Many people say they cannot afford to go vegan, but is a vegan diet really more expensive than a meat-based diet?
“Eating healthily is expensive”.
I heard this comment on the radio this morning and nearly spat my vegan cheese of toast across the room.
I’ve heard exactly the same weak, tired, untrue excuse from carnists who are desperate to discredit veganism as a dietary choice.
A quick trip down your local fruit and veg market will show you exactly how inexpensive a plant-based diet can actually be. Grab a few herbs and spices (which will last you ages) and maybe even a bag of soya chunks (a kilogram for £6 – enough to feed a family for a month or so) and you’re sorted.
As with all things, your diet can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it. You can go into the supermarket and buy a tin of beans for 20p or go for the 68p “posh brand”. Stick a bit of black pepper, even some vegan margarine (very yummy), and a little paprika in the 20p tin and it tastes even better than the expensive stuff. We have choices.
You can get basic pasta and rice staples at rock bottom prices, or you can buy a spiralizer and make healthy courgette pasta that’s fresher than fresh. But processed food will always be more expensive – that applies equally if you’re a vegan or a meat eater.
However, even in the processed food world, prices vary wildly. You can get five frozen vegan-friendly sausages from Holland and Barrett for 99p, equally, there are more expensive brands that cost £3 or £4. Meat sausages seem to start at around £1.50 a pack upwards, so there really is very little difference. Many people’s favourite vegetarian sausages – Lind McCartney’s – can often be found on offer a 99p or £1.25 for six.
It is difficult to directly compare the price of meat to vegan alternatives because there is such a wide range of choices available. For example, if I’m making a curry I’ll use mushrooms instead of meat. For spaghetti Bolognese I’ll often use frozen soya mince – which in Tesco is £1.50 for 450gm, or £2.50 for 900gm, compared to £3.25 for 1kg of minced beef in the same shop. The vegan choice is more expensive is it? Of course, if you decide to use variation, the price goes up and down – I like to use crushed up nut cutlets instead of soya mince, for example – and meat-eaters sometimes use more expensive minces, we have a choice and we can budget to fit our incomes.
Plant milks have become fashionable for non-vegans as well as vegans in recent years as they are seen as a healthy alternative. These milks can replace cow’s milk in any recipe that calls for it too.
A litre of basic soya milk costs 59p, alternatives can cost up to £2 a litre, there is such a wide range to choose from. A litre of cow’s milk costs around the £1 mark, which seems quite expensive in comparison.
It seems that being vegan can actually be less expensive than eating meat. In addition to this, the cost of meat production on the environment is much greater as cows eat grain that can be fed to humans and drink water that could otherwise go directly into the human food chain. It is said that it takes 10 times the land to feed a meat eater than it does a vegetarian. But the fact of the matter is the idea that it is more expensive to eat a vegan diet than it is a meat-based diet is utter nonsense.