Weekend Reading: Is It Time To Go Vegan Edition

Weekend Reading: Is It Time To Go Vegan Edition

Our family switched to a plant-based diet two years ago. We have our reasons – a dairy intolerance was the driving force but there’s also environmental concerns, the ethical treatment of animals, a healthier diet, etc. We’ve never looked at it from a financial perspective, mostly because we haven’t noticed much of a change in our grocery spending. Fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive, as are protein supplements.

But if you have noticed the items in your grocery cart are getting more and more expensive then maybe it’s time to re-think your regular diet of meat and dairy.

That seems to be happening already. Sales of beef, chicken, and pork are all down significantly this year as meat prices continue to rise and more plant protein options arrive on the scene. 

According to the Food Professor, Sylvain Charlebois, prices for milk, butter, and yogurt are expected to soar next year:

Everyone has their own shopping habits and preferences, so your basket of goods will likely vary from mine. If prices for gas, lumber, and meat are rising but you work from home, don’t plan on building a deck or fence, and eat a lot of plant-based proteins then you probably won’t feel the pain as much as a daily commuter who’s in the middle of a renovation and eats beef, chicken, and pork on the regular.

We’re not preachy vegans here to tell you to change your diet. You do you. But if concerns about your health, the environment, and the ethical treatment of animals haven’t persuaded you to eat more plants then perhaps the soaring cost of meat and dairy will.

If you want to add more plant-based meals to your life then a good “in-to” book for you to try is Mostly Plants: 100 Delicious Flexitarian Recipes from the Pollan Family

Their motto is, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer’s book, Fraiche Food, Full Hearts, is also worth a read.

Our biggest challenge with a plant-based diet is finding appropriate and healthy meal options at restaurants – especially when we travel. Also, living in southern Alberta, the plant-based selections at the grocery store are sparse at best (although the dedicated shelf space is getting bigger).

But you can absolutely make delicious meals with plant-based ingredients. We’ve come a long way from the sawdust veggie burgers of the past. 

Readers: Have you changed your diet at all to combat rising food prices? Let me know in the comments.

This Week’s Recap:

In my last post I reviewed The Rule of 30, an excellent new book by retirement expert Fred Vettese. 

We were grateful to receive an extra copy of the book to give away to a lucky reader who commented on the review. Congratulations to Jessica, who commented on October 20th at 10:45 p.m. I’ll be in touch this week to send you a free copy of The Rule of 30.

From the archives: The Misguided Beliefs of Financial Advisors.

Promo of the Week:

I’m still amazed how much cash Canadians have sitting around in their big bank chequing and/or savings account earning nothing. I get it, there’s comfort and safety in having your money with one of the big five or six banks. But there are so many other options to increase your interest rate by 100x or more so you are at least attempting to tread water with inflation.

My go-to option is EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account, which pays 1.25% interest. EQ Bank is an online bank and an offshoot of Equitable Bank, which has been around since 1970. Deposits at EQ Bank are insured by CDIC for up to $100,000 per insured category, per depositor. 

I like EQ Bank because it pays an everyday high rate (within the top 3-5 of the market leaders at all times). I don’t want to bother moving my money around to different institutions chasing short-term interest rate promotions (looking at you, Tangerine).

Weekend Reading:

Our friends at Credit Card Genius share an incredible 17 easy ways to collect extra cash back.

“If you had just put ten thousand dollars into…” – Ben Carlson looks at the 10 most dangerous words in investing.

New York Times columnist Ron Lieber mansplains why women may be better investors than men.

The good news about retirement income? A lower starting withdrawal rate doesn’t guarantee you’ll have to live on less.

The Canadian Couch Potato Dan Bortolotti is back with a new book – It’s Time To Reboot Your Portfolio. I’ve pre-ordered a copy and will share my review later this year.

A great post and lesson from Millionaire Teacher Andrew Hallam, when speculation crashes.

Preet Banerjee offers a beginner’s explanation on the Evergrande crisis. This is the Chinese company that owes $300 billion to creditors:

Here’s Morgan Housel on why there’s rarely a time when the people who were right in hindsight didn’t sound a little crazy at one point.

