Is Being Vegan Expensive? (Here’s Why I Believe It’s Not)

There’s a common argument anti-vegans use to refute the practicality and overall positive impact of a vegan diet. “Vegan products are expensive…” they say. It’s as if vegan products only amounted to macadamia nuts and agave syrup.

I might be exaggerating but it’s like pointing out that omnivores eat too much caviar and thus their diets are outrageously expensive.

There’s no shortage of (wrong) arguments against vegans because that’s what people unwilling to embrace change do. They deny what may throw them out of their little comfy bubble, so they desperately latch on to it. (

This being said, price is a deciding factor in everything we choose in life. Pro-vegans and vegetarians will tell you that this is a cheap diet, while non-vegans will tell you a vegan diet is expensive… THE TRUTH HOWEVER IS… It can either be expensive or not! It’s really up to you.

(rant ended…)

Why Do People Say Vegan Food Is Pricey?

I’m speaking from my perspective.

In Portugal (the country where I live), when you go shopping, there’s always an isolated section in the supermarket that contains pro-health and biological products.

Among the countless products available, you can find products that have ALWAYS existed but now are strongly associated with a vegan diet. There’s agave syrup, biological nuts, more expensive brands of vegetable milk, different types of algae, gluten-free bread, and so on.

Yet… there’s also hundreds of thousands of products all across the supermarket (veggies, fruits, grains, beans, chips), and people only bring up soy burgers and mushroom pate. Those are processed foods most vegans only eat on a cheat day.

Most vegans survive mainly on beans, rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables — the cheapest ingredients on earth.

Some Things To Consider

There are a few things you need to take into consideration.

You’ll notice that you’re going to have to refill vegetables and fruits more frequently than any other thing in your cupboard.

They don’t last as long as packed goods unless you grow into the habit of freezing them. Most vegans buy vegetables and fruits 3-4 days before buying any again.

(It’s just something you’d have to get used to)

Also, it’s important that (if your goal is to save money) you invest your budget on a lot of greens, fruits, grains, beans, and invest less on processed vegan food, which is dang expensive. (i.e: vegan cheese, vegan ice creams, and so on)

A vegan diet is only expensive if you buy expensive food.

Sources Of Protein In Perspective

Jack Gusha Dumingu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A pound of ground beef in the USA costs around $4 or more (according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics), which is about 4 servings of cooked meat (about 3 ounces each).

Comparing that to black beans, you can buy approximately 1 pound of black beans for about a buck. But let’s assume you want a meat substitute, and therefore Tofu is what you would most likely eat throughout the year.

Chicken breasts sell for $5 a pound. According to the National Chicken Council, Americans ate 93 pounds of chicken per person in 2018. That’s $465 in chicken per year.

A pound of tofu, on the other hand, costs $2.50.

If you bought 93 pounds of tofu, that would amount to $232.5. It would still be cheaper!

But note that most vegans are NOT eating tofu day in and day out.

Therefore comparing the price of beans, quinoa, and lentils to that of meat is the most reasonable thing to do because that’s what most health-conscious vegans eat.

Subbing Meat & Cheese Is Not Mandatory

I’ve mentioned tofu earlier, but it’s not mandatory to buy tofu, soy, seitan or tempeh. You can get by with beans, lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, and more.

The idea behind finding substitutes for meat & cheese is sought because people have grown accustomed to those things.

And in response to that, companies act accordingly by exploiting those who miss the flavor of meat or cheese. If you ask any health-conscious vegan, he or she will tell you. Soy, tofu, seitan, and tempeh are just like any processed ingredient.

It’s not exactly good for your health.

That’s why you should pursue an authentic whole foods plant-based diet.

What About Supplements?

Some people complain about the costs of supplements.

And honestly, I don’t understand why…

You can get an entire supply of vitamin B12 and vitamin D that lasts you a whole year for less than $30. There’s no need to buy any other supplements than these two.

You can read this blog post to get a bit more in-depth info on supplements.

When Being Vegan Gets Expensive!

We’ve mentioned one thing that can make your diet more expensive: processed foods.

However, there’s also something else that can shoot up your costs.

What happens to most vegans, given their health-conscious nature, is they feel this urge to adopt a more sustainable way of living.

In the same way, you’re researching about veganism, other vegans are researching the benefits of adopting a more sustainable, organic diet.

When you’re vegan, you tend to add more to your plate than what you initially expected.

And when you dive deeper into the theory behind the food you eat and discover that the majority of the food in the supermarket is riddled with chemicals and pesticides… this might lead you down the ultra-health-foodie road.

And before you realize it, you’re buying your food at the farmer’s markets, co-ops, and Whole Foods and paying extra for organic food.

Believe me. I and my wife are vegan, and I never thought we would have a local farm deliver us a batch of organic vegetables every week. And this is something that inevitably increases the cost of our diet… even though in the long-term we know it’s super beneficial.

Going Beyond Diet

Vegans are becoming well-known for their active voice in social and environmental forums. What I initially believed to be solely about diet, morphed into something more.

We all know animal suffering doesn’t end with food. We all know people in Asia and Africa are paid unfair wages to make the clothes we wear. We all know conventional cotton farmers in India are turning to suicide because of their debts.

This is something we can’t turn a blind eye to. And this will inevitably drive your financial costs up, if eventually, you decide to invest in other solutions other than the ones that are very convenient to you… but deadly to others.

That doesn’t mean you have to change everything immediately, too. But choosing options that are less convenient to you, once or twice a month already makes a big difference.

Here’s a resource you can check if you’re on the fence about going vegan:

The 30-Day Vegan Challenge.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about veganism! 🙂

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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