But…It’s Expensive To Be Vegan, Isn’t It?

Vegetables from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 Daniel Cukier, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

An excuse I often read for not being vegan is that it’s too expensive.

The first and, to me, obvious response to this is, as with lots of these excuses, is that it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as with a meat and dairy based diet – it’s as expensive as you make it. If you buy all your meat and dairy from the ‘value’ sections in supermarkets – it’s cheap. If you buy it from Fortnum & Masons – it’s expensive.

There are a LOT of excuses people use for not being 100% plant-based. Though none of them are valid (unless you are a lion or tiger, or you really DO live on some barren desert island where no plants grow!), I understand where lots of them come from and can feel compassion for people who, for example, truly believe they need milk for strong bones. We are fed so much erroneous information by so many seemingly authoritative parties; it can be difficult to find the truth.

As far as veganism being expensive goes? This belief I find harder to understand. You only have to be a frequent supermarket shopper (and quite frankly, who isn’t?) to see that this is not the case. In fact, it can be exactly the opposite.


Fresh Produce

You were gonna buy some of this anyway right? Even if you eat animal products, you eat some veg and fruit, so you are already aware of the prices of these. And if your budget is not the fattest, you really don’t have to buy organic. Read my post on organics to learn how to navigate the organic sections cost-effectively.

Even Asda and Lidls (UK), and Walmart (US) sell fresh produce at very competitive prices, and markets often charge rock bottom dollar, so there is no reason not to stock up on these whatever the budget.

Don’t forget, you can always buy frozen fruit and veg in bulk and stock up your freezer. Nutrient wise frozen can be even healthier than fresh produce, as it’s frozen immediately after being harvested, so the vitamins and minerals are better preserved.


Dried Goods

Wholegrain rice, pasta, lentils and beans are available in all supermarkets, and own brands are insanely cheap. If you are not ready to go wholegrain – white rices and pastas are even cheaper. Quinoa can be pricey, but I’m currently buying a supermarket own brand, which is absolutely fine.

Most Whole Foods in the US sell dried goods in bulk bins that you can purchase by weight. There are some health food shops in the UK that also offer this. It works out to be incredibly cost-effective, as you can buy it as you need it, if cash flow is an issue.


Cow’s Milk Alternatives

These are perhaps slightly more expensive than dairy milk. This is because dairy farms are often subsidised by the government. Soy or almond milk producers are not. But you may find that as you lose the taste for that creamy, mucous’y’ texture in or on everything, you don’t end up using as much plant milk as you did dairy milk. I find water is great on my muesli, as it ends up looking and tasting like oat milk anyway, so you may just need plant milk for cooking or baking. Again, supermarkets will do an own brand organic soy milk.


Sweets (Cakes, Cookies etc.)

Make your own! Or just buy pre-prepared ones occasionally as a special treat.


Treats (Chocolate etc.)

I’m gonna focus on chocolate, because, well, you know. There is plenty of cheap, amazing vegan chocolate. M&S do a creamy dark chocolate bar for around 65p. Starbucks dark chocolate is my preferred yummy treat, at the hefty price of £1 per bar!!


Meat Alternatives

These may be dear, but you don’t need these, Why are you even reading this section?

If you are transitioning and are craving the ‘meaty’ texture, then buy meat alternatives sparingly, a couple of times a week, say. Or grill a portobello mushroom and have a portobello burger!


Nuts And Seeds

These can be expensive, but again, supermarket own brands can save the day. You can totally get your omegas without breaking the bank.


The last time I looked, meat was VERY expensive. Assuming you don’t want to eat horsemeat, or the scrapings off the abattoir floor, you will be paying lots more for animal meat products than plant food. These are the typical prices for beef from Tesco (I picked Tesco because it’s an average medium to low budget supermarket). And these are the prices for chicken. I think we can all agree that these are the two most commonly consumed meat products.

How can anyone say that comparatively plant food is more expensive?

You can get 500g of organic brown rice for around £1.60. For a couple, say, you’d use this three or four times, and it has a long expiry date on it, so you can use it whenever. Stir fry some veg (if the veg is frozen this can also last a long time), with ginger and garlic, add some soy sauce, and your highly nutritious meal cost peanuts! Oooh – you can add peanuts too!

Trust me – while I absolutely feel abundant, my resources are currently limited (did you see how I tried to make my point with a positive spin there? Haha).  What I’m saying is, if being vegan wasn’t an economical way to eat, I definitely couldn’t sustain it.

The truth is, unless you are buying coconut milk ice cream and kale chips every day, you will more likely than not SAVE money as a vegan.


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