When switching from an omnivorous diet to a vegan diet, you may feel as though you are spending more money at the grocery store than you used to.
There are several reasons to go vegan, however, it may seem a lot more daunting of a task if you need to rearrange your entire food budget. So let’s find out why is vegan food so expensive? Maybe more importantly, how to go vegan for less!
Vegan food is only more expensive if you are purchasing vegan meat and dairy alternatives as they are currently niche items instead of mass-produced options.
The truth is, while there are several reasons why new vegans are spending more, and we are going to talk about these points shortly, a vegan diet does not have to be more expensive than any other diet, as long as you are conscientious about what you are buying and where you are getting it from.
In this article, we are going to learn a little more about which vegan foods are more expensive, and why, and how to cut down your food spending while staying vegan!
Why Are Vegan Options More Expensive?
Veganism is becoming more and more popular by the day, and whether you have elected to eat a vegan diet for the animals, the environment, your own health, or a variety of other possible objectives, you may have noticed that the food seems to be more expensive.
At this point in time, even though many people are turning vegan, we are still not the majority, therefore, vegan alternatives are not in as high of demand and consequently are not mass-produced, making them slightly more expensive than their meat and dairy counterparts.
It is also important to understand that meat and dairy production is also subsidized, meaning that the US government spends billions of dollars every year to ensure that production can not only continue but that the prices will stay consistently low for their citizens. Vegan products do not benefit from any government assistance, and therefore they cannot offer consistently low prices.
For example, a block of cheddar cheese will most likely cost around $2, while a block of vegan cheese can be as pricey as $6. And the same goes for several other vegan options such as plant and nut milk or meat alternatives.
The good news is, as vegan demand increases, supply can also increase which will lead to cheaper options in the near future! Essentially, the more people go vegan, the cheaper the products will become!
How to Eat Vegan on a Budget
Here is the simple truth: eating vegan does not have to be more expensive than an omnivorous diet. It just requires a little more planning.
Pre-cooked or processed foods have become a staple part of the American diet. As a culture, we like to prepare foods quickly, and often opt for ready-made foods that are easy to grab from the fridge, freezer, or even the pantry which will be cooked in minutes.
If you continue to choose these products and only switch to the vegan options, you will certainly end up spending more money at the grocery store.
However, if you are ready to truly change your diet to contain more whole foods, you will be able to eat an entirely vegan diet for next to nothing, and it’s not nearly as hard as you might think! We have even created a list of 5 simple switches you can make in your weekly shop to make it happen!
Buy In Bulk
Dry goods are always less expensive than processed foods. While almost every grocery store will have some bulk items, there are certain companies that have a designated section where you can fill your own bags or containers, making your purchases more sustainable as well!
Legumes, including beans and lentils, as well as most grains, such as oats, quinoa, rice, polenta, couscous, and a variety of others, can all be found in bulk and they will essentially last forever!
Learn How to Make the Basics
We cannot reiterate this enough: processed foods are far more expensive than whole foods. So when it comes to your favorite foods like hummus, dips, dressings, sauces, burgers, soups, desserts, and oh so much more, if you can learn to make them, you will save a fortune!
Of course, this will require a little extra time in the kitchen, but one day of cooking can go a long way, everything you make can be refrigerated or frozen to be enjoyed later on in the week.
Our recommendation is to get a few cookbooks. Or you can use your social media addiction to your advantage, there are Instagram vegan chefs who post simple recipes every single day!
While this tactic goes hand in hand with learning to cook delicious vegan meals and snacks for yourself, we feel it deserves its own section because it truly is essential to eating and enjoying a budget-friendly and healthy vegan diet.
There are simply fewer options for vegans when in a rush. Many take-out or fast-food restaurants and even the grab-and-go section of the grocery store only offer omnivorous options, and if they do have a vegan selection, it is likely to be more expensive and less satisfying.
The solution is to plan ahead. Make sure you bring snacks with you wherever you go, pack a lunch for outings or a day running errands, or if you know you are going to have a particularly long day, prepare your dinner the night before.
It may sound like a lot of work, but your bank account and your belly will seriously thank you.
Skip the Specialty Stores
When you first start purchasing vegan food, you may think you will benefit from shopping at specialty stores, but unfortunately, they tend to be much more expensive than standard grocery stores.
If you are making the change and buying your vegan food as it comes from the earth, i.e. vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and beans, for example, you can find the same selection at a more reasonably priced store!
Of course, if you are looking for something specific, you may need to make a special trip, but you should really be buying the majority of your weekly grocery shop elsewhere.
Why is vegan food so expensive? Well, it is a combination of a lack of subsidiary funding, a lower demand, and the fact that processed vegan foods are considered specialty items.
However, we hope that you now understand that vegan food does not have to be expensive! In fact, it really is only the processed options that have a break-the-bank price tag! If you follow the tactics and solutions laid out in this article, you can eat a completely vegan diet for a fraction of what you paid before.
If you think about it, meat, cheese, and junk foods are often much more expensive than fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, so if you can plan ahead, buy a good cookbook, shop in bulk, and refrain from purchasing specialty items or meat and dairy alternatives, you will actually save money going vegan!