Many people know of the three main reasons for going vegan: health, environmental, and ethical. But most are not aware of the huge economic benefit that going vegan can have for both an individual and for the country.
Personal Grocery Savings
Contrary to popular belief, eating a daily vegan diet is one of the most affordable ways to live. Don’t get me wrong, the vegan substitutes you find in grocery stores that have a hundred different labels saying it’s “gluten-free, organic, whole wheat, soy-free, vegan and made with love!” can definitely put a dent in your wallet. But if you want to live a healthy, nutritious and delicious life with actual food, it’s so cheap!
An article by Aaron Crowe lists the best foods to buy when you’re broke as beans, brown rice, green vegetables, potatoes, frozen vegetables, peanut butter and protein bars. All of which are vegan (well, most protein bars are). A couple even spent 30 days eating off of $1 a day, and both were vegans!
The only food that can tend to get a little pricey in a vegan diet is fruit, the price of which fluctuates dramatically depending on the season. In the summer, the prices are definitely reasonable and I eat them in abundance! In the winter, I tend to eat significantly less fruit (and when I do it is usually frozen) but fruits such as apples, pears, bananas and oranges are usually very affordable year round.
Some studies even show that converting to even just a vegetarian diet can save you up to $750 a year.
A paper written by Jayson L. Lusk and F. Bailey Norwood discusses the economics involved in animal agriculture. What is most important to understand is how much it takes to raise animals for livestock and dairy. “For every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of animal protein produced, animals consume an average of almost 6 kilograms…of plant protein from grains and forage”(111).
By converting our efforts from raising livestock to growing fruits, vegetables and grains for direct human consumption, we would save drastic amounts of money because we aren’t putting in 6 times as much as we are getting out anymore.
“Obtaining a gram of protein from the cheapest meat product (broilers) is 3.26 times more costly than obtaining a gram of protein from the most expensive plant-based product (peanuts),” claim Lusk and Norwood.
Health Care and Environmental Saving
What is also important to remember is the way that going vegan or vegetarian can improve people’s overall health as well as save a substantial amount of natural resources. After all, it takes an awful lot of water to grow the feed for these animals, keep them hydrated and water their pastures and many health problems can be solved through a change in diet.
Lauren Cassani Davis’s article for the Atlantic dives deep into determining the ways in which the United States would save money through these two factors. “Out of all the world’s countries,” she claims, “the U.S. would save the most by curbing its taste for meat. Due to its very high per-capita health-care costs, the country could save $180 billion if the population ate according to recommended guidelines, and $250 billion if it eschewed animal food products altogether”
So keep this in mind next time you are strolling down the aisle of the grocery store. Perhaps it is time we start switching to more fruits and veggies, for the betterment of not only our health, but also our wallets.