the price of veganism

sometimes, when it comes to explaining the benefits of veganism, i’m not very good at thinking on my feet while simultaneously remaining causal. i either falter and can’t think of the intelligent thing to say, or i know exactly what to say but i end up getting too fired up about it.

the other day i was talking to a lacto-ovo who is near and dear to my heart, and she is extremely vegan-leaning (especially outside of the diet issue), but not vegan. i think she’d really like to get there in theory, but she has thus far figured out lots of reasons not to. i haven’t judged her and i haven’t pushed her. but the other day, she let me know that she’d finally found a soymilk she could stand, and told me that there hadn’t been any cow’s milk in the house for several days. we chatted about that and some adjacent topics for awhile, when she suddenly said, “but i just couldn’t give up my candy.” i said, “are you kidding me? i eat candy constantly! just this afternoon i ate way more candy than i should admit,” to which she replied, “yeah, well, you guys have a lot more expendable income than we do.”

i didn’t even know what to say to that. i really don’t see veganism as expensive. am i clueless? i mean in all honesty, i eat lots and lots and lots of the exact same stuff i ate before (i.e., when i was lacto-ovo)… just without the cheese. i mean i guess vegan sour cream might cost more than dairy sour cream, but i’ve scaled back a lot on my sour cream consumption in general, so maybe i’m not noticing price hikes like i should. but i was kind of baffled and the only thing i could think of to say was, “beans and rice are pretty cheap, dude,” and that sounded cranky so instead i allowed whatever interruption had just occurred to create a change in topic.

i’d kind of like to revisit the topic with her, though. does anyone know if there good sources that talk about the money issue, and whether it’s “expensive to be vegan” or if that’s just a myth?

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6 comments

  1. Only rich people can be vegan? That’s just a lazy excuse. It’s way cheaper to be vegan as long as you don’t spend all your money on processed stuff. Just search “cheaper” and “vegan” on Google and you’ll see tons of stuff about it.

  2. it’s expensive to be HEALTHY. i don’t think there’s much difference in the cost of eating vegan, lacto-ovo, omni. processed crap foods are cheaper than healthier ones. you can get $1 burger at mcdonalds, and that doesn’t mean it is the right food choice either. i look at it as preventitive medicine. eat healthy, pay a little more now, don’t die of heart attack or have lots of medical bills later on from poor health
    aside from that i wouldn’t know what else to say. except that there is always another place to trim the budget for little splurges. and i am very poor, but it is a priority for me to eat healthier.

  3. I think that the price of your food depends on how you eat, rather than what kind of diet you follow. If you buy fruits and vegetables, dried beans, and large quantities of rice, that’s pretty cheap and pretty vegan. I was a very, very strict vegan (with two very strict vegan roommates) all the way through my poorest university student days. We loved good food so we cooked from scratch every day. We loved sweets so we bought lots of baking staples and consistantly made our own treats. I almost never ate at restaurants and I always brought lunch and snacks with me to class. Some things, like vegan margerine, always seem to be more expensive, but, on the whole, I think it’s up to the individual.
    J.

  4. I dunno about candy in general, but I think vegan chocolate can run more expensive. I haven’t checked those “OMG who knew it was vegan???” lists for grocery store (ie. cheap) brands, but I know buying my beloved Terra Nostra pomegranate truffle bars is way more expensive than, say, Hershey’s.
    That said, I agree w/your “rice + beans = cheap” point. Plus, as folks pointed out recently (here: vegansofcolor.wordpress.com/2007/12/01/veganism-is-just-another-white-privilege/ ), in a lot of places worldwide, people eat vegan b/c they can’t afford meat (or dairy). I know there is different context in every country, & here there’s the fact that food stamps often cover stuff like cheese & meat but not fresh produce, etc. etc. etc. too tho’.

  5. thanks for the feedback, guys. i suppose there are lots of instances of “head to head” comparisons (like a chocolate bar, for instance) where veganism looks more expensive, but i guess it seems (to me) like overall it’s not an issue. i’m going to try to pay better attention.
    also, like you said, river–if you pay a little extra for good, healthy food, you get the increased benefits in the long run! tamara, thanks for the heads up about the podcast–i listened to that episode and got some good food for thought. and johanna, thanks for the link! it was a good read.

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