There is a prevailing notion on this campus as well as outside of it that being vegan is expensive. As a vegan from a low-income household, I would love to dispel this myth.
Don’t get me wrong, being vegan can be very expensive, but being an omnivore can be as well. I’m no more likely to buy artisanal vegan cheese than I am to buy some fancy dairy cheese just because I’m vegan. Luckily, there are plenty of cheaper options for both vegans and omnivores alike! The only problem with living vegan on a budget is that the information on how to do so (and still eat exciting food) is a bit harder to come by. Let me be your guide to cheap vegan eating!
I’ve always been worried that this is some fault in my character, but my favorite food is yogurt. You may say that yogurt is boring, but I think that is why I like it so much. There is never a time when I don’t want to eat yogurt. The first year of my veganism was mostly great but unfortunately devoid of yogurt. First it was because I did not know that vegan yogurt existed and then, when I discovered that it did, because it carried a hefty price tag. After having splurged on it a few times in my second year of veganism, I decided that it was close enough to the dairy version that I needed to have it every once a while. I was fine with this for a while, but I stumbled upon a YouTube video last year that has rocked my vegan world since.
I don’t know why I had never thought to make yogurt myself before (big secret that capitalism doesn’t want you to know: it is almost always cheaper to make food yourself if you have access to the supplies and the time that you need to make it), but that is the radical idea that Jenny Mustard, a YouTuber and blogger, introduced me to. You can find her instructions for the original recipe on her blog, but I’m going to give you my version of the instructions and thoughts on the recipe as well.
Basically, all you need is some soy milk and a container of soy yogurt from the store. Yes, you do have to buy the pre-made stuff in order to make this but once you make your first batch, you don’t need to buy any more of the store yogurt because you can use the yogurt you’ve made as the starter next time.
To begin, you need some soy milk–I believe you could use any non-dairy milk but I’ve only ever tried it with soy so I’m not sure about that. I generally measure out the soy milk based on what container I’m going to store it in. For example, the first time I made this yogurt, I let it ferment in an empty tomato sauce jar so I’m not sure exactly how many cups that was, but you don’t need to be precise.
Heat your soy milk either on the stove or in the microwave until it is body temperature; you should be able to put your finger in it and not feel a temperature difference. Next, mix in approximately two tablespoons of the pre-made yogurt or your yogurt from the previous time you made it. It does not matter what kind of yogurt you use as long as it has live cultures in it, which you will be able to tell based on the ingredient list. I used yogurt from the brand Silk the first time I tried this.
Next, place the mixture in a container that you can seal. I usually use a jar, but it is better to use some sort of a thermos so the temperature stays more consistent. Leave the sealed container out to ferment for at least eight hours. If you want your yogurt to be more tangy than normal, you can leave it out longer. If you are not using a thermos, make sure the container is in a warm environment during that time. And that is pretty much it, yogurt magic!
If you find that it isn’t thick enough, you can strain it with a couple of stacked cheesecloths or coffee filters. Once it is has cooled in the fridge, it will also thicken up a bit. I like to add some jam into mine to make it fruit flavored but you could also add vanilla or another extract, agave, maple syrup or fruit. It should last about a week in your fridge and don’t forget to save a few spoonfuls to start your next batch!
- 2 cups soy milk
- 2 tablespoons of soy yogurt
- Optional: Jam, fruit, agave, maple syrup, any other flavoring you want