A vegan, or plant-based diet, has been shown to provide the best health benefits as compared to a standard American diet. However, when considering making the switch many people are concerned that a vegan diet is more expensive. In this blog, I will review how to follow a healthy vegan diet that won’t break the bank.
Is A Vegan Diet Expensive?
A vegan, or plant-based diet, can be more expensive if you’re eating processed and packaged vegan alternative foods. These foods are a great option when you are short on time but they will stress your budget a little more than a whole food diet.
Some of the convenience foods that people love to eat while eating a vegan diet that can cast more include:
These imitation meats are made from a variety of plant sources. Some are more highly processed than others and some are considered healthier than others. Some of my favourite brands include Gardein®, Beyond Meat®, Yves® and more. These imitation meats are a great way to make the transition from an animal based diet to a plant-based diet while still eating foods that will taste like meat.
Like meat products, these foods are going to be more expensive. However, keep on mind that meat products are highly subsidized by the government to make them more affordable for people to buy. If you factor in the true cost of meat and the amount of your tax dollars that go to subsidies these products then these plant-based meats are more affordable.
Condiments such as vegan mayo and salad dressings can be more expensive than the egg and dairy varieties. However, these foods are best consumed in small amounts. As will meat, the ingredients used in the animal based products are subsidized by the government making them seem more affordable. In the long run the vegan varieties will be less expensive.
Energy & Protein Bars
Energy and protein bars are a great grab and go snack but they will cost more than a piece of fruit. The vegan and non-vegan options tend to be about the same price and will drive any budget up if consumed on a regular basis.
Eating out in general is more expensive than eating at home. However, it does seem that eating out in vegan restaurants, or places that serve vegan options, will be more expensive. Since the demand is still growing, there is usually a higher price tag attached to vegan convenience foods due to the higher price of the ingredients used are not subsidized by the government.
Like any speciality baked goods, vegan baking seems to be little more expensive. However, this depends on what you’re buying. Some cookies and cakes may be a little more expensive based on the higher quality ingredients that are used. Again, if you want to keep your budget low reduce your intake of these foods.
How To Eat Vegan On The Cheap
If keeping a tight budget is something you desire but you still want to eat a vegan, plant based diet, don’t fret! It can be done on the cheap by focusing on buying only whole foods.
The top whole foods to buy include:
Fruits and veggies
If you want to be a healthy vegan, the majority of your diet should be made up of fresh fruits and veggies. To eat these foods on the cheap, focus on purchasing fruits and veggies that are produced local and in season. For example, in the fall and winter you’ll want to choose fruits and veggies that are in season such as apples, pears, root vegetables and squash.
Legumes include beans, lentils and peas and are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. They are loaded with protein, some, like soy are even complete proteins, they’re full of fibre and have numerous health benefits such as supporting a healthy heart and digestion. Dried legumes are the cheapest but take more time to soak and cook before eating. However, can be purchased for literally pennies a day. Canned beans are also pretty cheap as you can often find them on sale. I suggest choosing an organic canned variety to reduce exposure to chemical toxins.
Whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, millet, barley, quinoa (which is considered a pseudo grain as it has the properties of a whole grain and a seed) and more are rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Whole grains can be purchased in bulk for a fraction of the cost of packaged processed vegan alternative foods.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are important foods to add to the diet because they are rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. For maximum health benefits you will want to purchase the raw unsalted version of these foods. Nuts are often more expensive than seeds. To reduce cost, I suggest purchasing these items in bulk through companies like Costco® or Rancho Vignola®.
There you have it! Eating vegan, plant based food does not have to be expensive if you’re smart about what you buy. The great thing is that the less expensive items are also healthier for you. So you will not only be saving money but have a healthy body as well when choosing to eat these foods.
Learn how to add many of these foods in your diet in an easy way with the 30-Day Salad Challenge & Recipe Book. Available now!
Until next time,
Wishing you healthy abundance. Namaste my friends!
Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA
Health & Wellness Coach