There’s no avoiding it; veganism has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, The Vegan Society reported that a record-breaking 560,000 people signed up to the 2021 Veganuary campaign. And Deliveroo revealed a 163% increase in vegan takeaway orders between January 2020 to 2021.
But, despite the irrefutable rise of veganism both in our homes and within the mainstream media, vegan diets still have a reputation for being an expensive lifestyle choice… One that might be unattainable for lower-income families.
The cost of veganism
It’s well-established that turning to a vegan diet is an excellent way to fight the unethical treatment of animals, improve your personal health and do your bit to save the environment. However, many still believe that a vegan lifestyle is too expensive for the average Joe.
It’s certainly true that there are millions of high-priced vegan products on supermarket shelves. The ‘fad’ of veganism is being seen as a commodity that can be exploited.
However, as with anything, a vegan diet can be as expensive or affordable as you make it.
Even meat-eaters are aware that there’s a difference between picking up a pound of minced beef vs. a pound of ribeye steak. A vegan diet is no different: there are expensive, premium choices and more affordable, everyday options.
Like for like products
The rise in veganism has led the way for a rise in meat substitutes. Quorn is a common sight in the stores, promising the same taste and texture as your old favourite meats in a plant-based patty. But not all Quorn is vegan, and Quorn is by no means the only option for vegan meats today!
What we found when we looked at the costs of meat vs. meat-free is that, yes, vegan options are considerably more expensive than the cheaper meat products available. However, when you look at high-end meats (such as organic steak mince), the vegan alternatives come in a little cheaper.
But while meat-free meat is bought by vegans and vegetarians alike, dairy products must also be replaced in a vegan diet. Without the vegetarians’ demand, the cost for substitutes (including vegan cheese, cream, and other items) can be a little higher.
That said, dairy-free products are clearly rising in popularity. Even ice-cream makers Ben & Jerry’s have now released a vegan ice cream that’s hugely popular with vegans and non-vegans alike.
Hopefully, as more conscious diets become the norm, this will continue to push down prices and make vegan substitutions more accessible.
While vegan alternatives and supplements might be pricy aspects of a meat-and-dairy-free diet, making this lifestyle choice doesn’t necessarily have to include vegan branded products.
In fact, vegan products such as beans, legumes, fruit and veggies are generally far more affordable than the pork chop dinners you might have had before!
What we tend to find is the initial switch to veganism is the expensive part. As new vegans experiment with a range of non-dairy meals and familiarise themselves with new brands and recipes, it may be necessary to restock pantries with vegan-friendly ingredients that meat-eating households might not include.
However, after the initial stage of restocking the cupboards and refrigerator with vegan foods, this diet can become incredibly affordable, with less food waste and plenty of options.
How to make veganism affordable
At first, glance, adopting a vegan lifestyle can seem like an expensive way to combat unethical animal treatment, create a healthier life, and aid in environmental concerns. However, there are a few ways you can make the switch less expensive.
Meal planning and preparing to cook at home more often is one of the best ways of reducing the expenditure that can come with a vegan diet. One of the best pieces of advice we were given when we made the change to a vegan lifestyle was not getting caught up by meat substitutions.
Sure, you can enjoy your favourite spaghetti bolognese with meat-free substitutions, but switching it up entirely for a vegan tofu dish tends to be more affordable (and less disappointing!).
It’s a great idea to get all the tools you’ll need to enjoy a vegan diet to its fullest. For example, tofu is a popular ingredient in a vegan diet, but if it’s not been pressed, it will never get the wonderful texture or absorb tasty flavours that transform it into a yummy meal. We recommend a TofuBud if tofu is to feature heavily in your vegan meals.
You should also try not to fall prey to vegan branded products. You’d be surprised how many of your favourite snacks are already made without animal products! For some inspiration, vegans can enjoy accidentally-vegan products such as:
With all this choice, you’ll likely be surprised how easy and affordable it is to avoid animal products in your diet.
Going vegan doesn’t need to cost the earth… But it might well help to save it!