Is a Vegan Diet Cheaper?

There are lots of reasons to choose a plant-based diet: it’s kinder to animals, it’s healing, it’s better for our planet, and– perhaps more importantly for those on the fence of flexitarianism– it can be much cheaper than an omnivorous diet.

This simple graphic (from 2010) breaks down some typical meals for meat-eaters, pescetarian, vegetarians, and vegans, and shows how a vegan meal plan can be less expensive than a meat-based diet.

vegan food

While the above chart might be criticized for being outdated, there is still evidence showing that animal-based foods are higher in cost than plant-based foods. A recently released study from the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition suggests that a plant-based diet could lead to savings of nearly $750 a year for an average cost of a 2,000-calorie diet following the federal MyPlate nutrition guidelines. “Not only was the meatless diet cheaper than eating meat, but it provided more of the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are generally considered to be integral to a healthy diet,” explains Willy Blackmore of TakePart.

And, more good news for plant-based diets: the cost of animal foods will rise across the board this year. While all food prices are expected to rise in 2016, meats will be rising at almost double the rate of other foods according to this report. While it’s hard to pinpoint numbers exactly due to regional price fluctuations, these studies to help dispel the myth that vegan diets (or healthy diets generally) are expensive.

There are so many reasons why a vegan diet is cheaper: the staple foods of a plant-based diet include beans, grains, fruits and vegetables, all of which can be found cheaply with some simple tricks. Beans and lentils are some of the cheapest foods in the world and give you a lot of “bang for your buck” in terms of cost per calorie. Found in bulk or online from, whole grains also offer a range of nutritional benefits, and an abundance of cheap calories, especially when purchased in bulk.

The No-Meat Athlete has a bunch of great suggestions for eating vegan on the cheap too, including building meals around a “grain, a green, a bean”; avoiding tofu because of the high cost; shopping in the frozen food section; and avoiding nuts, since they tend to be very expensive. Care2 features recipes from Plant-Based on a Budget, a blog with inexpensive and delicious vegan foods. And if you need some more inspiration, there is even a Pinterest board dedicated to cheap vegan meals.

A vegan diet can of course become more expensive depending on your habits. Choosing the best organic coconut milk ice cream (guilty) and meat analogs (fake meat) for a lot of your meals can drain your veggie budget pretty quickly. Focusing on fresh produce, bulk grains and beans, and pantry staples will keep your belly full and your food budget under control.

 

Related:

Being a Vegan is Really Hard Sometimes
6 Tips for Eating Vegan on a Budget
7 Ways to Make the Most of your Greens

81 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Ba H.
Ba Habout a year ago

why would you even post such a skewed chart? everyone has choices they can make for a less expensive meal

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Christie C.
Christie Cabout a year ago

Buying seasonal produce saves so much money and it tastes better. This time of year, we rely a lot on food that we canned or stored in the freezer from last spring and fall. We also shop a lot of bulk foods like oats, flour and dried fruits online, where we get some screaming deals.

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Annabelle T.
Annabelle Tabout a year ago

Some vegan foods are cheap but as I also have food allergies and need to buy special products, some of what I buy is quite expensive. Cost didn't really enter my mind when choosing to become vegan though - I did it for the animals!

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Ryan S.
Yan Yanabout a year ago

Thank you for taking the time on sharing this Ms. Andrea Bertoli, especially the useful hyperlinks at the end of the article. I appreciate it. :-)

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Janis K.
Janis Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

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Marc P.
Marc Pabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

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Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago

Thanks

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Donna T.
Donna Tabout a year ago

thank you

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Janis K.
Janis Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

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