When I started working on this post I thought it would be a simple matter of taking a typical daily menu for a meat eater and substitute tofu or beans for the animal products. However, that doesn’t give a true picture. A healthy diet, vegan or not, needs to include a balance of nutrients. Exchanging tofu cutlets for animal meat with no other dietary changes doesn’t result in the best diet. For example, a healthy vegan diet should include a higher intake of veggies that are rich in calcium and iron. Just exchanging animal products with tofu or beans won’t necessarily provide the calcium and iron needed.
But trying to compare average diets also poses a problem in determining what an average diet is. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is anything but healthy and it contains a good bit of fast food or highly processed foods. So do I compare a SAD diet to a vegan diet based on vegan fast food and vegan highly processed foods? That doesn’t give a true cost comparison for the average vegan. In this comparison the SAD diet would cost less, but what vegan eats this way? Probably some I’m sure but that is not the norm.
As a vegan who would like to see this become a vegan world, I would love to show that absolutely, a vegan diet costs less than a non-vegan diet. But that isn’t always the case. The reality is that most vegan processed foods cost more than non-vegan products. Vegan frozen pizza is about $7.50 and a comparable non-vegan pizza is about $4.00. However, non-processed foods that are often used in place of meat products cost less. While lean hamburger runs about $4.00 a pound, extra firm tofu is about $1.95. Beans from the bulk section of the store are pennies per serving and can be used as a hearty main course.
The more processed food a person eats the more a vegan diet will cost over an animal based diet. For me, eating vegan is far less expensive than my pre-vegan diet. But that is because I stopped eating the Standard American Diet, high in processed foods and switched to a whole foods plant based diet with a few bags of Lays potato chips thrown in. Hey, a girl needs her occasional indulgence!
Prior to going vegan I usually went to the grocery store on my way home from work and picked up something already cooked from the deli section or something I could put in the microwave. I ate out several times a week, and I ate few fresh veggies or fruit. Today I eat at home almost every day for dinner. I seldom use my microwave for anything, and I eat far more than the recommended 5 servings of veggies and fruit a day. My food costs were reduced by almost 50%, not counting the money I saved from reducing the number of times I eat out.
I didn’t go vegan to save money. I did it because I believe it is the right thing to do for the beings we share this planet with including other humans. The cost savings for me has just been another of the many unexpected benefits to going vegan.
Below I have included links that do cost comparisons and provide more information on nutrition both vegan and non-vegan.
One off topic note, during my search for information I ran across a web site that is all about found shopping lists. Seriously, just found shopping lists from around the world. What a unique and entertaining idea for a web site! Anyway if you want to kill a little time I think it is worth a visit or two. Visit: This is Grocerylists.org The World’s Largest Online Collectin of Found Grocery Lists
21 Day Vegan Kickstart