Is Vegan Food More Expensive?

We often hear how a vegan diet is more expensive than a traditional diet, but is that actually true?
Mahnoor Syed, Certified Dietitian and Nutritionist

Written by Mahnoor Syed, Certified Dietitian and Nutritionist. Updated on December 18, 2022.

Different groups of people opt for a variety of diets that suit their lifestyle and according to their culture or religion.

Among many different kinds of diets, the vegan diet is popular and is gaining more limelight in recent years. But is it more expensive than a traditional diet?

The majority of a vegan diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and other plant-based foods.

Vegans refrain from consuming products like dairy and eggs that come from animals. According to research from the UK, the number of people eating a vegan diet has surged by 350% in the previous ten years.

A vegan diet is advantageous to the human body as it supports our different systems such as the digestive system, coronary system, circulatory system, etc.

Some major health benefits of a vegan diet are:

  • Encourage weight loss
  • Lowers cholesterol levels to reduce your chance of developing heart disease
  • Reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancers, such as colon cancer
  • Lower HbA1C levels to control diabetes

Is Eating Vegan Cheaper or More Expensive?

Contrary to the myth that a vegan diet is costly, eating a whole-foods plant-based diet is not expensive at all.

Consuming whole foods like oats, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, soy, lupins or lupin fluor), whole grains, seasonal fruits, and vegetables is quite affordable and may result in saving lots of money.

A vegan diet is a budget-friendly diet as well as a healthy and nutritious diet.

The perception that a vegan diet is expensive is because processed vegan foods like vegan brats and vegan burgers may be very expensive.

According to a study in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition (Flynn & Scheff, 2015), those who eat meat can save $750 annually by simply consuming a more plant-based diet.

Another recent study suggests that vegans spend 40% less on food overall as compared to non-vegans. This research depicts that a vegan diet is not only health-supportive but also cost-effective.

Tips to Make Vegan Diet Budget-Friendly

If you want to remain within your budget and are still willing to achieve your health goals, a whole-food plant-based diet is key.

This diet can be more helpful in cost-saving if you follow these tips:

  • You will save money by purchasing the ingredients and cooking the food at home because prepared food is typically more expensive than the food you make yourself.
  • Always purchase seasonal food, and opt for frozen instead of fresh when the price difference is significant.
  • Try to buy dry goods in bulk, such as grain, flour, legumes, pasta, and nuts.
  • Make a meal plan and cook accordingly to avoid wastage of ingredients.
  • You should prepare beans and rice in bulk so that you may eat leftovers or save them for later.

Cheap Vegan Foods

Inexpensive plant-based foods are of great importance to save you a lot of money and provide you with plenty of health benefits at the same time.

1. Oats

Oats are rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They can be beneficial to lower cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar levels and relieve constipation, and therefore, it should not be surprising that it is one of the favorite breakfasts around the world.

1 cup of serving includes:

  • Energy: 303 calories
  • Carbs: 52 grams
  • Protein: 13 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams

Also, they have a long shelf life and oats will last at least 1 to 2 years unopened or stored in an air-tight container, so you can buy them in bulk to reduce costs.

2. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are another popular vegan food that is healthy and easy to make. They are rich in plant-based proteins and it gives you a feeling of fullness.

Moreover, being rich in fiber makes it healthy for our digestive system.

Healthy brain, blood sugar regulation, and prevention of certain diseases e.g., heart disease and cancers are some of the health benefits of consuming chickpeas or chickpeas flour.

You can also boost your chickpea intake by substituting regular pasta with pasta made of chickpea flour.

  • Energy: 269 calories
  • Carbs: 45 grams
  • Protein: 14.5 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams

3. Lentils

Legumes are vegan staple foods, and another star of a vegan diet is lentils. They are highly affordable and delicious.

It can lower the levels of cholesterol and prevents constipation. Also, it gives protection against colon cancer and diabetes.

Lentils have a vast variety e.g., brown, green, yellow, and red, etc.

  • Energy: 230 calories
  • Carbs: 40 grams
  • Protein: 18 grams
  • Fat: 0.8 grams

4. Nuts

Nuts are very popular among vegans. They are scrumptious, useful, and appropriate for all kinds of diets, from vegan to keto diet.

Although nuts are high in fat content, it’s mostly unsaturated fatty acids or healthy fat. They also contain a high amount of protein and fiber.

However, nuts are high in calories so you should be careful about portion size.

