In reply to: I cannot afford to be vegan; it is too expensive
Some have claimed that going vegan is expensive and, for some, unaffordable. The implication is that eating a vegan diet is a luxury that only the affluent can afford.
Vegan diets are usually less expensive.
If you continue eating the same amount of fruit and greens but replace your meat with staples such as potatoes, beans, rice, oats, and corn, then it's hard to see how you would spend more.
Mayo Clinic considers lower costs to be one of the benefits of meatless meals. In stating that meatless meals are budget friendly and can be used to save money, they add that some plant-based proteins "tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits than meat."
Registered dietitian Ginny Messina confirms, "replacing the meat, dairy, and eggs in diets with lower cost foods like grains, beans and tofu isn’t just frugal, it’s much more healthful."
Research bears this out. A study published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition concludes that even an economic version of a government-recommended meal plan costs $745 more per year than a plant-based meal plan and provides "fewer servings of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains."
Many foods cost the same.
You may be surprised to find that many common foods in the grocery store are already vegan and, consequently, your costs for these items won't go up.
These include everything in the produce department, all bulk items (except jerky), most cereals, most breads, all grains and beans, most canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, most condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles, relish, and sauces, and virtually all spices.
Vegan specialty foods are optional.
Some vegan items, such as burger patties and mayonnaise, are no more expensive. Vegan milks cost no more than organic, hormone-free cow's milk. Vegan cheeses and meats can be more expensive but are becoming less expensive as demand increases.
Prepared foods will almost always cost more, vegan or not, and many of these foods you can make yourself for considerably less.
All of these processed foods are optional—you can choose to just leave them off the menu.
Your medical bills may decrease.
A study published by the National Academy of Sciences calculates a health-care savings of over $1,067 billion annually with a vegan diet. That's over $3,000 for each person in the United States. The savings are a result of less medical care needed because medical problems are less likely on a vegan diet.
Consider the cost to animals.
We are often willing to pay more for convenience. We are often willing to pay more for items that have a smaller carbon footprint. We are often willing to pay more for designer items.
Eating vegan is not more expensive. But even if it were, shouldn't we be willing to pay more for items that don't support, directly or indirectly, the breeding, enslavement, mutilation, and slaughter of sentient beings who have lives that are as important to them as our lives are to us?
Here are some tips for saving on groceries.
Here are a few tips for saving on your grocery bill:
- Buy in bulk and at farmer's markets.
- Shop seasonally.
- Buy vegetables frozen, since they often cost less and are just as healthy.
- Compare prices. A pound of green peas costs around $1.30 at Walmart, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods Market. The same pound of peas can be as high as $3.00 at other grocery stores.
- Limit specialty foods, such as vegan meats and cheeses. They are unnecessary. While they may be more healthy than animal-based meats and cheeses, they are not as healthy as whole foods.
- “It’s Time to Try Meatless Meals.” Mayo Clinic, July 26, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/meatless-meals/art-20048193
- Messina, Ginny. “The High Cost of Ethical Eating.” The Vegan RD, January 20, 2010. http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/01/the-high-cost-of-ethical-eating/
- Flynn, Mary M., and Andrew R. Schiff. “Economical Healthy Diets (2012): Including Lean Animal Protein Costs More Than Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil.” Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition 10, no. 4 (October 2, 2015): 467–82. doi:10.1080/19320248.2015.1045675
- Springmann, Marco, H. Charles J. Godfray, Mike Rayner, and Peter Scarborough. “Analysis and Valuation of the Health and Climate Change Co-benefits of Dietary Change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, no. 15 (April 12, 2016): 4146–51. doi:10.1073/pnas.1523119113
This article was originally authored by Greg Fuller and copyedited by Isaac Nickerson. The contents may have been edited since that time by others.