encourages people to purchase one or two good vegan cookbooks. “I encourage people also to try new dishes, meals, and fruits and vegetables not typically eaten,” she says. “And minimize salt, oil, and sugar.”