As a follow up to my post Is Vegan Too Expensive, I want to delve into the link of food prices and health. A friend emailed me asking how I keep food costs down while feeding my family of three a vegan diet. My response was I don’t look to keep food costs down; I buy what my family and I need to eat a nutritious diet.
The grocery bill is still a contentious topic among American households. When our budget gets tight, the first place we look to cut is the food bill, not the cable channels that may increase our sedentary habits. People continually undermine the power food has on our everyday living.
According to Forbes:
In 1901, according to a 1997 Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the average family spent almost half of their budget on food. Just 3% of that went to meals away from home. Today, we only spend an average 13.3% of our budgets on food–but 42% of that money is spent in restaurants.
Not only are we spending less on food, but according to author Melanie Warner, 70% of the average North American diet consists of processed foods. This peer-reviewed article reports that diets high in fat and sugar are cheaper than those that consist of fruit and vegetables: for most levels of energy intake, each additional 100 g of fats and sweets was associated with a $0.07–0.55 per day reduction in diet costs. In contrast, each additional 100 g of fruit and vegetables was associated with a $0.25–0.40 per day increase in diet costs.
While a processed, high fat and sugar diet is cheaper than a plant-based diet, does that make a plant-based diet expensive? While I argue the latter, it’s important to dive into our cheap eating habits and expensive health care system and realize where things are going wrong. The cheaper your food is, the higher your medical bill will be over the span of your lifetime, and with medical reform rife in the United States, food is a critical component to this problem.
Don’t expect to look or feel like a million bucks if you eat off the dollar menu.
It’s no secret that plant-based vegan diets increase quality and quantity of living, reduces risk of obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and even cancer. In my opinion, you can’t put a price on prevention of these horrible diseases and illness, unless you’re already getting a monthly medical bill. Perhaps if Americans reworked their budget to make quality food a priority would we see a dramatic shift in obesity issues, more quality work from our employees, and more money in our pocket from less doctors visits. Better health leads to a better economy and overall enhanced living.
One thing I’d love to see change in this country is more coupons for fruits and vegetables and less for Kellogg products, soda, and other processed foods. I would like a buy one get one on apples instead of ice cream. I want healthier school lunch options for the same price as lunchables. I don’t want to flip through the supermarket’s price list catalog and see a sale on meat, an industry that’s already heavily subsidized by the US government, but instead want to see $0.99 per pound of organic strawberries.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr.