My name is Raysa França and I am a degree student from Brazil. I’m studying in the Leadership for Change master’s degree programme at Tampere University. I have been living in Finland and Tampere for more than a year, and now I will share some tips on how to have a vegan diet on a student budget, as well as why I’m vegan in the first place.
Why being vegan, or why cooking more vegan food?
- For the environment: being from Brazil, I care a lot about the Amazon, and the number one cause of deforestation over there is due to expansion of cattle and soy to cattle food. Also, meat is very intensive from the water consumption point of view, and many more. Learn more about this: 9 reasons why veganism can save the world.
- For animals: in my case, being vegan for the animals was the number one cause! I was really uncomfortable witnessing slaughters, and I had a deep connection to many animals – so why eat their bodies? Regarding the ethical motives, you can learn more here: Non-Human Animals: Crash Course Philosophy #42
Now, let’s go to the actual tips, shall we?
Tip 01: Eat according to the season
Being from a tropical country, I never wondered if the vegetables I bought in my home country were from a specific season, since there is not much of a price difference. But in Finland, the prices vary a lot in winter or summer time!
When I arrived, my mistake was to buy whatever vegetables I wanted during winter without checking the prices carefully, only to notice how hard it was to keep my finances stable. I recommend you to focus on local veggies, such as cabbage, carrots, and potatoes during winter. Besides that, the student meals of restaurants offer a good supply of vegetables in your meal at a fair price, so use them!
There are some calendars of seasonal vegetables that you can use to guide your meal planning.
Tip 02: Compare prices
When I arrived in Finland, especially in the first months, I bought a lot of food in the K-Market and S-market chains, until I found out about Lidl! It is considerably cheaper, and the good news is the catalogue for vegan-friendly groceries is expanding.
There are vegetable milks, normal and smoked tofu, and many organic options with very affordable and accessible prices. You can also get cheap rye bread (which is already cheap in Finland, but even cheaper in Lidl), and there are a lot of sales and promotions going on there. Nevertheless, never forget to check the -30% and -60% discounts at the K and S chains.
Tip 03: Meal planning
I know this will sound like a boring activity, but meal planning saves you a lot of stress, time, energy and money! Every week, I try to think about a set of meals.
This is what my plan looks like normally:
7 meals a week
- 2 or 3 are quick and easy to cook, such as pasta, rice, couscous, etc.
- 2 are elaborate and special, usually done during the weekend
- 2 or 3 are in the middle, not super quick, but also not elaborate, such as soups and salads
Example of last week:
- Lentil and carrot curry
- “Fish soup” (traditional lohikeitto, which is made usually with salmon, but here we use smoked tofu)
- Polenta with lentil bolognese (a Brazilian very delicious dish!)
- Chilli (made with three different beans and cocoa powder!)
- Lentil and peanut butter soup (check the recipe!)
- My friend’s invention – olive oil, zucchinis, eggplant, smoked tofu, flour, nuts and nutritional yeast
- Fubá soup (a Brazilian dish, the basis of the soup is corn flour, and you add vegetables and spices)
I always think about different sets of proteins that can be mixed with these meals, for example, lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, soy protein, and so on to have a nice balance of nutrients. I also usually try to cook with fresh vegetables in every meal to guarantee a satisfying and nutritious meal.
My boyfriend and I eat quite an international set of meals. Both Finnish and Brazilian, but also with influences of Vietnam, Italian, Chinese and Arabian.
Now, during remote teaching, I cook enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch, but you can plan yourself to cook only dinners if you have your lunch meals at the student restaurants. If it is winter, I usually eat a lot of soup too! They are an easy way to have delicious meals on a budget. If it is summer, bring me some salad!
Why is meal planning important?
- Buying food is more effective when you plan ahead what to eat! You reduce the trips to the grocery stores, and you can easily adapt your plan to whatever is cheaper.
- You avoid eating out or ordering food out due to immediate despair and hunger, it becomes more of a choice than a consequence of lack of planning.
- You reduce food waste!
- Healthier meals
Here are some ideas for recipes of vegan food:
- 3 one-pot easy vegan recipes, from the Eko-Tuni Handbook
- Vegan recipes on a budget
- Minimalist baker recipes
4. General tips for saving money with groceries
I created a group with myself and my boyfriend on Telegram by which I take pictures of the prices of products in different supermarkets and stores around where I live. So when I need to buy something, I just search for the price in these groups. It’s that easy and helps me save a lot of money. Also, it is always good to keep tuned on discounts. There are great deals going on in many supermarkets with food on sale.
If you want to know more about veganism, cooking your own food, or even sustainability in Finland, or if you have any questions about the culture in Finland, life in Tampere and Tampere University, you can always ask me or another student at the Unibuddy platform!
Free of charge!