Plant-Based Diet Myth: It’s Expensive

moneyOne of the most baffling  things people say to me is “I would love to eat a plant based diet, but that is just too expensive!” I am always a little blown away but this assertion. I go to the grocery store and I watch food prices closely. . .

It was nice to find a discussion about this in The Starch Solution. Here, John McDougall states that a plant-based diet averages $4,000 savings per person per year. Or savings of  $333 per month.  You can read his discussion on pages 203-206 or search for “Food Costs” on your digital device.

For our household (just the two of us) that means saving about $650 per month. That, by the way is about what we currently spend each month.  In other words if we started eating animal based products we would double our monthly food costs.  Just in case I need another reason to stay on a plant-based diet that would work!

These figures actually parallel my weekly local supermarket price check.  Last week steak and salmon cost about $10.00 per pound for good cuts, hamburger was $2.77 and chicken breasts were $3.00 per pound.  On the plant-based side I saw brown rice at $1.75, dried beans at $1.50 per pound, a pound of tofu for $3.00 and a pound of nuts cost $4.00.  Based on this, the logic of saying that eating a plant based diet is expensive totally escapes me!

I have been pondering this for the last couple of days and then this morning I stumbled across an article about food prices.  The takeaway for me, was the author’s presentation of average food prices.  The prices were based on kilo weight, so I created a table that translate it from kilos to pounds.  What it clear shows is that pound per pound fruits and vegetables cost less than anything but chicken.

food price

I realize that you can make a plant-based diet as expensive as you want; all you have to do is eat a lot of meat substitutes. A quick price checks shows that a  20oz can of Worthington Vegetarian burger is $13.60  or $10.88 per pound.  OUCH!!  The price is enough to put anyone off, but just in case it doesn’t, then consider the list of ingredients.  Ingredients include 3 additives that contain excitotoxins:  yeast extract, soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed soy protein.  Not recommended food for anyone!

You can also buy prepared meals  and frozen foods; particularly those marketed as vegan, organic or natural. The problem with this is that not only are these foods artificially expensive, they are often “enhanced” with additives.

You can impulse shop, consume pounds of nuts and buy organic exotic out of season fruits and veggies.  They will quickly increase the cost of eating a plant based diet.   I know, since I am a big fan of instant gratification and have splurged more than once!

Still not convinced?  How about this?

Take a field trip to your local grocery store and do some price comparison shopping.  Check out the price per pounds of various meats, seafood and dairy products.  Then look at the cost per pound of plant-based foods like veggies, fruit, grains and legumes. Write them down in a note book.  Take the note book home and create a spreadsheet.  The results will probably look a lot like the table above.  For me it is easy to make the case that pound for pound, plant-based foods look pretty cheap.

And, if you need more motivation, think about how much money it saves you to be healthy and medication free.  All of a sudden the plant based eating looks like a huge bargain.!

About Genene Cote

Genene Coté -- Nutrition Advocate, Counselor and Coach who is also a Whole Food Plant Based Eater (vegetarian/vegan), cook and gardener.
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