The Cost of Being Vegan
Veganism is currently flavour of the year. With UK plant-based foods sales up 1,500% in 2017, the number of vegans in Britain has risen by a staggering 360% over the past decade, making it one of Britain’s fastest-growing lifestyle movements with more than 3% of the UK population identifying as vegan.
This new trend is mostly down to popular culture, with influencers and celebrities promoting the lifestyle as well as increasing numbers of vegan recipe books and documentaries such as “Cowspiracy” making international headway.
One of the many questions that arise is whether being a vegan costs more than a typical meat-eater. We thought we’d take a look…
What is a vegan and what do they eat?
Vegans avoid eating meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey, as well as any other products containing ingredients derived from animals, such as gelatine. Once perceived as a restrictive diet, thanks to online recipes and movements such as Veganuary, vegan food is becoming more and more accessible.
Many supermarkets now stock own-brand vegan products and an increasing number of high street restaurants and cafes offer a variety of vegan options. Pret-A-Manger recently announced one of its branches would only offer vegan and vegetarian food for a month-long experiment. Tesco has launched a new vegan range, ‘Wicked’, with plant-based ready meals, sandwiches and salads. On the high street, Zizzi’s has many vegan and dairy-free alternatives on its menu.
However, avoiding animal products doesn’t mean surviving on just fruit and vegetables. In fact, many common meals and foods are already vegan or can be adjusted easily. For example, bean burritos, veggie or mushroom burgers, tomato pizzas, lentil spaghetti bolognese, smoothies and falafel wraps, salads and sandwiches. Dairy products are commonly replaced with plant milks such as soya, almond and coconut and scrambled eggs can be swapped for scrambled tofu.
Is the vegan lifestyle more expensive?
There is no simple answer as it all entirely depends on your lifestyle and eating preferences. Prepared food will always be more expensive than food you make yourself, so buying the ingredients and making them at home will save you money. Buying cupboard staples such as rice, tofu, lentils, nuts, beans, seeds, herbs and spices are largely cheaper than meat and will provide the protein and nutrients needed. We carried out some online research at the nation’s most popular supermarket. Here is a comparison of popular dishes, listing the average price of the meal or protein element:
Tesco Chicken Breasts (450g) £3.50 vs Tesco Mixed Beans (400g) 65p
Tesco Beef Quarter Pounder (2 pack) £2.50 vs Tesco spicy bean burgers (2 pack) £1.50
Tesco Beef Mince (500g) £4.00 vs Tesco Green Lentils (500g) £1.15
Tesco Chicken Breasts (450g) £3.50 vs Tesco tin of Chickpeas, Sweet Potato and Spinach £1.80
Roast Chicken Dinner
Tesco Whole Medium Chicken £3.50 vs Tesco Nut Roast £1.50
- Tips to save money
- Plan Ahead: If you turn up at the supermarket unprepared, you may end up spending a fortune on ‘trendy’ packaged vegan food. Plan your meals for the week ahead. Get online and look at recipes or find inspiration from food bloggers. Writing down the ingredients you need (rather than want) will help you in the long run.
- Bulk Buy: Another way to save money is to buy in bulk. This includes frozen fruit and vegetables and cupboard staples – especially when buying supermarket’s own brand.
- Go local: If you want to buy fresh fruits and veg, save money and buy from the local green grocers or try the ‘wonky’ veg aisle at the supermarket.
The cost of being a vegan is down to you. The truth is, if you are buying Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice-cream, fancy kale chips and vegan ready meals every day, you will likely be spending more than you did when you were eating meat. Once you get in the swing of buying vegan produce and preparing vegan meals, it can be as cheap as you want it to be.
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