You’ve heard it before, “a vegan diet is just too expensive!” While there’s some truth that shopping at Whole Foods can cost whole paychecks, the concerns surrounding the rising cost of animal-based foods, and the health benefits of a plant-based diet, makes the conversation about food cost a complicated one.
To start off, let’s look at some facts.
According to a 2014 article from the Wall Street Journal “meat prices are up 9.4% in June from a year earlier, and pork, fish, and eggs are more expensive, too.”
In addition, the USDA reported that in December of 2014:
- The price of eggs increased 7.7% over the previous month
- Dairy products were up 5.3% from the previous December
- Both eggs and dairy prices are predicted to increase 2.5-3.5% in 2015
It’s clear that food costs are on the rise, and animal-based foods don’t automatically equal cheaper. However, it doesn’t mean that a vegan diet is naturally less expensive. For this reason, strategy is the name of the game.
For help, let’s turn to some experts.
One guy fighting the good fight for veggie advocacy is Matt Frazier, author of the book No Meat Athlete.
Matt’s article The No-Nonsense Guide to Eating Healthy and Vegan Without Going Broke is chalk full of tips for eating plant-based on the cheap. Our favorites included:
- Skip the packaged and processed stuff
- Choose meals based on grains or beans
- Buy in bulk
- Hold off on the pricey nuts – while trying to save
Think Outside the Cart
Ashley Marcin wrote a great piece about shopping smart for the folks over at WiseBread.com, 25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List.
A lot of Ashley’s advice came in the form of planning ahead. This included making sure you head to the store with a shopping list and are open to visiting multiple stores in order to find the best deals and selections. To help out, she provides readers with a pre-made shopping list to get people started.
The savings doesn’t stop at the store either. Two tips that can be game changers are learning new skills and making foods from scratch. Canning excess veggies from your garden is an easy skill to learn and can save you money over time. Likewise, making pizza dough from scratch with a bulk buy of flour vs. a store-bought pre-made can save some dollars.
Focus on the Dirty
Though buying organic produce is a benefit to both people and planet, when money needs to be saved, try focusing on buying organic only when purchasing the Dirty Dozen. Produced by the Environmental Working Group, this list of “dirty” produce includes:
…apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.
To give you a better sense of just how dirty some of these guys are:
A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.
Through cutting out processed foods, shopping in bulk, planning ahead and splurging wisely, eating plant-based becomes the most cost-effective, health-effective choice you can make!