Lisa Lansing

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Is being vegan expensive?

I get asked so many questions about the cost of living as a vegan, how much do I spend in a month or per meal, and I am happy to answer these questions but sometimes I don’t want to reveal my budget because I don’t view this as important. In the end, it’s just a number. Your desire to go vegan is more important than any number I can give you. The amount I spend per month will differ from the amount you spend per month, because our individual caloric needs and preferences vary, and because we most likely live in completely different parts of the world.

Instead of being concerned with how much others spend on food, I find it is more beneficial to examine your current spending habits if you want to go vegan but are worried you won’t be able to afford it.

Do you know how much do you spend on food currently?

It annoys me to no end when someone inquires about my food budget, learns how much I spend, then immediately discounts veganism because he claims he could never afford to spend that much on food in a month. Then when I ask him how much HE spends on food in a month, including eating out, coffee, alcohol, etc., he has NO FREAKING CLUE.

If you don’t know how much you spend on food currently, you can’t tell me you can’t afford to be vegan.

If you DO know how much you spend on food currently, I guarantee you could spend the same amount on vegan food and be happy, healthy, and satisfied.

If you want to spend MORE on food than what your current budget allows, you will have to adjust your spending elsewhere in your life. Quit coffee and alcohol completely. Simplify your life and stop buying stuff you don’t need. Cancel your Netflix subscription and gym membership. Sell your car. You don’t have to do all of these things at once just to afford fruits and veggies, but you get the idea. You can always trim your spending! Always!

Yesterday I got lunch out with a friend, which is rare for me since I don’t eat out at all anymore. I paid £8.40 for a small baked potato with roasted veggies, a spoonful of hummus, and the smallest side salad you can imagine, with a large decaf soy latte to wash it down. For non-HCLF people, that may sound like a sufficient amount of food, but it wasn’t enough for me. I would have needed at least 6 potatoes to be satisfied. Eating out is never cost-effective. Instead, I could have used that £8.4 to buy 10 sacks of sweet potatoes at Tesco (each kilogram sack costs .79). That would last me 10 meals!

Compare £8.4 to the cost of my meals at home: £4.17. On a typical day, I spend around £12.5 on food (or £375 per month).

Most people would spend £12.5 (if not more!) on one meal out without batting an eye.

If you make eating healthy vegan foods a priority in your life, you WILL find a way to afford it. I think some people, whether they realise it or not, use the purported cost as an excuse. They need a reason to justify their inaction and inability to change. I’m not saying everyone can afford to spend £375 per month on fruits and veggies, but it is completely possible to live as a vegan on much less.

Veganism is only expensive as the foods you buy. If you eat processed foods like veggie sausages and other mock meats, gourmet vegan cheeses, chocolate bars, ice cream, drink alcohol or coffee and eat out often, YES you will spend an exorbitant amount of money on vegan foods.

Stick to vegan staples because they are cheaper and more nutritious. Meal possibilities are endless with cheap staples like rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, and tinned beans and veggies. Frozen fruits and veggies are just as good as fresh (depending on what you are making) and often they are cheaper, so shop around and compare prices.

Check out my money-saving tips for vegans on a budget as well as my favourite tips for saving money on fruits and veggies. If you Google ‘budget vegan,’ you’ll find a slew of websites offering tips and meal plans for even the most austere budget, even as low as $1.50 per day. Have a search and sift through the different websites just to get an idea about how cheaply you can eat as a vegan.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer you is to track your spending—every penny—so you know where your money goes. Examine your current spending habits and adjust them to make healthy vegan foods a priority. If you want to go vegan, go vegan and don’t wait another day.

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