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Is Being Vegan Expensive? Vegans Reveal Costs + How to Budget

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One of the many things people assume of veganism is that it is expensive or more costly than a regular Western Diet. I wonder if the people who started this myth envision vegans buying chopped mango at Whole Foods and drinking fancy almond lattes every morning.

The truth is, being vegan is not inherently expensive.  At four or more dollars per pound, meat is one of the most expensive items in the grocery store. Replacing it with cooked organic beans would cost only a dollar per pound, and replacing it with tempeh or tofu would cost $2 – $2.50 per pound.

While some vegan versions of meat and dairy products can be more expensive, most vegans survive mainly on beans, rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables–the cheapest ingredients on earth.

When does veganism get expensive?

Being vegan doesn’t have to be more expensive, but it can be.

I’ve been guilty of wandering around the grocery store in awe of all the new vegan options we are lucky to find today. But I’ve also been guilty of paying $100 worth of cheeses, spreads, and nut butters.

If you do the math, there’s no reason eating vegetarian or vegan should be more expensive than eating meat. But being vegan can lead your down to ultra-health-foodie town.

Before you know it you can end up shopping at farmers’ markets, co-ops, and Whole Foods and paying $10 for organic blueberries.

When first starting your vegan journey, you won’t be satisfied to just replace meat with beans.  You’ll inevitably want to explore new options, try all the exotic superfoods you learn about, and enjoy how the food that is good for you, can actually be delicious. You might also learn more about food and get more selective about what you buy.

That’s part of the fun, and by any means should be stopped.  But if you were to explore the same way as an omnivorous, it’d be as much or more expensive. 

How to keep your vegan groceries cheap?

is being vegan expensive

1. Be mindful of where you shop

I get, Whole Foods it’s fun. I’d 10/10 would choose to go there rather than going to a clothes store.  It is also really, really expensive compared to other stores.

If you are looking to save, it is definitely not the place to be. Instead, check out “normal” grocery stores.  Many of them now have organic store brands that cost only slightly more than non-organic products.

2. Don’t buy everything organic.

If you are vegan or considering it, you probably also care about what you put in your body. The good news is, not paying for meat means you can afford to buy organic veggies.

But if you’re looking to save some bucks, realize that you don’t have to buy everything organic. Read the list of least contaminated foods and don’t spend any extra cash on the organic version of those. 

 3. Cook One-Dish Wonders

When you first start cooking vegan you will notice one thing. Vegans don’t really do side dishes.

Without meat or cheese to supply lots of protein and fat without carbohydrates, there isn’t any need to balance that with a carb on the side.

So instead of making two or three different dishes for dinner, it’s easier to do one-dish meals: pastas, stir-fries, gigantic salads, smoothies, a grain, a green, and a bean all in one pot.

It might seem less exciting or sophisticated but it is definitely simple and efficient.

4. Grow your own herbs.

This is not for everyone but if you feel called to, this tip alone can save you hundreds of dollars per year.

  For a single bunch of herbs, you’ll pay close to what it costs for an already-started plant that you can put on your windowsill or porch and harvest again and again as needed.

5. You don’t NEED mock meats and cheeses.

For those who enjoy the texture of meat and cheese in their diet, mock animal products are nice to include. However, these foods aren’t a MUST for your diet. You can enjoy a healthy, protein-rich diet without expensive mock meats or cheeses.

Is Vegan Protein Powder more expensive?

If one thing is common to protein powder is its inconsistency. If you want quality, you’re going to have to pay for it regardless of the type of protein.

You can find both cheap plant protein and whey protein, but it won’t provide you with the results you’re looking for and deserve. Whey does tend to run cheaper, though.

These days, plant-based proteins are readily available from all sorts of sources and combinations: soy, peas, nuts, hemp, brown rice, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.

There is still limited research on the effects of plant-based protein supplements, but the data that is available finds no significant difference between whey and some of the better plant-based sources.

A 2019 study compared the weightlifting feats of two groups of people over an 8 week period. One group stuck to whey protein, while the other tried pea protein.

The study concluded that “whey and pea proteins promote similar strength, performance, body composition, and muscular adaptations.” Meaning: Your performance won’t suffer by moving from whey to pea protein.

Do I need to spend money on Vegan Supplements?

With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegetarian and vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy without the need for supplements.

However, there are some essential vitamins which, not only vegans but all the population struggle to get.

  • A recent study shows that 42% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. 
  • A medical paper published by Nutritional Strategies Inc stated that US adults are not meeting recommended levels of omega-3 fatty acids and may need to consider supplementation to help meet recommendations. 
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency has hit 40% of our population proving a concern.

Supplementation may be needed if you find that your particular diet is lacking in certain nutrients. B12 supplementation is a must if you don’t drink a lot of fortified soya milk for example or eat fortified cereals.

For Omega 3, two tablespoons of canola oil a day would give you enough 3 at a cheap cost and for Vitamin D, doctors recommend getting at least 20 min of sun exposure a day.

While technically, you would only need a B12 supplement, I rather go for a supplement that has the three of them. To be honest, I rather not drink canola oil and every day, and depending on where you live, 20 mins of sun exposure might not be available year long.


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Finding an Affordable Vegan Diet That Works for You

As with being any type of eating you follow, your personal and affordable version of a vegan diet is going to be unique. We all like different foods, have access to different stores and have different sets of priorities as far as time, money, and fitness.

There are millions of ways to eat vegan. If you are new to it don’t expect to do a perfect grocery trip or meal prep the first week. Like anything, it takes time and trial-error to perfect. So don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your diet to make it the most efficient and satisfying for you.

Recommended: The Last Vegan Grocery List You’ll Ever Need

Is Being Vegan Expensive? Takeaway

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Is it cheaper to be vegan than to eat meat? 

It depends on what foods replace meat in your diet. If you replace meat with beans and other cheap whole foods, being vegan is cheaper. If you replace meat with high-end specialty vegan products, then eating meat may be cheaper.

Recommended: What is vegan meat made of?

How much does eating a vegan diet cost monthly? 

My grocery bill is about $250 per month to feed myself. But that’s just one example. Again, you can spend much more (or less) depending on the foods you eat.

A Vegan Diet Can Mean Life-Long Savings

If we look at the bigger picture, a vegan diet can save you thousands of dollars. Once animal products have been eliminated from the menu, the chances of getting a disease are significantly decreased. Your health is priceless. Yet if we look at the cost of health care and insurance, prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, doctor visits, and hospital stays, an omnivorous diet is the most expensive lifestyle around. The money we spend on the healthiest food possible is an investment in our future health that will pay off down the road.

Vegan products will continue to get cheaper

The amount of vegan alternatives that have appeared in the last 5 years is only a glimpse of what the vegan market will become. As Veganism continues to grow more brands jump into the market, and with more competition, come better prices. The future is bright for the pantries and wallets of vegans.

So now I ask, what are your favorite money-saving tips? What about your splurge-worthy products?

Let us in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

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