About three years ago, my wife and I decided to switch to a vegan diet. The decision was a difficult one but after some quick research into the type of foods we were eating, we decided we wanted to make a change.
Personally, I wanted to start avoiding meat products and processed foods that were heavy in calories and made me feel tired after consuming them.
Along with the health benefits that come with eating a more healthy diet, the decision to go vegan affected our monthly food budget in a few ways (and some were surprising).
What is a Vegan?
A vegan diet eliminates meat products and ‘strict’ vegan diets also refrain from consuming eggs, dairy products and other animal-related by products. 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.
Some notable vegans include Ellen DeGeneres, James Cameron, Al Gore, Brad Pitt, Demi Moore and Bryan Adams.
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 (even if it led to gaining weight over time).
Since most grocery stores didn’t carry some of the specialty food items a vegan would require, switching to vegan meant I had to shop at some specialty grocery stores.
I began shopping at specialty organic food stores that carried many of the items I wanted to try.
Switching to a vegan diet also meant changing the monthly food budget. 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
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
- Instead of buying regular dairy milk, I buy rice (or soy) milk
- Instead of buying regular cheese, I buy dairy-free cheeses that are available at most grocery stores
Overall, switching to vegan has caused the monthly grocery spending to increase slightly. The amount previously spent on meats and dairy products has simply been replaced by other (specialty) items.
I was initially surprised to see that the 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, 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, I still think it’s possible for others to save money by going vegan.
Saving money by going vegan can be done by spending more time and effort on the foods that you consume on a daily basis. 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 soups, granola bars and vegetarian burger patties to avoid buying the more expensive (and unhealthy) alternatives in the grocery store.
Conclusion: switching to a vegan diet takes time, effort and money. I’m not a ‘strict’ vegan 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.
Would youconsider switching to a vegan diet?
About the Author: Dan is an accountant from Western Canada and blogs at Our Big Fat Wallet. He is married to his wife who is a teacher. He has a passion for finance and works for a large energy company. He has never had any debt, is able to save money on virtually all purchases and invests in dividend stocks with the hopes of retiring early.
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