Why high interest instalment loans are becoming increasingly more common among Canadians with low credit scores or short credit histories.

Des Odjick shares her personal story about how to financially prepare for a pet emergency.

The Evidence-Based Investor Robin Powell explains why the FAANG stocks have been so dominant.

Will your nest egg last if you retire today? Michael James shares how he thought about market returns when timing his own retirement.

Twitter went wild when its CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that hyperinflation “is happening”. Pragmatic Capitalism author Cullen Roche explains why that is not the case at all.

The New Yorker revisits Tim Ferriss’s The 4 Hour Work Week, and why its message may have been uncannily prescient about today’s work-from-anywhere trend.

Finally, everything you want is out of stock or more expensive. Global’s Erica Alini explains what’s happening with our supply-chain woes.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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  1. Dennis on October 30, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    For an opinion on why being vegetarian may not be as environmentally friendly as you think, consider reading “The Vegetarian Myth” by Keith Lierre. There appears to be a problem with monocrop farming that is destructive to the soil.

  2. CJ on October 30, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    I agree with Dennis. Robb Wolfe has a new book out saying the same. As far as health, any reasonable diet can be healthy. There are people that eat carnivore and flourish on that diet. Point is, there is no one diet that is best, everyone is different.
    Humane treatment of animals is a reasonable agreement.

  3. David on October 30, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    I joined this newsletter for financial advice not “not preachy” entreaties to give up meet. You just lost a reader. Stick to what you know

    • Robb Engen on November 1, 2021 at 11:45 am

      Lol. No one is telling you to give up meet. Go ahead and meet with whomever you like.

  4. Wen Kauffman on October 30, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    I love seeing this post from a financial blogger! In the mid 1990’s I decided to try vegetarian because meat and especially dairy never agreed with me. Soon after I became vegan when a good friend of mine, who was studying philosophy introduced me to the concept. She said the benefits to the earth and especially the cruelty of the animals was the main reason for her to adopt veganism. After researching old school, since there was no internet back then, I agreed with her and made the switch. The problem for me was the alienation, isolation from friends and family members. It was very upsetting and divisive with people. It was so radical for me to be vegan in Edmonton, AB and I found that after time my diet became more plant based to fit in with people again, until about 6 years ago I switched back to being vegan. I know that my food budget is a large portion of my weekly budget, but I place value on this for moral ethical reasons and prioritize this. Also, in comparison to my friends that are omnivores, my spending appears to fall in line with their budgets so I don’t think I spend more overall then they do. I might spend money on my favourite plant based yogurt ( yoggu which is now carried in save-on) where they might spend an equal amount on an animal food. For reference, for a family of four ( two adults and a 20 year old son, 17 year old daughter and their friends 2-3 times a week at our house) we have a mutables budget of $700/ week. Gas and groceries always come out first. $100 for gas for two vehicles and $180-230 per week for food/ household supplies depending on what we need. The bulk of what I buy is fresh fruits and veg. We eat out once a week as a family $100, and my partner sometimes buys starbucks or lunch out for about $50 during the week. Everything is vegan. I know that everyone’s income varies and that might seem like a lot, but compared to my friends in the same income bracket, with kids at home, they are around the same per week. This leaves about $220 left for hair cuts, entertainment or trying other vegan foods out there. I have one friend who is vegan and doesn’t make as much and she buys more frozen fruits /veg, dry goods like beans and lentils. She rarely buys the fancy vegan meats or cheeses but still manages to stay vegan with a family.

    I never thought I’d see the world switch to plant based eating in my lifetime as a lonely vegan in 1995, but here we are seeing full displays carrying a wide range of plant based milks, cheeses, yogurts, ice creams, butters, tofus, treats and seitan products. Even costco carries so many vegan items now. So I do think that humans will start to eat differently as we try to correct course with climate change. When demand changes and businesses can see an opportunity to make money on these products, even mainstream companies are producing plant based items now. Soon vegan kit kat and cadbury vegan milk chocolate will be on the shelves. Thanks!

  5. Mike on October 30, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    Great post! Thanks for the cookbook share. Not not vegetarian but have been trying to reduce my meat intake and I will definitely check these out.

