One of the criticisms sometimes aimed at veganism is that it’s too expensive, too elitist. The majority of vegans however, as well as the research, report exactly the opposite! Meat is expensive, and when you remove it from your diet and replace it with much cheaper (and healthier) pulses, grains, and vegetables, you leave the grocery store with your pockets feeling fuller, and your conscience feeling clearer.
How To Be a Healthy Vegan on a Budget?
Saving money and eating healthier go hand in hand with a vegan diet. Vegan proteins like lentils, beans, tofu, and seitan, are far better for our health than meat, and the majority of the time, are far cheaper, too! Of course, some fancy meat alternatives can be more expensive than meat, which is heavily subsidized by our taxes. However, the cost of our overall weekly shop is still likely to reduce because the main components — grains, pasta, legumes and vegetables — all tend to be very low cost. Nor do they come with the same health price tag!
In fact, processed red meats are proven to cause cancer, as well as elevate our risk of heart disease and diabetes. All other red meats are likely to cause cancer, and even white meats and meat from fishes, when cooked at high temperatures, release chemicals associated with increased cancer risk. Plant-based proteins however, especially when paired with other plant-based whole foods, nurture our health and are even cancer protective.
So, a whole food, plant-based diet just happens to be the healthiest and the cheapest diet out there!
Creativity is at the heart of a whole-food vegan diet and will come naturally once you decide to start cooking with whole-food ingredients. You will realize that the flavor of meat products that you once loved, was actually just herbs and spices, which can be added to everything!
Dive into different cultures and cuisines and you will find there is an endless stream of diverse vegan meals out there that are healthy, simple, and delicious. GenV’s vegan challenges are a great place to start for inspiration.
You can find ‘value’ range products in most grocery stores and luckily, almost all the vegan staples you need for veganism on a budget are included in that! Pasta, rice, sauces, bread, beans, and more, will almost always have a value range alternative to branded produce, and they are still great quality products. Look out for cheaper misshapen fruits and vegetables too for extra savings!
Reductions Are Your Friend!
Buying reduced items is not only economic for us but also great for reducing food waste. Grocery stores throw away a huge amount of food because it is past its ‘use by date,’ but these dates are often very conservative and the wonderful thing about plant-based foods, unlike meat and dairy, is that most of them are safe to eat beyond these dates. So keep your eyes peeled for those reduced stickers on your favorite vegan products!
Prepare Food at Home
Cooking at home is one of the most effective ways of saving money on a vegan diet. For many of us though, it can feel challenging and a little daunting. But vegan food does not need to be complex or scary, there are so many simple, quick, and delicious recipes that are accessible to all and can be cooked in bulk and enjoyed all week! Here are a few links to get you started:
Leftovers For Lunch
Leftovers sometimes get a bad rep, but we think that’s because the typical meat-and-two-veg meals just don’t keep well! Big one-pot vegan meals however, like curries, pastas, soups, stews, and chilis, all taste even better the next day, and sometimes even better the day after that!
Discover New Shops and Markets
Part of the fun of going vegan is exploring new shops and markets that you may have once walked straight past. Stores dedicated to cuisines you may not have tried before can be a great way of diversifying your diet and trying new things, as well as saving money. Markets can also be a great place to pick up fresh produce at a very reasonable price.
Why not head out and explore your area and see what you can find?
Buy What You Need
This seems like an obvious one, but it is very easy to accidentally overbuy food and end up with unnecessary waste. A good meal plan can really help us buy only what we need and avoid wasting money on food we won’t end up eating.
GenV’s vegan challenges come with a full meal plan with recipes, to help you plan ahead and buy only what you need for the week!
Stock Up on Cupboard Essentials
Luckily for us, so many of the most common cupboard essentials are also healthy vegan foods. Tinned legumes, beans, tomatoes, and coconut milk, as well as a variety of grains, rice, spices, sauces, vinegars, and oils, are key ingredients in so many cheap vegan recipes. Having these on hand at all times means we can always whip something up at the last minute when the fridge is empty.
Don’t Go Food Shopping When You’re Hungry
We all occasionally nip to the shops when we’re hungry, and walk out with armfuls of expensive snacks and none of the essentials we need! While this is okay sometimes, it’s not the best way to be vegan on a budget. A good shopping list and meal plan, paired with a full belly, will help us walk out with what our future-self needs and not what our hungry tummy wants!
Vegan on a Budget Shopping List
Here’s a vegan on a budget shopping list to get you started. Remember to hit all the essential food groups in your shop and look for the ‘value’ versions of any available products..
- Firm tofu
- Tinned beans and legumes (try 2 lentils, 2 chickpeas and 2 black beans as a start)
- Brown rice
- Instant oatmeal
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat pasta
- Potatoes & sweet potatoes
- Dairy-free butter
- Peanut butter
Fruit and Veg
- Frozen mixed berries
- Broccoli florets
- Seasonal leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Garlic and brown onions
- Mixed frozen veg
- Frozen peas, carrots
Meat & Dairy Replacements
- Veggie burgers and sausages
- Soy mince
- Soy/rice/coconut milk
Herbs and Spices
- Curry powder
- Mixed herbs
Veganism on a budget does not need to mean bland and boring meals. There are so many ingredients available to us, we could make a dish from each corner of the world, every night of the week, and save ourselves some cash in the process! It just so happens that the majority of vegan foods are among the healthiest foods for us, too, so what is there to lose?