A new study has finally debunked the myth that the vegan diet is inherently more expensive than other diets. It shows that, on the contrary, if you look solely at the costs of the ingredients, a vegan diet actually costs a third less than the current “western” diets with high amounts of meat and dairy.
The research, published in the prestigious journal Lancet Planetary Health, is titled “The global and regional costs of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns: a modeling study”. It was conducted by Oxford’s researchers Marco Springmann, Michael A Clark, Prof Mike Rayner, Peter Scarborough, and Prof Patrick Webb
The authors used data from the World Bank, and data on over 460 products from markets around the world, to calculate the average cost of different food groups — such as rice, fruits and vegetables, legumes and fish — per country. They also used data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to calculate what would be in a typical vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, and pescatarian diet.
They estimated that the typical western diet costs about US$50 per week per person, while flexitarian diets cost around $42 per person per week, vegetarian diets as low as $34, and vegan diets as low as $33. Switching to a more plant-based diet could save almost $900 per person every year.
Leading author Marco Springmann said: “The important thing to keep in mind here is that the data we used refers to the costs of basic ingredients – such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and so on. We didn’t include ready-made meals, takeaways, or highly processed foods such as plant-based burgers. That means, if you want to realize these savings, go for minimally processed foods and try out some new recipes. That’s not only better for your wallet, but will in most cases also healthier and more sustainable than diets based on highly processed foods.”
The study also looked at how we could bring down the cost of healthy food in low-income countries. They found that when economic development in poor regions was paired with efforts to reduce food waste and the introduction of health and climate-friendly food pricing, cheap sustainable diets could be achieved in these countries within a decade. We will need this if we are to stop climate change. Now that we have eliminated the classical vegan sceptic myth, there should be even fewer excuses not to become vegan when living in developed countries. We already knew that a natural wholemeal unprocessed vegan diet not only is healthier, but also has a lower Carbon Footprint, and a lower Blood Footprint. Now we know that is cheaper too.