In the past couple of years veganism has become one of the most popular nutrition and lifestyle trends amongst everyone from celebs to athletes pioneering a new outlook on the food industry and our environmental footprint.
There is a clear divide between the stereotypical vegan who asks you how you think Flora, the young cow you’re probably eating would have felt knowing her life purpose was to sit between two slices of bread, and the die-hard carnivores who feel faint at the idea of a meatless existence. And then there are the fegans (fake vegans, obviously) who like to dip in and out of the diet depending on the company they’re keeping/ what they’re craving/ how drunk they are.
And whether you see the value of a plant-based diet or not, you can’t really argue with the exponential growth of its popularity and the scientific evidence that supports making the switch. According to Dr Terri Holloway, a qualified nutritionist “Vegans, on average, have lower rates of obesity and lower BMIs than any other dietary group, and are also less likely than meat eaters to suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, strokes, several cancers, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.”
But most people don’t give that much of a shit about the potential health implications because they’re more often than not just some sort of underhand marketing tactic- anyone else remember when crisps could reportedly give you cancer? You probably don’t because people forget bullshit like that and no one is going to give up a harmless bag of beef McCoys any time soon.
So I wanted to determine whether being vegan could save me some money because at this moment in time, as a young millennial, any opportunity to spend less on grocery shopping and more on getting someone else who can actually cook to whip up something in a restaurant gets my attention.
For the most part, being vegan can save you money but it’s partly because sometimes there is just nothing for you to eat unless you’ve gone to a specific vegan restaurant- which is kind of cheating. It does, though, encourage you to decline eating junk because most things you love that make your life at least moderately bearable aren’t vegan. Like ‘mainstream’ chocolate, ice cream, your run-of-the-mill sandwich, mayo and cheese. You’ll probably spend a lot of time blankly staring at products in the shop that you can no longer eat and opt for a single banana so you can swiftly leave the shop before an assistant asks you why you’re crying by the meal deals.
And although you can buy vegan substitutes they can be pricey and they often taste nothing like the product they claim to mimic. For example, vegan cheese isn't really anything like actual cheese other than maybe the colour. And the people who claim it tastes the same are lying to you- and themselves.
Cooking vegan can be cheaper, though, because a tin of chickpeas is a millionth of the price of a chicken breast. I mean, it's basic maths. If you’re into adventurous cooking however, you’ll probably have to fork out for weird ingredients like vital wheat gluten or nutritional yeast which all sounds a bit gross and also isn't that common in a local corner shop.
So what's the verdict?
In some ways, being an all-out vegan is really a brutal assault on your bank balance because you can’t buy the cheap shit unless you want to only eat veggies and fruit. In which case, you'll be starving and likely to cave on a night out when all of a sudden kebab meat looks miraculously vegan to your malnourished drunken self.
I do suggest though that if being vegan for you isn’t about the environment or the animals but is instead about potentially saving money, then at least try being a quasi-vegan. You do end up making more informed choices about the food you eat and the stuff you buy and it makes saying no to things really easy because you have a legitimate excuse now. “Ah shit sorry I can’t go halves on that Domino’s pizza that I really fucking want right now- I’m vegan.”
For more help managing your money, download Loot here. The app lets you create daily and weekly budgets and lets you put money aside for the stuff you really want.