According to research from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, avoiding meat and dairy may significantly help lower the grocery bill of overweight Americans, decreasing food costs by 16% (which would save more than $500 a year). 

The study is titled “Vegan Diet and Food Costs Among Adults With Overweight. A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial” and it was published in September 2023 in JAMA Network Open.

Participants in the study (who were overweight as they were part of another study in 2021 where this was an important factor) were randomly assigned to either a control group or a vegan group, and the latter followed a low-fat vegan diet from grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Each participant’s dietary records were linked up with food price data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan, 2021.

Among plant-based eaters, overall food costs declined by $1.51 daily, while no significant change was detected in the control group. The authors of the study say that the cost of meat (-$1.77 per day) and dairy (-$0.74 per day) were the most significant factors of these results. Those eating the vegan diet spent more on vegetables (+$1.03 per day), fruits (+$0.40 per day), legumes (+$0.30 per day), whole grains (+$0.30 per day), and meat and dairy alternatives, but the money they save by avoiding animal food products still resulted in higher savings.

Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and co-author of the study, said, “We knew that a vegan diet significantly reduces your risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity — and now we have proof that opting for beans instead of beef will also lead to significant savings on your grocery bill.” 

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.