I wrote about this topic many years ago, but there are still people who are convinced veganism is too expensive for them that I want to revisit this obstacle and help you tackle it.
Many individuals fear that while they would love to eat plant-based, their wallet might not be so happy about it. This is completely understandable as there are alternatives to meat that cost 5€ or more, and they can barely feed one human.
Plant-based milk can cost up to 3€ if you want a specific brand and better taste. Not to mention how expensive ice-creams can be and the small fortune you spend on cruelty-free and vegan cleaning products.
But there is one thing missing from this.
You don’t have to buy all of these things.
It is a choice to spend 8€ on Ben & Jerry’s. It is a choice to spend 3€ on soy milk from Alpro. It is a choice to spend 4€ on vegan schnitzel. It is a choice to spend 20€ on a handful of cleaning products when you can DIY everything for a few cents!
Most vegans don’t eat pineapple, mango and fruit bowl every day. We don’t even eat sweet potatoes often because they can be quite pricey where I come from.
Instagram is not real life. YouTube vlogs are not real life.
Influencers who are creating all these what to eat as a vegan videos are very privileged in most cases and do not represent the majority of plant-based individuals.
They are influencers for a reason. Models. Wannabe celebrities. Privileged kids who don’t know the cost of bread and how to prepare a meal for 4 people that costs less than 2€.
If you actually want to eat plant-based, let me share how real people eat. People who have a budget, limitations, and often eat the same thing every day.
Here is how to be vegan on a budget:
- Create a meal plan.
To make smart decisions while shopping, you need to be a smart planner.
You need to know what you will eat throughout the week, how many people you will cook for, and how long the meals will take to prepare. It may seem intense but when you are on a budget, you do what you have to do.
What this will do is help you get a very clear idea of what food items you will need to purchase, when you will have to start cooking to finish before your other scheduled tasks, and how much of the food you’ll need to prepare in the first place.
It will be a bit hard and annoying at first, but after a few weeks, you will get used to it as it will save you time and money.
- Go for the basics.
While eating fancy foods that are rarely available at your store is an exciting experience, it can really hit your wallet hard if you get used to doing it often.
I love pineapples and avocadoes but they can cost up to 5€ and wanting to have avocado on toast for breakfast every day can easily get me in trouble.
A better way would be to buy the basics – like apples, oats, bananas and peanut butter – and create delicious but budget-friendly meals.
Same for lunch and dinner.
Although I mostly eat salads or macaroni, they are always so diverse that you could never get bored of it. I make an excellent salad with 7 different vegetables and I am not even counting nuts, seeds and herbs that are added at the end.
A typical dinner can sometimes cost me less than 1.50€, especially because a pack of macaroni, and a pack of mixed nuts and seeds, can last for many days.
Basics are good and they allow you to be creative in the kitchen!
- Diverse plants, not brands.
I love supporting brands that offer a wide variety of plant-based products, but at the end of the day, they are all the same. Different packaging, same old hummus.
What you should focus on, is making sure your plate is as diverse as it can get. Eat by colour; eat plants.
You don’t need to drink plant milk, but you do need calcium. While it is nice to know the difference between Alpro and Joya beverages, you need to eat your greens first.
Too many vegans are focused on consuming different types of meats and not enough on getting 6 different veggies in their belly on a regular basis. If you can’t grow it yourself, it’s not a necessary part of your diet.
Eat real food. Eat food that grows on trees, on bushes, on the ground and under our wonderful soil. That is a diversity I encourage.
- Shop with a list.
You’re not you when you’re hungry. Snickers know this, that’s why they are hoping you will go to the store with your belly loudly complaining in hopes a chocolate bar charms its way into your bag.
If you want to save money when it comes to food, shop when your stomach is full.
This is where having a list comes in handy. When you know what ingredients you need for the meals you are planning to prepare, you don’t have to visit the isles that might have tempting items on shelves.
And if you do want to buy junk food, you will not get three candy bars, but just one. Being well-fed is not only going to save you money, but it will make you healthier too!
Remember, what you see on social media is not real life and the content you consume is often created by people who earn a lot more than 90% of us.
It is okay to be inspired by their meals and to learn tricks when it comes to preparing good food, but the reality is different.
I hope these four tips about how to be vegan on a budget help you eat more plant-based without stressing over how much it will cost.
When you decide to eat more healthy, sustainable meals and are willing to experiment with the whole thing, you will find joy in being vegan. It will be exciting and fun, which makes all the challenges easier.
You got this.