Are you considering making the switch to veganism? With society’s increasing environmental awareness and growing trends such as Veganuary, more and more of us are cutting animal products from our diets. Over 500,000 people tried a vegan diet in January 2021 alone – but many find veganism to be surprisingly expensive.
From alternative milks to vegan cheese and burgers, supermarkets are filling their aisles with an increasing number of vegan options. Yet research from Smart-Pig, an online company offering small short-term loans for students, found that vegan food typically costs 31% more in leading stores. Popular vegan fast food and takeaway options meanwhile cost roughly 5% more than meat or vegetarian alternatives.
That could add up to a significant overspend when factoring in weekly food shops, regular meals out and takeaways. 22-year old Charlotte, for example, says she spends £40 more per week since embracing a vegan diet. Check out her typical shopping list below.
So what factors make vegan food so pricey – and can shoppers expect this to level out in the future?
Key reasons why vegan food can be expensive
While veganism has undoubtedly hit the mainstream in recent years, it remains a more niche market than traditional meat and dairy products. Most vegan meat products aren’t mass produced, making the cost of production and therefore the end-user price higher.
Production processes for products such as vegan milks are also more complex, raising the price further, while plant-based products require greater marketing investment to get them off the ground.
Many new vegan products also cost more due to the extra research that goes into their development. Testing the consistency of vegan burger patties for example cannot be done on the cheap.
Other factors include whether or not you decide to go organic. Organic fruit and vegetables come with a higher risk of spoiling, and it’s a risk which farmers reflect in their pricing.
Could vegan food get cheaper?
Vegan food undoubtably cost more than meat or dairy equivalents back when it was only available in specialist stores and health shops. Yet as the market continues to grow, more companies force their way in and production processes evolve, it’s logical that prices will drop in supermarkets.
Many high-profile fast food chains have got in on the action in recent years too, leading industry experts to believe that a tipping point may arrive very soon. In fact, people are now comparing vegan food companies to tech firms due to their rapid rate of innovation.
In the meantime, there are lots of ways to keep food costs down as a vegan. Most vegetables, beans, pulses and other vegan staples are far less expensive than meat, fish and cheese items. Other money-saving tips include buying in bulk, finding recipe replacements and trying frozen fruit and vegetables.