Some commonly consumed nuts are:

They are loaded with antioxidants, help lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your body, helps in reduce inflammation, and are high in fiber which is beneficial to your body.

Nuts are exceptional food to consume and are great for snacking as well. They are less costly and more nutritious.

5. Fruits

One of the blessings of nature for everyone, especially for vegans are fruits.

Rich in fibers, vitamins, and minerals, these wonders have many other health benefits. Fruits decrease the risks of heart disease, many types of cancers, stroke, obesity, overweight and neurological disorders.

6. Vegetables

Vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, beets, pumpkin, garlic, olive oil, and olives are the best vegan foods when it comes to providing essential nutrients.

These foods are a significant source of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Make sure to heap a ton of broccoli on your plate. This extremely nutritious vegetable is packed with advantages. Calcium is one of the biggest advantages of eating a lot of broccoli for dinner.

Eating broccoli is another way to get calcium in your diet, particularly for vegans who don’t consume dairy products.

Incorporate Brussels sprouts in a variety of ways into your vegan diet. Antioxidants, which are essential for warding off pathogens and even assisting in the prevention of malignant diseases in the body, are built into Brussels sprouts.

Expensive Vegan Foods

Like cheaper sources of a vegan diet, there are some expensive sources as well. They are delicious no doubt but on the other hand, these expensive items can make you spend lots of money, and are usually more processed and less healthy choices than whole-food, unprocessed foods mentioned before.

1. Milk Substitutes

Plant-based milks, such as ones made from oats, almonds, soy, peas, or cashew are very popular vegan drinks.

Especially for individuals controlling their weight, plant milk is much more nutrient-dense than dairy milk because it is a low-carb, low-calorie alternative. In actuality, they are risk-free for those who are lactose intolerant.

Plant-based milk costs almost twice as much at retail as dairy milk. The costlier blending and bottling procedures, in addition to the packaging, are responsible for the higher price.

2. Vegan Burgers

Because vegetarian substitutes are produced on a smaller scale than beef, plant-based burger production is more expensive.

Preparing a typical beef burger is less expensive than making plant-based meats.

In addition to that, prepared meals will always cost more than home-cooked meals.

Vegan burgers are encouraging for vegetarians and are phenomenal substitutes for beef or chicken burger in taste and texture, but they are costly and can be compromising your budget.

3. Vegan Cheese

Vegans must find an alternative to cheese because, like butter, cheese is manufactured from dairy.

Giving up cheese can occasionally be one of the vegan lifestyle’s most challenging changes, substitutes that resemble real cheese in flavor and texture are commonly requested by vegans.

This approach is difficult and expensive. Nuts, soy yogurt, and soy milk are the major components of vegan cheeses. Protein, gums, and fats are all used by producers to create the “mouth-feel” of dairy cheese.

Vegan cheeses are expensive exactly as they are, and the production processes are equally time-consuming and costly. It takes a lot of research and development to create vegan cheeses that melt and taste like genuine cheese.

4. Soy Products

Vegans typically eat products made from soybeans since they are a wonderful source of protein.

Due to their solid textures, products like different types of tofu and tempeh make excellent meat alternatives as well. These products are highly adaptable and may be prepared in a variety of ways.

Tempeh has a richer, nuttier flavor than tofu, which is flavorless and frequently takes on the flavors of the foods it is cooked with.

However, these products could be pricey, especially in the United States. One of the reasons could be that large-scale soybean farming consumes land that could be utilized to produce more profitable crops such as corn and wheat.

5. Vegan Chocolate

If you love chocolate and are a vegan, you must be extremely cautious. The reason is the high price of vegan chocolate.

Even dark chocolate, which is normally dairy-free, frequently contains refined white sugar. Many varieties of chocolate contain milk.

Despite not being an animal product directly, white sugar is not vegan because it goes through a refining process that involves bone char.

For instance, since almonds are expensive, producing almond milk is more expensive than producing ordinary milk.


It is now clear that a vegan diet is a budget-friendly and inexpensive diet, especially if you stick to a whole food, plant-based diet, and avoid meat substitutes and other processed vegan foods.

However, you should always look up ingredients or foods that are expensive and may disturb your budget and try to avoid those so you can keep your diet simple and easy.

Opting vegan diet can bring lots of colors and flavors to your lifestyle. But it must be noted that for ideal body nutrients needed by your body, you must have proper awareness of what makes up a well-balanced vegan diet.

Moreover, look up alternatives of meat, egg, milk, etc. so that you do not miss out on essential nutrients.

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