Is a Vegetarian Diet Actually Cheaper?


Lots of vegetarians love to talk about how there are health benefits to eating the way they do, so we wanted to challenge them: Are there cost benefits to being a vegan or a vegetarian?

To find out, we performed a hypothetical calculation of the total cost of a day’s meals for various eating habits: meat-eaters, your standard omnivorous bunch; pescetarians, who eat like vegetarians but allow themselves fish; vegetarians, who don’t eat meat; and vegans, who don’t eat any foods derived from animal products, including butter, milk, etc.

The following sums were calculated using grocery store prices. While this is just one sample menu and therefore not completely indicative of any hard and fast truth—after all, there are ways to eat inexpensively regardless of your preference—we calculated one possible scenario for how the (organic, vegan) chips could fall:

During The Sample Day, The Vegan Saved $3.50 Over The Meat-Eater

This is one hypothetical day out of many, but if the savings were consistent, the vegan would save nearly $1,280 over the course of a year. We recognize that it’s possible to lead a non-vegetarian life on a budget–and to eat expensively as a vegan–but we noticed one general, interesting trend. The most inexpensive foods are often plant-derived products, like carrots, oatmeal, and vegetable products. Plant proteins such as tofu or garbanzo beans, meanwhile, tend to be much cheaper than their equivalents in animal protein. The cheapest cuts of beef average about $3 to $4 per pound, while lentils and dried beans are generally less than $1 per pound and tofu is less than $2 per pound.

While We’re On The Topic Of Processed Foods…

Processed foods are the foes of a well-balanced budget not only because they tend to be the most expensive, but also because they’re also often the least healthy. This rings true for vegetarian processed foods as well, like soy hot dogs or pre-packaged veggie burgers, which can be even more expensive than regular turkey dogs or burgers. To help you stay mindful of budget and still enjoy a good barbeque from time to time, we’ve included a great black-bean burger recipe as one of the tasty and affordable recipes in our slide show.


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