Is Being Vegan Cheaper Than Eating Meat?

A recent study found that being vegan is 59% cheaper than eating meat. But despite this overall statistic, not all vegan meals are cheaper than their meat counterparts. As you should become aware, being Vegan is not healthier or cheaper in itself. Just like omnivores, you can be a healthy vegan or a junk food vegan. You could spend a lot of money as a vegan or you can be vegan on a budget. This article will give you an introduction to get started on the topic.

is being vegan cheaper

It Depends on What Vegan Foods You Buy

If you choose a healthier plant-based diet, you will most likely find yourself paying less at the cash register in the grocery store. Take a look at recipes that are considered part of the Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB) diet.

If you want to remain on the cheaper side, start looking for foods that are in their whole and natural form:

  • Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas), black beans, etc.,
  • Brown rice (Healthier than white rice, but a little more expensive),
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, and
  • Avoiding adding impulse buys to your shopping cart.

These single-ingredient foods are often cheaper because the companies that sell them don't have to go through an expensive process of developing recipes, processing the food, and everything that's involved in starting a vegan food brand.

These Vegan Foods Are More Expensive

At the time of writing this (2021), the cost of many vegan "alternatives" have higher price tags than their meat counterparts and then the more natural approach. 

While they may taste better, if you're on a budget, you'll find yourself paying more at the cash register if you add the following things to your shopping cart:

  • Fake Vegan Meats (Beyond Burgers, Tofurky deli slices, etc.),
  • Vegan cheeses,
  • Organic oat milk,
  • Vegan ice creams,
  • Specialty items (Shiitake mushroom 'beef' jerky, etc.)

Why Are Some Foods Cheaper than Others?

Part of the reason why these items are currently more expensive than their meat counterparts is due to economies of scale.

When a ground beef, bacon, or chicken company sells an item such as a pack of chicken thighs, those companies have been optimizing their production process for decades. They learned how to get costs down by building out factories, creating quotas and protocols, and things like that.

When a company gets to the point when they can pack 100,000 burgers in a day, the cost per burger goes down and they pass on these savings to the consumer.

When a Vegan company like Beyond Meat comes into the mix, their volume is still catching up. They have to pay out of pocket for production costs, build new factories, pay higher prices for raw ingredients because they order lower quantities from their suppliers, etc. For this reason, it'll cost more money to produce each item - a cost that you pay for at the cash register.

Vegan Food Will Be Cheaper Over Time

Over time, as these new vegan companies grow, the cost of eating these vegan 'alternative' foods will become cheaper as well. This depends on a number of factors such as the optimization of their factories and consumer demand.

In short, the more you buy their products, the more you support their company. As an ethical Vegan myself, I understand that we play an important role in supporting these Vegan businesses because they are a gateway to a healthier life.

How to Make Vegan Foods Cheaper

If you'd like to get an in-depth understanding how the economics behind the meat and dairy industry work, and why they are artificially lower than they should be; we had the opportunity to interview David Simon, author of the famous book Meatonomics.

Some bullet points from the interview:

  1. Animal farmers lose an average of $8 per pig killed and $20-$90 per cow sent to slaughter.
  2. The government uses taxpayer money to prop up this unprofitable industry.
  3. The true cost of a $5 burger at a fast food restaurant is actually closer to $13 when you take in account back-end costs like government subsidies and healthcare costs related to a poor diet.
  4. With the government bailing out the industry, cash register prices go down, demand for meat goes up, therefore making the cycle continue on.
  5. The best way to change this unbalanced food system is to vote with your dollars and start buying Vegan alternatives to the meat and dairy you are used to consuming. With more demand for these plant-based options, these companies will eventually scale up and being vegan becomes cheaper than eating meat.

But depending on your financial position, this may be hard. We suggest to go in moderation and focus your attention on buying foods in their whole food natural form.

Plan your meals, don't impulse buy things, try it out for a week, and let us know how much you've saved!

Learn More About Lowering the Cost of Vegan

Watch the interview below and don't forget to check out our homepage at to learn more about our vegan subscription boxes full of healthy and delicious plant-based foods, with a new theme every month.

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