The Cost of Eating Vegan: Challenges and Advice

FT Contributor  | 

Veganism is a lifestyle that avoids any animal byproducts, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. Instead, vegans feast on a plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Many vegans also choose to not wear clothing made from animals, like wool or leather.

There are many reasons someone might pursue a vegan diet. For instance, someone might go vegan for health reasons, while another person might choose to be a vegan because of their love for animals.

Veganism can be an expensive lifestyle. People may think junk food is more affordable in contrast to healthier options, but that’s not necessarily the case. It depends on the types of vegan products you choose to purchase. If you’re looking to eat healthy on a budget, this guide will explain the costs of eating vegan. It will also address the challenges that eating vegan presents and provide advice on how to eat vegan.

The Challenges of Eating Healthy on a Vegan Diet

Choosing to be a vegan is often thought of as a healthy option, but this is not necessarily always true. Consuming high quantities of grains all the time isn’t exactly healthy. As with any diet, it’s about striking a balance.

While eating vegan may seem to be a simple practice, it’s not always easy to find vegan options. The risk of unhealthy eating on a vegan diet can be exacerbated by the feeling of food scarcity or the need to change your cooking and eating habits. For example, a vegan on the road who hasn’t pre-prepared their food may turn to French fries or pick up something pre-packaged, like vegan macaroni and cheese.

If you don’t approach a vegan diet carefully, it can result in protein deficiencies, high carb intake, and high fat intake, causing health issues or weight gain.

The Expense of Vegan Food Products

While a vegan diet generally calls for affordable foods like fruits and vegetables, eating vegan can easily get very pricey. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the price ultimately depends on where you buy produce and the type you are buying. Organic produce is almost always going to cost more than the generic store brand.

Additionally, certain vegan staples like nutritional yeast can cause your grocery bill to skyrocket. The good thing is that this is an ingredient that can last you a long time, so you won’t need to buy it every time you go to the grocery store.

Health Food Markups

Another thing that makes vegan food products so expensive is the markups on vegan food. Health foods are considered a specialty item and therefore are often more expensive. Not only do vegan options often automatically get categorized as health food and marked up as such, but they are often organic and non-GMO, causing the price of the product to increase even more.

Production

Vegan food can also be expensive due to a simple matter of supply and demand. While sales of plant-based foods increased by 11% from 2018 to 2019, vegan food production is still on a relatively small scale, while the demand for it is increasing. In other words, there are very few companies producing vegan food, but many people are seeking it out. Prices increase to balance that supply and demand.

Pre-Packaging

Another factor that can increase the cost of eating vegan is the pre-packaged options. There are many pre-packaged vegan meals available, which makes following the diet much easier. However, the convenience also often translates into a higher expense at checkout.

How to Eat Vegan on a Budget

Despite the many factors that make eating vegan expensive, there are ways to lower the cost of eating vegan so you can stick to your budget.

Keep It Simple

If you’re just starting out on a vegan diet, it will be easier to eat healthy if you stick to simple options. Doing so will also help make your grocery bill more affordable. Keeping your recipes simple will make it easier to plan meals, track your nutrition, and buy in bulk.

When shopping on a vegan diet, instead of immediately going for vegan meat and dairy substitutes, opt for options you are already accustomed to, like peanut butter, hummus, or avocado. In doing so, you’re more likely to experience an easier and more affordable transition.

Buy in Bulk

Generally speaking, buying food in bulk is an affordable option. Buying bulk may result in a huge financial gain for a vegan, but it can also be difficult because so much of a vegan diet requires fresh produce, which can go bad quickly. Fortunately, there are plenty of vegan groceries you can buy in bulk including beans and rice. These foods are extremely inexpensive to buy bulk and versatile when it comes to vegan cooking.

Meal Prep

Many types of diets call for meal prepping, and it’s an important step for you to take if you want to stick to veganism. Meal prepping makes it easy for you to stay on track and avoid the foods that aren’t part of a vegan diet.

Additionally, it’s important to be prepared for situations where vegan food options aren’t available. Having a backup meal prepared and on-hand can prevent you from falling off the wagon.

Finally, meal prepping is budget-friendly due to the fact that it allows you to more carefully plan the cost of grocery trips. This is especially true for vegans. Fruits and vegetables can go bad quickly, but with meal prepping, you know to use what you have before you have to purchase more.

Eating vegan can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow the tips and tricks in this article to avoid the challenges of being a vegan and get started on a healthier lifestyle.


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