It absolutely doesn’t have to be! Most store cupboard essentials – like pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, tinned tomatoes, lentils and fresh seasonal or frozen veggies – are cheap, and you’re likely to be buying those anyway.
Besides, meat is really expensive. A joint of meat or a piece of fish is probably the most pricey thing you will buy in a supermarket outside of the alcohol aisle. And the price you pay for meat and other animal products is not even the full cost, which is huge when we consider the health and environmental implications, plus the subsidies that all taxpayers contribute to the farming and slaughter of animals.
But what you want to know is: will going vegan blow the weekly budget? And the answer is that most people find little overall difference. Some products like dairy-free cheeses and milks are more expensive than the dairy versions but then there are some premium dairy brands that are more expensive still. It depends on what you used to buy.
If we compare like for like, we can see, for example, that the cheapest frozen sausage rolls that Tesco sells are £1.25 per kilo with the most expensive being £4.20 per kilo. Vegan frozen sausage rolls are £2.50 per kilo, which is certainly competitive. Quorn’s vegan fishless fingers are £7.50 a kilo, while the ones made with fish range from £2.50 to £9.30 a kilo.
For those who bought at the cheaper end of the scale, choosing the vegan options might be a greater expense than they are used to. But, the overall basket price is still likely to stay the same or come down because of the greater amount of fruit and veg you’ll to be buying and enjoying as a vegan, and the fact that you won’t be buying meat. Those who used to buy joints of meat, whole organic chickens or premium dairy brands will almost certainly see the cost of their shopping basket decrease.
Other ways to keep the budget down include cooking from scratch rather than buying processed or pre-packaged foods, bulk-buying staples such as rice and pasta, and cooking up batches of food to freeze for future use.
If you’re on a budget, keep an eye on our Recipe section for cheap vegan meal ideas, and also check out Jack Monroe’s Cooking on a Bootstrap blog where you’ll find lots more delicious cheap vegan recipes, including 9p beetburgers.
And if you eat out, you’ll see that the vegan options on menus are almost always cheaper than the meat options.