Living the Vegan Lifestyle on a budget can seem extremely difficult. With the cost of most vegan food items being so high, to a layperson, the vegan lifestyle may even seem like it’s specifically made for the wealthy. Because of the costs and the respective lack of availability when compared to non-vegan products, vegan products, and veganism in extension seem to be inaccessible.
However, as is the case with most situations in life, there are workarounds. There are ways or steps which, if followed, would allow anyone to live the vegan life while spending just as much, or potentially even lesser than they do on their current diets! Let’s look at the main cause for this apparent inaccessibility of Veganism!
Why the Vegan Diet seems expensive?
When we talk about being costly, the products that we are actually referring to are the ones that are aimed at being direct or close substitutes to non-vegan foods. Such foods try to replicate with the taste, the texture, the smell, the look, or all of these attributes of non-vegan foods in an attempt to appeal to a slightly wider audience. However, since Veganism is a relatively new concept in India, the demand for vegan products is still nowhere near that of non-vegan products, though it is growing at a rapid rate. The lack of demand leads to a lack of supply, which in turn means that the cost of vegan products is never able to compete with that of non-vegan products. Add to this the severe disadvantage when it comes to the relatively meagre amount of time for which R&D has been conducted for Vegan products when compared to Vegan products, and it’s no wonder why vegan products cost more! For a deep dive into why vegan products cost as much as they do, check out our blog - Why is Vegan Food Costly? – Vegan Dukan.
Now that we’ve understood why some vegan products are expensive, let us get to why you’ve come to this blog in the first place - The steps to successfully follow a vegan lifestyle on a budget. We’ve divided the steps into 3 broad categories for ease of understanding.
Steps to being Vegan on a budget
A.) While Planning:
- Create a food budget and track your expenses - A step that’s often overlooked by most people, tracking and setting a budget not only lets you actively work towards avoiding overspending, but also helps you in figuring out what items are contributing to the overspending in the first place!
- Start meal planning - Meal Planning is a great way to give oneself the time to take proper stalk of everything that’s already stocked in-house. This lets you put existing items to use instead of buying new items every time while your old items go to waste. It also allows one to better plan the items that may need to be bought. We urge that during this process, you be generous with your portion sizes and also include snacks! This would avoid situations where you’re left hungry with nothing to eat, causing you to questions the entire meal planning process!
- Choose simple recipes - Going with simple instead of complex recipes will let you save on the cost of many ingredients, without necessarily skipping on any of the taste and flavour!
- Choose nutrient-dense foods - While enjoying one’s food is important, what’s even more important is that the food meets one’s nutritional needs. However, this does not have to come at the expense of taste! Choosing Nutrient-Dense foods and ingredients instead of high fat, low nutrition ingredients is a great way of ensuring that your meals have all the nutrition you need, with all the taste that you want!
- Look for the Easy Replacements - We often crave dishes that require some expensive ingredients. Dishes such as Soya Buurji or Vegan Curd can be ordered from outside, but can also be made at home at relatively inexpensive costs! Hence it is often better to go the DIY route, especially if sticking to a budget is the primary concern!
B.) While Shopping:
- Buy in larger quantities - One of the best practices while shopping is looking for ‘per-unit costs’. These are available on most packages and can be easily calculated for others. What most of you will find as you start your journey to being vegan on a budget is that products in larger quantities will in most cases cost less per unit than if bought as single units. Another benefit of buying in larger quantities is that you could use the food for a longer period of time, say 2 weeks, given that the food doesn't spoil quickly and lasts as long. Hence buying in larger quantities can give you a 2 pronged advantage!
- Buy in-season foods - As our elders often say, in-season fruits and vegetables are the best! Not only are they tastier and healthier than other products, but they are also usually cheaper! Hence buying in-season foods is a wise decision to take!
- Stick to your grocery lists - Impulse shopping is the arch-enemy of saving money! Seeing all those delicious using foods and ingredients on shopping mart aisles or on e-commerce websites (like ours :P) often tempts us to buy stuff that looks great now, but which we may not necessarily need! It may also lead to food getting spoilt later on due to excess, which also leads to money wastage. Hence, sticking to our shopping lists as we shop, whether it be online or offline, is always a safe step to take!
- Eat before you shop - How many of you have experienced this before? You’re in the shopping mart, picking up your rations, and there! Your favourite snack, that delicious ice cream, those soft marshmallows, so close! Just one packet! How much could it possibly cost! And it’s just once! You don’t plan on buying it every time, do you, just this once! Well, such situations can be avoided or somewhat negated, if you simply eat before shopping. That directly reduces cravings, which in turn reduces those impulse purchases!
- Visit Farmer Markets - While this may not always be possible, especially given the current, pandemic ridden situation of the world, farmer markets are a great place to get a wide variety of fresh produce, and to score an absolute deal!
- Prepare your own meals - Order from outside can definitely be very convenient and time-saving! But it can also be extremely costly and hence difficult to maintain when on a tight budget! Preparing one’s own meals can be a great alternative for saving a lot of money. It also provides you with a lot of granularity about the use of ingredients that you shop for!
- Freeze your Leftovers - Freezing one’s leftovers might seem a bit off at first, but this is an interesting option to check out! the ability makes! Freezing your fruits and vegetables gives you the ability to use ripe or even overripe fruits and vegetables later on in delicious fruit smoothies or vegetable soups. This allows you to reduce wastage and save money!
Following these steps will certainly help you in living a vegan lifestyle on a budget!
Good Luck on your journey to a Healthier, Happier you!