Been putting off going vegan because of the cost? Don’t worry – going vegan could save you money (and help save the planet)
One of our biggest fears about switching to a plant-based diet is that it’s more expensive. Especially when newspaper headlines scream that ‘it costs an extra £2,000 a year’ to go vegetarian or vegan1. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that cutting out meat is good for both your wallet and wellbeing.
Will it cost more to go vegan?
Does it really cost an extra £2,000 a year if you cut out meat? No – that research lumped veganism in with gluten-free and halal diets.2 These ‘specialist’ diets might cost more, as followers may need to pay extra for certain items, but simply increasing the amount of plant products you eat shouldn’t increase the cost.
‘Store-cupboard essentials, such as pasta, rice and tinned vegetables, are cheap, and you’re probably buying those things already,’ says Rich Hardy from the Veganuary campaign. ‘And meat is really expensive – steak, chicken or fish may be the most pricey things in your shopping basket, not including alcohol.’
How veganism affects your food shopping
The Money Advice Service says the average family’s weekly food shop costs £53.20, with £16.30 of that going on meat, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, and other meat products. In comparison, we spend £12.80 on fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen or tinned).3 Even if you double the number of plant-based products you buy, that still costs less than the amount you were spending on both plant and animal products.
If you’re used to buying supermarket own-brand or economy versions, you may notice certain products, like vegan cheese or chocolate, are more expensive. But if you avoid heavily processed vegan foods and batch-cook most of your meals, you can stick to a budget.4
‘It depends on what you used to buy,’ says Hardy. ‘If you previously bought items like whole chickens or premium dairy products, you’ll definitely see the cost of your shopping decrease. But overall, the cost of your weekly shop is likely to stay the same or come down.’
It saves the NHS money too
While going vegan could put a few extra pounds in your pocket, it can also help with the UK’s healthcare costs. Research by the University of Oxford found that switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet could save up to £1000 billion worldwide every year on healthcare,5 mainly by reducing obesity.
Obesity increases your risk of developing major conditions such as diabetes, certain cancers and high blood pressure. A report by Public Health England estimated that the cost of obesity to the NHS would be £9.7 billion by 20506 – so reducing obesity can save the NHS money, and you get to live longer and healthier too!
The true cost of going vegan
When you buy meat, the cost isn’t just the price of the product but the impact it has on animal welfare, the environment and human wellbeing, too. While it’s important that any vegan products we buy don’t have a negative effect on the people and surroundings at source,7 going vegan is one of the easiest ways to do something good for others and your bank balance into the bargain.
Try these Vegan Peanut Butter & Banana Oat Muffins to get you started
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies
Written by Rosalind Ryan on November 15, 2018
Reviewed by Rich Hardy, head of campaigns, Veganuary on November 26, 2018 ,
1. Liz Connor. Evening Standard. It costs ‘an extra £2,000 per year to be vegan or gluten-free’, research suggests. Available from: www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/it-costs-an-extra-2000-per-year-to-be-vegan-or-glutenfree-research-suggests-a3425741.html
2. As above
3. Money Advice Service. How does your household food spend compare? Available from: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/how-does-your-household-food-spend-compare
4. The Vegan Society. Vegan on a budget. Available from: www.vegansociety.com/resources/recipes/budget/vegan-budget
5. Springman M, et al. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. Available from: www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/03/16/1523119113
6. Public Health England. Health matters – obesity and the food environment. Available from: www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-obesity-and-the-food-environment/health-matters-obesity-and-the-food-environment–2
7. Emma Henderson. The Independent. Why veganism isn’t as environmentally friendly as you might think. Available from: www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/veganism-environment-veganuary-friendly-food-diet-damage-hodmedods-protein-crops-jack-monroe-a8177541.html