  6. Lisa on October 31, 2021 at 5:54 am

    Eating a primarily whole foods, plant based diet is overwhelmingly proven to not just prevent chronic diseases but to actually be able to reverse diseases in some cases. Check out Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard’s work. That means stick to fruit, vegetables (yes, even starchy ones like potatoes), whole grains, and legumes, and a bit of nuts/seeds. I encourage a free program called Full Plate Living to help transitioning to a healthier diet, without necessarily having to go total vegetarian or vegan. “Eat whole foods, as much as you want, only plants,” – that is Rip Esselstyn’s take on the Polan quote above. Also check out “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger. So surprised and pleased to see this blog post. Cheers!

  7. Kristen on October 31, 2021 at 6:25 am

    We are not completely vegan or vegetarian but we have significantly cut back on meat and dairy. We made the change for a variety of reasons, mainly because we feel much better when we eat plant-based. The bonus is significant savings on our groceries. We tend to not buy meat and diary substitutes which I think would increase our spending on food. At this point, we just eat the meat or dairy if that’s the type of meal we want.

  8. Kat on October 31, 2021 at 10:48 am

    I was very surprised by this blog post! Some of my favourite things all in one place: financial literacy, vegan whole food plant-based eating and Jillian Harris lol! I wasn’t expecting this content but I’m here for it. The two reasons I switched to plant-based eating a few years ago now are animal cruelty and the environment. I’ve also applied these values to how I invest my money.
    I’m currently investing with a robo-advisor for socially responsible investing, but I want lower fees. I can’t seem to find an SRI all-in-one growth ETF that I wouldn’t need to rebalance myself, like a VEQT or XEQT equivalent. Can you write a post with some options if they exist? Thanks Robb!

  9. Pam on November 1, 2021 at 9:38 am

    I became a “meat eating vegan” about 10 years ago when I mostly stopped eating dairy and eggs for dietary reasons. My meat consumption is way down from where it was and I do try to pick sustainable farming practices when I can.

    Plant based options are much better now than they used to be but eating out is still not great…especially in AB but it is improving.

  10. Claire on November 1, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Delighted to see this very refreshing post on a financial blog!

    Not vegan but my family has limited its meat consumption (esp red meats) ever since I read Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet back in the eighties. Good advice then, good advice now. And a whole food diet is healthier no matter which way you look at it.

    I will admit to a little anxiety about the likely continued increase in food costs as key food production centres like California experience more droughts and drain their aquifers. To me it makes sense to do what we can to ameliorate this.

  11. Lynn Hoyt on November 1, 2021 at 11:59 am

    I’ve been vegetarian for 23 years followed by vegan for the last 3. I initially switched due to animal welfare issues, but given the overwhelming evidence of the contribution that animal agriculture makes to climate change, it’s the most logical choice regardless of cost. However, I do also find that I can keep my grocery bill really quite low as long as I resist the urge to buy too many vegan meat, cheese and other dairy substitutes. Of course, any grocery bill will be lower when the amount of packaged and processed food is minimized, but this is particularly true of a vegan diet given that vegan protein sources (beans, lentils, soy, peas, etc) are significantly less than meat. Most of these products can also be made even more cost effective if they are purchased in bulk (e.g. dried beans and lentils) as they have a long shelf life.

  12. Cheryl on November 1, 2021 at 11:09 pm

    I’m with Kat – some of my favorite things in this post! I became a vegetarian in 1986. I’m not vegan but I do mainly eat a plant based diet and I save a lot of money on groceries. 20 years ago I was in Alberta on a camping trip and stopped in Claresholm at probably the only grocery store in town trying to find veggie burgers. Quite a challenge in the heart of Alberta beef country! No frozen veggie burgers there but I eventually spotted two packages well hidden in the produce aisle. It was my second pass through of that section, and I’m still not quite sure how I managed to see them.

  13. Sarah on November 2, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    We actually cut my grocery bills by about 1/3 when we went vegan. So definitely helps financially. Just gotta buy good things, buy chickpeas / beans / nuts / lentils / etc in bulk.

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