It absolutely doesn’t have to be! Most vegan store cupboard essentials – like pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, bread, tinned tomatoes, lentils and fresh seasonal or frozen veggies – are pretty cheap.
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. When you eat out, you’ll see that the vegan options on menus are almost always cheaper than the meat options. 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 standard dairy versions, although some premium dairy brands are more expensive still. It depends on what you used to buy as a meat-eater and what you wish to buy as a vegan. For example, 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.
For everyone else, buying more (cheaper) plant foods and fewer (expensive) meat products means there is usually a little left over for that vegan ice cream or your favourite cheese. Generally, it balances out but here are a few more tips to ensure your vegan shop remains affordable.
1. Buy seasonal vegetables from local markets if possible.
2. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables – they’re still full of nutrients, last longer so there is less waste, and they are often cheaper.
3. Cook from scratch rather than buying processed or pre-packaged foods. Delicious Thai curries, stews, dhal, soups and pies can be made easily and very cheaply, for example.
4. Bulk-buy staples such as rice and pasta.
5. Cook 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.
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PAGE UPDATED JULY 2020