I have found over the years that one of the things that scares people about vegan and vegetarian food is a perceived high cost. For the most part I always tell people that is a misconception. You can make a nice balanced meal with beans, grains and veggies for a very affordable price. It’s certainly cheaper to make a good vegetarian meal then to make a meal with meat or fish. So what’s the reason I’m telling you this today? Well I have been looking forward to the opening of a vegan/raw take-out restaurant to open in the building where I work, the Chelsea Market. I saw the sign for a while saying “One Lucky Ducky” coming soon, but no sign of the restaurant itself. Then I read a couple months ago that it opened and closed quickly and was restructuring. Now a co-worker came up today and told me it was open again and that she browsed around and was blown away by how expensive everything was there. Her first comment to me was “can you believe they have a small container of orange juice for $7?” Then she said she said a small portion of lasagna for $19!!!! She said the portion was so small it wouldn’t even fill you up. Well I, of course, has to see all this for myself. So I went down and sure enough I realized she was right. One of the first thing I noticed is a salad with falafel for $16. You can get a great pita with falafel at Ruthy’s just a few stores away for $4.95 so why would someone spend $16? I understand wanting high quality, but there is no way a salad with falafel should cost $16 in a refrigerated case. The cheaper salads like a taco themed one were $12, still no bargain when you can make your own salad at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange just a few steps away for like $5.99 a pound or at Hale and Hearty starting at $5 plus extras. I have talked before on this blog about the $4 cupcake bothering me at Chelsea Market’s Eleni’s. I must say One Lucky Ducky takes the cake (pun intended) with a $6 Mallomar. I mean the problem is you are pricing out anyone who isn’t rich, hence making it seem like going meat-free is only for the elite. When you see things like that you know why obesity is higher in poorer areas because they’ve bought into the notion that they can’t eat well for a low price. I WILL REITERATE “YES YOU CAN”. Here’s an example: a can of white beans is like 75 cents, a box of whole wheat pasta about $1.50, box of frozen spinach (cheaper than fresh) is about $2, a couple tablespoons of olive oil is under 50 cents, a squeeze of lemon juice to add to the olive oil also under 50 cents and some salt (fractional cost). So there you go for about $5-$5.50 you’ve got a balanced meal for your whole family. I challenge you to make a meat dish for that same cost. I also challenge restaurants like “One Lucky Ducky” to bring your prices down so you can bring your food to the masses!