But this is a huge misconception. Budgeting for a vegan lifestyle should be one of the main reasons people choose the go vegan - not the other way around. Believe it or not, there are many economic benefits to going vegan, both for the individual and the country.
Contrary to popular belief, eating vegan is one of the more affordable ways to live.
Don’t get me wrong, those vegan substitutes you can find in grocery stores, covered in labels suggesting that the product is, “gluten-free, organic, whole wheat, soy-free, vegan and made with love!” can definitely put a dent in your wallet. However, if you want to live a healthy, delicious, and wholistic life with actual food, it’s so cheap!
An article by Aaron Crowe lists the best foods to buy when you’re on a budget as beans, brown rice, green vegetables, potatoes, frozen vegetables, peanut butter and protein bars. All of which are vegan (well, most protein bars are). One couple even spent 30 days eating off of $1 a day—and both were vegans!
The only food that tends to get a little pricey in a vegan diet is fruit, the price of which fluctuates dramatically depending on the season. If you opt to purchase them seasonally, it becomes a lot more affordable (plus, without the cost of meat and dairy upping your budget, you’ll have room for more berries and citrus) and you can eat them in abundance! In the winter, I tend to eat significantly less fruit (and when I do it is usually frozen) but fruits such as apples, pears, bananas and oranges are usually affordable year-round.
Some studies even show that converting to even just a vegetarian diet can save you up to $750 a year. Imagine how that number might increase when you cut out dairy products.
A paper written by Jayson L. Lusk and F. Bailey Norwood discusses the economics involved in animal agriculture. What is most important to understand is how much it takes to raise animals for livestock and dairy. “For every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of animal protein produced,” writes Lusk and Norwood, “animals consume an average of almost 6 kilograms…of plant protein from grains and forage,”(111).
By converting our nation’s efforts of raising livestock to growing fruits, vegetables, and grains for direct human consumption (rather than having all these large animals as a middle man for these plants’ nutrition), we would save drastic amounts of money because we would no longer be producing one sixth of the protein we are putting into the process.
“Obtaining a gram of protein from the cheapest meat product (broilers) is 3.26 times more costly than obtaining a gram of protein from the most expensive plant-based product (peanuts),” claim Lusk and Norwood.
Health Care and Environmental Savings
What is also important to remember is that, because going vegan or vegetarian can improve people’s overall health as well, there would be a significant decrease in the amount of health care needed for U.S. citizens. In addition, it is likely that the U.S could save on a substantial amount of finances, currently allocated to natural resources. After all, it takes an awful lot of water to grow the feed for these animals, keep them hydrated, and water their pastures.
Lauren Cassani Davis’s article for the Atlantic dives deep into determining the ways in which the United States would save money through these two factors. “Out of all the world’s countries,” she claims, “the U.S. would save the most by curbing its taste for meat. Due to its very high per-capita health-care costs, the country could save $180 billion if the population ate according to recommended guidelines, and $250 billion if it eschewed animal food products altogether.”
Amanda is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she studies English, Journalism, and Communications. She is the lead editor of New York Minute Magazine and assists in the communication department for the Institute for Humane Education and My Sexual Biography. She has been a vegan since 2015 and loved every minute of it! When she's not working on her thesis, she can often be found hiking in the White Mountains, where she has worked several seasons in backcountry huts.