In this post, I would like to combine two of my passions. Personal finance and vegan lifestyle. Ultimately, I hope to answer one of the most common questions I get asked when I share the fact I am vegan. How much does it cost to be vegan and why are vegan products so expensive? More importantly, I plan to write how to address those issues, and how a vegan on a budget should react. So let’s get down to it. But, before I let you in on the dirty details, here are a few warning signs. If you are a millionaire vegan who doesn’t care much about your finances, this post probably isn’t for you. Not a vegan, but have tried to switch your diet in the past (and failed) this post is for you. Do you think that being vegan is expensive? This post is for you. Especially if you are not vegan and you work out. I remember having all those questions, will I lose weight, will it cost a fortune…
How can I be a vegan on a budget?
In most cases, vegans can save money just like anybody else! Including getting out of debt! Never lose sight of this fact. So as much as I will mention some ways how vegans can save money, I will also mention some practices that vegans, in particular, should practice and share with everybody else. That is why both questions “is it expensive to be vegan” and “how much does it cost to be a vegan” are extremely relative. Sure, it could be ridiculously expensive, but it can be insanely cheap at the same time. One thing is for sure, it doesn’t have to be expensive!
Certainly, you have to be practical and you have to take into account where you live. Being a vegan on a budget in California is not the same as being a vegan on a budget in South America or Eastern Europe. I remember when I was staying in California for 4 months, I can tell you it took some time getting used to the prices there. Everything else being the same, if you just made the switch I would say it is about the same. But if you made a conscious effort to save money by switching to veganism, you could do that as well.
Why are vegan products so expensive?
If you think vegan products are expensive, you are looking at the wrong place. For example, an imported organic vegan ready-made sauce is expensive. If it doesn’t fit your budget than just don’t buy it! So what do you do?
4 + 1 ways vegans can save money
- Buy in bulk or large packages. Yes, this advice works for everybody, and not just vegans. But it’s definitely worth repeating because throughout this post I am trying to write universal advise regardless of your location. So I am sure your closest store will have “4+1 packages” or “30% off this week” for that large can of beans, pack of frozen legumes or jar of beet.
- Pre-cook your meals, and store them in the freezer. Pick one or 2 days in a week, and cook very large portions. Once the food cools off, put it in plastic containers such as these and you are ready to rock and roll. They are freezer and microwave safe. I usually slow cook the meal and add an ingredient to my liking (brown rice, sweet potato, vegan pasta and my personal favorite barley). But on some days when I don’t have the time I’ll use the microwave to defrost the food, while I prepare the salad and this ingredient.
- Control your spending by not eating out. If you are visiting non-vegan restaurants, you know what hassle it is to get a vegan dish, and prices you get in the end. So
try tokeep this at a bare minimum
- Use discounts on specialty items. This one is a bit self-serving since we often give discounts on protein powder, but that is exactly why we do it! It is a powerful method of saving money! If you would buy it anyway, why not get $5 off. Think about it, in some cases, this isn’t a one-time saving so it adds up.
The bonus advice
Eat less expensive products that still do the trick. For me, smoked tofu with basil is an absolute favorite but I understand I can’t eat it every day! Besides, there’s so much good stuff out there, that’s not expensive, so why waste money? Not to mention the “cold pressed” slow juicer we have at home. I could put in a $100 worth of blueberries, and the juice would disappear the next day! So, I also drink green apples, carrots, beet, oranges, pineapple (I could go on and on). Other more affordable items are still very delicious! For example, I personally own a top of the line Hurom juicer. And I think it’s just remarkable what this baby can do! I plan to do a full review with some recipes, so that’s it for now.
You see, you are already doing so great. You paid for 4 tips, and got 5. Not too shabby my vegan friend!
One vegan’s secret weapon
On very rare occasions, life happens. That project has to be done by noon. You are hungry as hell, and only 15 minutes to spare. Just one problem though, your budget is wasted and you can’t order another takeout. You are just determined to keep the cost low. For whatever the reason, in the next 15 minutes, you want vegan food, that’s cheap, quickly done, tastes great. So where do we make the sacrifice? It’s not 100% healthy because of the bread roll. So what am I talking about? Veggie burger with zucchinis and yellow bell peppers. Sure, you can add some hummus, ketchup, vegan mayo, some kind of a relish. I have to say, $50 I spent on this toaster were one of best spent $50 in my life! This little fellow probably saved me hundreds of dollars and countless hours over the course of years.
So, how much does it cost to be vegan?
In the past, my colleague debunked some vegan myths and he compared price per gram of protein derived from animal and the one derived from a vegetable. It is definitely worth repeating here:
Chia seeds are more expensive than steak – but that’s not a fair comparison. In real life you’ll be eating just a spoon of chia a day (15g), and getting most of your proteins from rice, beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanut butter, tofu, oats, etc. Grains and legumes are some of the cheapest foods in the entire world. For instance, rice and beans is what people on poor countries live on since they can’t afford anything else.
Whether or not you don’t buy products such as leather shoes, belts, there are many non-vegan products that are extremely expensive that you won’t be buying in the first place. If that doesn’t help, just remember one crucial point. You are vegan! Animals, planet Earth, and your body is grateful every day for that decision. With just a little bit of planning, your wallet will be grateful as well.
I hope that these tips will set you in the right direction on becoming a true vegan on a budget.