Why vegan food doesn’t have to be expensive

A common misconception when it comes to vegan diets is that maintaining the lifestyle is too expensive.

This is due to people generally thinking that fruits and vegetables are pricey. When it reality, it is actually meat, dairy and other animal products that takes a bigger toll on your pockets.

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A vegan diet can be cheap when buying the necessities, such as bread, frozen veg, in season fruits and vegetables; herbs and dried pulses can be bought in bulk. 

This post is going to cover the myths and truths about a vegan diet, when it comes to cost, convenience, and efficiency of your regular weekly shop.

Is vegan food expensive?

Yes, if you overdo the processed stuff, like vegan cheeses, yoghurts, faux meats, sandwich fillers and veganised versions of your favourite ice cream brand. Typically at around £3+ per item,

it’s no wonder why people think vegan food is expensive. However, when you consider that meat; generally consumed as the main “star” of the meal is a lot more expensive as a general ingredient; you then realise vegan food isn’t expensive at all in comparison. 

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In reality, the essential vegan foods that you’d include on your shopping list wouldn’t amount to much; especially compared to the typical weekly shop for an omnivore.

It just takes a little perspective and savvy shopper knowledge; but if you want to give veganism a go, it won’t hurt your pocket. In fact, you’d be saving money.

Why do people think vegan food is expensive?

People think vegan food is expensive as they associate it with expensive vegan products such as almond and oat milk, vegan cheeses; frozen goods from faux meats to ice cream brands.

These vegan options tend to almost always have a higher price markup than the meat-containing version that the option is substituting for. 

When it comes to the big name branded faux meats, we’re talking Quorn, Tofurkey, Gardein, Beyond Meat, etc; Violife and other vegan cheese options, these products do tend to be a bit more pricey. 

Plant-based milks are also more expensive than regular cow’s milk, and when shopping in the Ice Cream aisle, vegan Ben & Jerry’s is ridiculously expensive. 

One of the main issues people think vegan food is expensive is the fact that when people usually buy vegetables, they usually end up going off and getting thrown away, and seen as pricey – an expense. 

People also often link a vegan diet/lifestyle with one solely relying on fresh produce is expensive. 

Vegan food can be pricey at restaurants

A lot of the time, the sad truth is that vegan options, is many vegan-only restaurants are generally more pricey as compared to getting a non-vegan 99p burger elsewhere.

However the price you pay goes to a cause that doesn’t result in animal cruelty, an investment into quality over quantity.

Fortunately not all vegan options are expensive, some places like Wasabi have vegan mini sushi boxes and bentos; other places also cater to us too, we should let go of the illusion that living as a vegan is expensive. 

When it comes to food shopping, which people generally mistake for as more expensive when cutting out the meat and dairy, shopping vegan not only need not be expensive, with smart choices you can end up saving money instead.

Vegan food shopping compared to “general” shopping

The reality when you buy fruits and vegetables in season, is that they are significantly cheaper, and you can find all kinds of deals while supporting local farmers’ markets. 

Going back to the point about why people think vegan food is expensive, it’s due to their general misunderstanding of the simplicity of the lifestyle, which is commonly viewed as rather complex and restrictive. 

When it comes to vegetables, legumes, as well as naturally vegan pastas and grains, those foods are significantly cheaper than meat. Consider that 2 steaks in Tesco is £4, which feeds two; a bag of dried green lentils can be as little as £1, which can cook to about 8 servings. 

The value is drastically different, and with the price of those two steaks, you could have bought yourself a cucumber, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, as well as the green lentils, and had an entire meal’s worth of ingredients for the same price – A banging lentil salad. 

With the same price in question, let’s say a pack of pasta, red lentils, chopped tomatoes, basil and garlic; another example of a whole meal’s worth of ingredients; you could get for the same price as one pack of steaks. 

Vegan food compared to other foods

Contrary to popular belief, foods that are naturally vegan, i.e. oats, rice, pasta, beans and pulses, fruits and vegetables are generally cheap -ranging from less than £1-£3 per item. 

People tend to use meat as a base to their meals; they can expect to pay around £3-£6 for a lean meat product. We as vegans instead use legumes, vegetables and grains to base our meals. 

So the raw ingredients needed to make these recipes will add up to less; with the surplus of vegetables that are left over, or dried beans; as compared to meat; which is usually done with after 1 or 2 meals – And has a short shelf life.

Common cow’s milk is usually cheaper than vegan milk alternatives, as well as cheese, eggs, pastries and general confectionery which generally contain animal products.

These non-vegan versions of these food usually cost a lot less to the ever-growing “free from” range, which is usually £1-£2 more, or considerably more per product, gram for gram.

Nuts are usually more pricey if you are more down the plant-based or raw route; if you prefer your nuts more unadulterated, per say.

Salted nut brands tend to be accidentally vegan snacks anyways; as well as large packs of roasted monkey nuts, which don’t tend to cost much; you can get your healthy fats and protein without breaking your wallet.

But with the main essentials, i.e. bread, pasta, grains, greens, fruits, herbs, fresh and frozen veg, you don’t have to spend too much to have a solid weeks’ shop.

These plant-based ingredients in a worldwide sense are generally cheaper than if you were to buy raw meat. Which if you remember, back in history it started being eaten as a “luxury”; in terms of general shopping, you’ll spend less without it. 


Living as a vegan doesn’t need to be costly, or inconvenient. It’s easy to go vegan and it doesn’t cost a lot – at all. 

The best thing you can do if trying to adapt to a vegan diet is to make sure that you have as much as an open mind as possible, and be open to experimentation. Play with different ingredients and flavours and plan your meals in advance. 

With merely a tenner, you can get a bag of onions, rice, dried lentils, dried chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, kale, pasta and mushrooms. Think about what you can do with the following ingredients, then plan your meals ahead.

You’ll save a lot more, and you can then be able to treat yourself more to the premium priced vegan items, and restaurants. Just remember – a vegan diet doesn’t have to cost lots.