Today, I have an incredible interview from Toni Okamoto, creator of Plant-Based On A Budget.
She debunks a popular myth in the nutrition world – that eating a vegan diet isn’t expensive at all, and is one of the most affordable ways to eat.
Toni recently created a book called Plant-Based On A Budget, where she shares how to eat plant-based for under $30 a week.
I’ve been vegan for almost 5 years now and it’s become a huge part of my life. I volunteer at animal sanctuaries, donate monthly to my favorite rescues, and support vegan-owned small businesses. This huge life change even made me think twice about all of the decisions I thought were *normal* at one time. It’s really crazy!
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Today, we’ll be asking Toni questions that will help any of you who want to transition into a vegan diet.
1. Hey Toni! For those of us that don’t know you, can you give a quick intro of yourself?
I’m Toni Okamoto, hi! I love swing dancing, eating burritos, and most importantly, I run the website and wrote the book, Plant-Based on a Budget.
2. What made you transition into a plant-based diet?
The journey to plant-based living was quite long and full of obstacles for me.
It began for health reasons in high school, first starting with the elimination of red meat from my diet, and lasted about four years until I ate my last piece of cheese.
Although I started my plant-based journey for health reasons, my compassion for farmed animals has kept me plant-based for this long.
3. What is the easiest way for someone to get started eating plant based on a budget?
If you’re switching over from a Standard American Diet, or one that’s similar, remember to go at a pace you’re comfortable maintaining.
It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing and can instead begin with Meatless Mondays, or being plant-based on certain days of the week.
Far too often, people try to forget the lifelong learning they’ve gained about food and try to become fully plant-based overnight, and that’s hard.
Remember not to beat yourself up and that it’s all about progress, not perfection. None of us are perfect.
4. Do I need to shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to eat a plant-based diet?
Definitely not! You can go to the grocery store where you already do most of your shopping.
I’ve done YouTube videos showing how you can easily eat plant-based at Walmart, Dollar Tree, and more!
5. What’s your #1 tip to save money on a plant-based diet?
My best tip: give yourself permission to be cost-conscious with your food.
I’ll take the time to bust out the calculator app on my phone while going through my clipped coupons in the grocery store.
And I’m not ashamed to hand an item back to the cashier at the register because I realized it’s out of my budget.
6. What’s your favorite piece of kitchen equipment to make cooking easier?
I’m going to be cliché and say that it’s my Instant Pot.
I don’t know when it happened, but I’ve become a fanatic. I use my Instant Pot at least a couple of times a day.
A critical consideration for my cooking is how I can spend the least amount of time in the kitchen, and my pressure cooker helps me accomplish just that.
With stovetop cooking, it used to take me 40 minutes to cook brown rice — now I’m done it 20! It’s amazing. Pressure cooking 4eva!
7. What’s your favorite cheap meal to make?
I’ll always have a special place in my heart for instant ramen noodles.
It was the very first thing I learned to cook. My grandma was tired of asking me to make it for her all the time, so finally, when I was about five or six, she showed me how to do it myself.
Then, when I was a lazy teenager, I went back to eating it all the time.
And again, when I was a poor college student and poor mid-20-something-year-old, I relied on it to satiate my hunger.
Me and instant ramen have a special bond now, and I’ve learned how to dress it up with sauces, veggies, tofu. It’s quite good and very versatile!
8. Where can my readers find you if they want to learn more about your story?
There’s a lot of my background story in my new book, Plant-Based on a Budget, and my website, PlantBasedonaBudget.com. If you want to stay up-to-date with my life, I’m active on Instagram.
You can purchase Plant Based On A Budget here.
➡️ What to read next: 30 Ways To Cut Your Spending And Save Thousands Per Year
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How do you eat plant-based on a budget? Share in the comments below!
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