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How Going Vegan Affected Our Grocery Budget

vegan diet

Food And Your Wallet With A Vegan Lifestyle

Three years ago, my wife and I decided to switch to a vegan diet which has taken us on a journey I’d like to share with you.

The decision was a difficult one but after some research, we decided we wanted to make a healthy change.

I wanted to start avoiding meat products and processed foods that were heavy in calories and made me feel tired after consuming them.

However, with the health benefits going vegan affected our monthly food budget (and some were surprising).

Eating A Veganism Diet

Known as vegan or veganism diet there is much to learn but if you’re serious about going this route it’s worth it.

A vegan diet eliminates meat products and ‘strict’ vegan diets also refrain from consuming eggs, dairy, and other animal-related by-products.

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.

An individual who follows the diet or philosophy is known as a vegan. Distinctions may be made between several categories of veganism.

Dietary vegans, also known as “strict vegetarians“, refrain from consuming meat, eggs, dairy products, and any other animal-derived substances.

An ethical vegan, also known as a “moral vegetarian”, is someone who not only follows a vegan diet but extends the philosophy into other areas of their lives, and opposes the use of animals for any purpose.

Another term is “environmental veganism“, which refers to the avoidance of animal products on the premise that the industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.

As mentioned above the term vegan is described as “non-dairy vegetarian” and typical vegan diets are usually high in fibre, magnesium, vitamin C/E, and iron.

They also tend to be lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc.

Since most processed foods tend to include animal-related products, a vegan diet usually consists of eating more raw, lean, and healthier foods.

Famous Vegans

Vegan store

Some notable vegans include Ellen DeGeneres, James Cameron, Al Gore, Brad Pitt, Demi Moore, and Bryan Adams.

Life Before vs. Now

I’ll be the first to admit going vegan was a complete shock to my system.

I’ve grown up eating meat and dairy products and used to love a steak dinner grilled on a BBQ.

Since most grocery stores didn’t carry some vegan food items that meant I shopped at specialty grocery stores.

My Monthly Vegan Budget

Vegan dish

Switching to a vegan diet also meant changing the monthly food budget but we didn’t know until we tracked it.

While overall spending per month did increase, there were a few things that I surprisingly no longer needed:

  • Items that are specific to meats like BBQ sauce, steak spices, and different seasonings for grilling chicken were no longer needed
  • I had an old BBQ I considered replacing but since I knew I wouldn’t be cooking meat any time soon, I sold it and kept the money rather than replacing it with a new one.
  • Since I no longer froze large amounts of meat in the freezer, this freed up space to store different items like tofu burger patties or homemade vegetarian soups.
  • I’m a big fan of pizza and I quickly noticed most pizza places don’t offer a vegan pizza. This was a good opportunity to make my own pizzas at home with the toppings and ingredients I wanted

Other Vegan Products I Bought

There were also a few items that I needed to buy that were not previously on the shopping list:

  • Instead of buying expensive meats, I would buy meat replacements like tempeh and tofu to add protein to meals
  • As a substitute for buying regular dairy milk, I buy rice (or soy) milk
  • Alternatively of buying regular cheese, I buy dairy-free cheeses that are available at most grocery stores

Overall, switching to vegan has caused monthly grocery spending to increase slightly.

The amount previously spent on meats and dairy products has simply been replaced by other (specialty) items.

However, I was initially surprised to see that our monthly spending had gone up.

I assumed that after I cut out expensive meat products and cheeses that I would definitely save money each month.

Although that simply isn’t the case if you buy food that is not on sale, the difference is barely noticeable.

Food and your grocery budget

How To Go Vegan (and still save money)

Even though going vegan hasn’t saved me money, we are working on ways to cut the costs and are educating ourselves.

I still think you can save money by following the grocery shopping strategies Mr. CBB has shared in his Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

Saving money as a vegan can be done by spending more time and effort on the foods that you consume daily.

Cooking meals at home, baking your own foods, and buying all raw ingredients to prepare items in bulk (and storing them to be used later) are all things that can help save money when going vegan.

Sure, it takes time to prepare foods from scratch, but it fits well with a vegan diet because it tends to be restrictive on what types of ingredients are used in everyday items.

Although I don’t make all food from scratch, we make our own homemade foods to avoid buying the more expensive (and unhealthy) alternatives in the grocery store.

  • Homemade soups
  • Granola bars
  • Vegetarian burger patties

Overall Thoughts Of Our Life As A Vegan

Switching to a vegan diet takes time, effort, and money to get you started. 

I’m not ‘strict’ because I do eat the occasional food that contains dairy products (such as cream in a coffee) but I still do avoid meats.

A vegan diet has improved my health overall but it hasn’t saved me money because the meats I used to buy have been replaced by specialty food items like tofu, tempeh, and nuts.

Discussion: Would you consider switching to this type of diet lifestyle?

About the Author: Dan is an accountant from Western Canada and blogs at Our Big Fat Wallet

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