When it comes to diets, there is a surprising amount of tribalism. My diets bigger/better than your diet arguments, often fuelled by misinformation and sometimes outright falsehoods. Veganism is no exception to this.
A common argument against veganism is that it is too expensive. However, this argument holds little water. India has the most vegetarians in the world, and also has some of the poorest people. It is obvious that it is possible to follow a vegan diet without breaking the bank. In fact, it should easily be possible to save money on a vegan diet!
Reasons Why Vegan Diets Can Be Expensive
While the purpose of this article is to prove to you that vegan diets are not expensive, we can’t ignore the fact that they sometimes can be. But there are reasons for this, and you can definitely avoid them.
Reason #1 Going Organic
At some point in the last fifty years people started to believe that eating organic was not only healthier for you, but was also better for the environment. These beliefs are not exactly true or untrue, as with many things, the truth is quite complicated.
Theoretically, it would be more environmentally sensible if people ate food that they had grown themselves. There would be no need for lorries, planes, boats, etc … You would just pick your own vegetables and fruit and walk home with them. A tiny carbon footprint.
But this oversimplifies things. The fact is that large scale commercial farming creates more fruit and vegetables in a field than local farming. Which can take up a lot of space. As much as 84% more land than regular farming .
This means that more deforestation would need to occur to create the same amount of food, but it also means that organic food tends to cost more than regular. Quite a lot more.
If you are going vegan for ethical reasons, then going organic seems like an obvious move. But the evidence that organic food is better for the environment is not quite there. It could be argued that as the global population increases, organic farming could actually be bad for the environment as more and more land is required to grow it.
If you are going vegan for health reasons, then again, there is not enough evidence that organic food is healthier.
At the end of the day, you could save yourself a lot of money over the years by buying normal fruit and vegetables. Doing so does not appear to make much difference to your health nor does it affect the environment any more than organic food does.
Reason #2 Eating Out
At this moment in time, veganism has never been more popular, yet it is still a minority diet choice in most of the world. Which means that it can be expensive to eat out in restaurants or pubs.
This shouldn’t be the case, as meat is by far the most expensive ingredient for any meal. But the problem is that vegan food has to be made separately from other foods. You can’t use butter, cheese, eggs etc … and to make many meals you would need a vegan substitute (i.e. vegan cheese).
That means that eating out as a vegan is often going to cost more than it would for a non-vegan. This is particularly true when it comes to fast food.
Luckily, things are changing, and it could well be cheaper to eat out as a vegan in the future.
Reason #3 Substitute Ingredients
We touched on this in the last point. Often, to recreate a non-vegan meal you would need to 1) make it yourself, and 2) find a lot of complicated ingredients. Want to make a cake? You are going to need to find ingredients that can replace cream, milk, eggs, honey, butter or whatever else is going into the cake.
A non-vegan could just buy a cake with the change in their pocket, but if you want the same thing you’re going to have to get baking. This can be a blessing in disguise, and is one of the biggest reasons why people lose weight when they become vegan. Less easy access to fast food!
Reasons Why Vegan Diets Can Be Inexpensive
So far in this article about why being vegan is not expensive we have only managed to talk about the reasons why it is! So let’s redress the balance and talk about why you should be able to save money by going vegan.
Reason #1 No Meat
If you are not vegan, you probably haven’t really thought about how much of your shopping bill comes from the meat that you buy. 200g of sirloin steak can cost the best part of a tenner! While a free-range large chicken can cost even more.
Sure, those are a couple of pricey examples, but even a pack of beef mince is going to cost you more than any vegan equivalent. Cutting meat out of your diet could save you a fortune over the course of a year.
Reason #2 Less Variety
While this isn’t necessarily a good thing (see the above section as to why), a lack of options can stop you from impulse purchasing food. No post-pub kebab, no cakes in the office when it is Jenny’s birthday, no large bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk when you pop into the newsagents.
Sure, there are vegan alternatives out there, but not everywhere is selling them. The vegan option in many kebab shops would be a few cucumbers and some lettuce. There are vegan-friendly chocolates and baked goods, but they aren’t as easy to find.
Making it that little bit more difficult to impulse eat can stop you from doing it. Meaning that you will save money and also it can help you if you are on a diet.
Reason #3 Many Vegan Cooking Staples Cost Pennies
Lentils, chickpeas, beans, fruit, vegetables. All of these foods make up a large part of the vegan diet. They are all ridiculously cheap! Even vegan meat-alternatives are cheaper to buy than meat. You can get soy mince for half the price of regular mince. Veggie burgers are often much cheaper than beef burgers.
You can batch cook yourself some vegan curries for almost nothing, with a sweet potato being your largest expense! Sure, you’re going to need to learn some skills in the kitchen, but it will be well worth it when you’re examining your bank balance at the end of the month!
People don’t go vegan to save money, they often do it for legitimate ethical reasons, or for perceived health benefits. Saving money is just an added bonus. A cherry on top of the vegan-cake.
But if you really want to become vegan, don’t let the idea that it is expensive put you off. It really isn’t. As with anything, you can make it expensive by only purchasing expensive ingredients, eating out in fancy restaurants, and spending a fortune on agave nectar to replace honey.
But regular vegans don’t do that, at least they don’t do it often. They eat delicious healthy foods, and save a fortune on not buying meat.