Hey everyone, today I've got a great guest post for you from my friend Paige over at ModernMerfolk.com! I've actually known Paige for years (we went to high school together), and I've watched her become an ultra-marathon runner (50 freaking miles), CRNA/nurse anesthesiologist, and awesome vegan blogger. Like all of us that are trying to live debt-free, vegans are also the “weird” people in society. 🙂 I'm so excited to have her on the site today. Enjoy! ~M$M
Wow, first off I must thank Bobby here at M$M for this blog post feature! My life has definitely taken a turn in an unexpected (and positive) direction, and I'm super excited to get to share my experiences with this audience!
SECOND, I'll just address the obvious question: why am I talking about vegan food on a finance blog?
In many ways I've had an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience with veganism, but I would be flat out lying to you if I said that it's been entirely easy. I started this plant-based journey 3.5 years ago while living in the suburbs of Houston, TX, after quitting my job to go to nurse anesthesia school….while living with a meat-eating husband…with no prior experience in cooking my own meals. Superb timing, right?
I found myself 3.5 years later with $124,000 in student loan debt (believe it or not, I got lucky with in-state tuition) and the world around me seemingly screaming, “Spend your money! You deserve it!”.
My diet didn’t just help me save money while I was in school– it prepared me to fully embrace the lifestyle required to achieve debt freedom in the years following.
Is this lifestyle for everyone? Maybe not.
But…Are fruits and vegetables good for you? We can all probably agree on that.
I realize that most of you probably have zero desire to give up animal products. And I get it. I've been there. But if any of the points below resonate with you, I'd encourage you to simply invite more plants into your life.
Here are 3 unexpected ways that veganism changed my life, and my husband’s as well.
1) We Stopped Eating Out
Houstonians are spoiled by the hundreds of amazing award-winning restaurants and bars within the city limits, but are decidedly ignored on the vegan food front. We have several veg-friendly joints in town, but our funky cousin Austin and fancy-pants sister Dallas took it to a whole new level. They have vegan ice cream parlors, “barbecue” vegan meat brunches, and more dog-friendly organic cruelty-free bistro options than I care to even count.
While it may sound like a miserable situation, having limited dine-out options is actually a great thing for us.
We were forced to learn to create delicious meals in our own kitchen, and this created an invaluable shift in our lifestyle that persists today.
2) We Learned How to Meal Plan
We used to visit the grocery store without a goal in mind, which proved positively pointless when trying to stick to a budget. Instead of walking down the aisles mindlessly grabbing ingredients for familiar dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or steak and potatoes, we learned to make meal plans with detailed lists each week in order to make sure we even owned the ingredients needed for new dishes like curry and vegan enchiladas.
What started with unfamiliarity to plant-based cuisine became the chief reason we have (and stick to) a food budget today. We now pay for everything using cash envelopes, and our grocery bill went from a consistent $220 to $120/week.
3) We got used to Living Differently
I’m convinced that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is great for our bodies, the planet, and (just maybe) animals on commercial farms. But aside from the obvious health and environmental benefits, our lives completely took a left turn when we adopted a plant-based lifestyle.
It was as if my husband and I belonged to a new “fight-the-system” club. Suddenly, we grew accustomed to challenging what society kept telling us was normal.
“Good debt” sounded very similar to the “milk does a body good” campaign slogan the milk industry falsely propagated in the 1980s.
All of our friends ate meat and dairy, but many also lived paycheck to paycheck under mountains of debt. We realized that we had the choice to live differently in more ways than one. A plant-based diet helped us to reframe our priorities, and allowed us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Was switching to a vegan diet easy? Nope. But we learned, grew, and saved money along the way.
Will paying off my student loans be easy? Not at all.
But the journey and payoff will be worth it.