Some people think that vegetarianism is expensive. They believe that you need to shell out loads of cash on specialty produce and supplements to have a healthy, balanced diet without meat.
But is this really the case? Or can you be a budget-conscious vegetarian? In this post, we’ll explore the costs of both diets and see which one comes out on top.
Why People Choose Vegetarian Diets
There are many reasons why people choose vegetarian diets. Some people adopt vegetarianism for ethical reasons, believing that killing animals for food is wrong. Others may choose a vegetarian diet for health reasons, considering it is better for their bodies.
A growing number of people choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet because they believe it is better for the environment.
Different types of vegetarian diets
There are many types of vegetarian diets, but most can be classified into one of the following categories:
A lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, or a lactarian diet, is a type of vegetarian diet that entails consuming plant foods plus dairy and eggs. Lacto comes from the Latin word for milk; ovo means egg in Latin.
Lacto-vegetarians consume plant foods plus dairy products, but they don’t eat eggs.
Pescatarians are vegetarians who consume plant foods and eat fish and seafood. Seafood includes shellfish and crustaceans. In addition, although they’re technically vegetarian, pescatarians may sometimes eat poultry and land animals, depending on their culture and what’s available to them.
Vegan diets entail following a plant-based diet, avoiding all animal products, including dairy foods, eggs, and honey, for ethical reasons; many vegans also avoid wearing clothing made of animal skin or using animals for entertainment or sport.
Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets
There are many health benefits associated with vegetarian diets. For example, vegetarians tend to have lower heart disease, cancer, and diabetes rates than meat-eaters. They also tend to weigh less and have a lower risk of obesity.
Vegetarians typically have a lower blood pressure than nonvegetarians and may have a reduced risk of hypertension. Vegetarian diets tend to be rich in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, and phytochemicals; they are typically low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
How to Get the Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
If you choose to follow a healthy vegetarian diet for its benefits to your body or because you believe that it’s better for the environment, you can still get all of the nutrients that your body needs. Eggs and dairy products like milk and cheese contain large amounts of protein.
Soybeans (including tofu) and quinoa (a grain-like seed) also provide high protein levels and help your body absorb iron. Iron is found in beans, lentils, soybeans, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables. Zinc is found in beans, nuts, and seeds. Calcium is found in dairy products and fortified foods like orange juice and soy milk.
Many foods are now fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, essential for good health. Fortified foods include eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, bread, cereals, and juices. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids help protect against heart disease and stroke.
They may also reduce the risk of arthritis and improve brain function. If you don’t eat meat or fish, look for foods fortified with omega-3 fatty acids to ensure that you’re getting these crucial nutrients.
When it comes to making healthy choices for your body, a vegetarian diet is a good option. There are many health benefits associated with vegetarian diets, and there are plenty of foods available that will provide you with all the nutrients your body needs.
Fortified foods are also a great way to get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about creating a vegetarian meal plan that is right for you.
The Costs of a Vegetarian Diet
The idea of living a vegetarian lifestyle can be very appealing to many people. This way of eating seems to have the potential to be healthier and more sustainable than an omnivorous diet.
However, some believe it may also be more expensive than meat because plant-based foods are typically more expensive than animal products. So, how expensive is it to eat a vegetarian diet daily?
Common meat-free diet foods
The following foods are staples of many, if not most, meat-free diets. These include:
- Dried beans and peas
- Dark green vegetables (like spinach)
- Orange vegetables (like carrots)
- Other types of vegetables like potatoes, bell peppers, etc.
- Foods like dairy items (soy milk), whole grains (oats), nuts, seeds, nut butter, and tofu are also frequently consumed during these diets.
However, as you may have noticed, these items tend to be significantly cheaper than beef or poultry. In addition, some other things vegetarians typically eat are more expensive than meat, but not by much. So overall, depending on where you live and how your shopping habits are, it’s likely that the average vegetarian diet could be cheaper or just as expensive as an omnivorous one.
A recent study found that participants assigned to follow a vegetarian diet for approximately 18 weeks saw their weekly grocery bills drop by about $20-$30. This is around 35% less than what the average American spends on groceries each week (in 2014), $134.16 per person.
Keep in mind that this data only applies to the people in the study; it may not represent everyone’s situation when they start eating vegetarian-style.
Another study that looked at vegetarian and meat-eating families in the U.K. found that, on average, a vegetarian family spent £24 less per week on groceries than a meat-eating one. This is about $32 in U.S. currency. The researchers hypothesized that vegetarian families were more likely to buy in-season produce and bulk items like grains and beans.
The Costs of an Omnivorous Diet
As we mentioned earlier, meat is generally more expensive than plant-based foods. For example, according to the USDA, the average price of beef per pound is $5.28, while the average price for dry beans is only $0.72 per pound. That’s a significant difference!
So, an omnivorous diet will be more expensive than a vegetarian one. Not necessarily. There are many ways to keep the costs of a meat-based diet down. For example:
- Buying in bulk
- Buying discounted meats at the grocery store or from a butcher
- Taking advantage of sales and/or coupons
- Cooking at home instead of eating out
All of these tips can help you save money on groceries, whether you’re eating meat or not.
In the end, it’s difficult to say definitively which type of diet is more expensive. It depends on what foods you eat and how you shop for them. However, we can say with certainty that it is possible to eat a meat-free diet while remaining on a reasonable budget.
Vegetarian vs. Omnivorous Diet: A Quick Comparison
Below is a simple chart that lays out the critical differences between an omnivorous and vegetarian diet.
- usually less expensive than an omnivorous diet
- may have health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- can be sustainable if planned correctly
- more expensive than a vegetarian diet
- may have health benefits, such as higher intake of protein and vitamin B12
- not always sustainable due to meat’s sizeable environmental impact.
- generally not as healthy unless great care is taken to eat only moderate portions and lean meats. Requires far more discipline than other diets.
It depends on what foods you eat and how you shop for them. Generally speaking, though, meat is more expensive than plant-based foods.
Affordable vegetarian meals include black bean tacos, lentil soup, vegetable stir-fry, and quinoa salad. These meals can be made with inexpensive ingredients like beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits.
There are many benefits to eating a vegetarian diet, including reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Vegetarians also tend to be thinner and have lower cholesterol levels than meat-eaters. Additionally, vegetarian diets are more environmentally friendly than meat-based diets.
Vegans do not eat any animal products, including dairy. However, vegetarians usually have no problem eating eggs and/or dairy to supplement their diets.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both vegetarian and omnivorous diets. However, no matter which route you decide to go, it’s important to remember that the most important thing is following a healthy eating lifestyle and consuming sustainable foods. Vegetarianism and omnivorism are just two possible ways of doing that.
Whatever diet you choose, make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins. These foods will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, whether you’re a meat-eater or not. Thanks for reading