Myth Busted: I Can’t Afford to Be Vegan

The true cost of cutting out meat

By Lindsey Myers

As someone desperately afraid of being slapped with the “preachy vegan” stereotype, I try not to talk too much about my dietary choices. However, my social life often revolves around food so eventually my plant-based little secret sneaks out. When this happens, one of the first questions I get from friends is: “But how do you afford it?”

There is a common misconception that only people living on a Goop budget can afford to abide by the luxury lifestyle that is a vegan diet. But I’m here to tell you that could not be further from the truth. Eating vegan is actually one of the best decisions you can make for your wallet.

According to this recent study, replacing lean animal protein with a plant based diet can save you over $750 a year on average.

Whole Foods, Full Wallet

When you spend all of your grocery money on frivolous late night Ubers and still have to eat that week, what do you survive on? Pasta. Grains are extremely inexpensive, and often the foundation of a (healthy) vegan diet. Rice, quinoa, pasta, oats, and all of the other great grains out there can serve as the base for hundreds of different vegan recipes. Snagging them from bulk bins in your local grocery store will save you even more dough. Many omnivores make the mistake of categorizing grains as a side dish to a meat main course. However, a pound of chicken breast (on average) comes in at $3.18, and a pound of brown rice is less than a dollar. The proof is in the pennies. Beans, lentils, and potatoes are also big bang for your buck, coming in at low price points, but hitting hard in the satiation department.

Keep Calm and Eat Your Veggies

Fruits and vegetables also make up a huge portion of a vegan’s daily plate. While fresh produce can have its pricey moments, it is overall an inexpensive way to shop and eat. It will probably never NOT be outrageously expensive to pick up a pallet of raspberries in February, but look beyond the berries and I assure you that cheap produce will appear. Buying more vegetables that are in season and better yet, on sale, instead of meat and dairy products will yield one of your lowest grocery bills ever. This I promise you (RIP JT’s curls). Use this guide to shop seasonable produce near you.

Another tip: steer clear of veggies that are pre-chopped and/or peeled. That is a one-way street to a hefty number at the bottom of your receipt. If you do have a hard time finding fresh fruits and veggies, hightail it to the freezer section. You’ll find all of your favorite plant based foods at crazy low prices. You can also find tons of great medleys and quick one-stop meals. I always stock up on frozen veggie goodies for those times I’m too busy (lazy) to hit the grocery store.

You a fake cheese where the plant friends at?

Hi my name is Lindsey, and I’ve spent $7.00 on a pack of six vegan artisan cheese slices. Not varieties, slices. In my opinion, veganism gets its false expensive label due to the outrageous price of some plant based meat and dairy substitutes. I will not deny that these products are out there, but they’re not a part of most vegans’ daily diet. I splurge on these items once in a while as a treat, but they rarely find their way into my grocery cart. In addition, there is a huge variety of affordable vegan substitute products (even Ben & Jerry’s) out there, so it is possible to get your fix and keep more of your hard earned cash.

Separate checks, please

Unless I’m having a Micheal Phelps diet moment, I usually have the cheapest bill when out to eat with friends. The absence of meat and dairy products in a menu item usually makes it less expensive than its carnivorous counterparts. As long as your friends aren’t the dreaded “lets just split the bill” people when they had filet mignon and you had a kale salad, you’ll be leaving restaurants with more money in your bank account as a vegan. Bottom line, you get free guacamole on veggie burrito bowls at Chipotle. If you’re anything like me, that will save you $2.10 AT LEAST a few times a month.

There are countless health, ethical, and environmental reasons to avoid or eat less animal products, so don’t let financial concerns stand in your way! I predict more kale and less overdraft charges in your vegan future.

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