A study published by the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition concluded that a vegetarian diet is cheaper than the meat-inclusive “MyPlate” diet currently being promoted in federal guidelines by the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Okay,” I thought as I scratched my head — and read and re-read the stufy to make sure I hadn’t misread or misunderstood it in some way. Indeed, I clearly understood it. A major study was conducted on that very question and concluded that a vegetarian diet is cheaper than a diet that includes meat.
Then all I could think was, “This is news, how?”
What are they going to study next, whether Argentina is south of Mexico, or ice tends to melt when you throw it in boiling water? How about grizzly bears moving at 30 miles per hour will catch and maim, and possibly kill, a human moving at 10 miles per hour. Wow. The possibilities are endless. Where’s my grant money?
However, after a little research, I found that there happen to be a few misconceptions among many people that makes them think that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet is more expensive than one that includes meat. Apparently, there are actually people who want to become vegetarians, but don’t because they think it is too expensive.
There are lots of reasons for this misconception as cited in various articles, but three tend to recur most:
FAKE MEATS ARE EXPENSIVE
Some people think that vegetarians have to eat those expensive “mock meats” like soyrizo, fake chicken, veggie burgers, and so on. Of course, this isn’t true. Sure, you can eat them and be a good vegetarian, but you aren’t going to be a vegetarian that saves money over a meat-inclusive diet. For your protein, stick with basic foods like rice and beens, lentils, and other foods.
VEGETARIAN FAST FOOD IS MORE EXPENSIVE
Vegetarian fast food tends to be more expensive than a chicken sandwich, burger, and other meat options at a fast food outlet. For persons that don’t actively pursue a vegetarian diet, and only happen to see the prices when they go to McDonald’s, this could make vegetarianism seem more expensive than their present diet.
THE ORGANIC PRODUCE CONUNDRUM
Many non-vegetarians think you must buy all organic produce to be a vegetarian. Of course, this is far from the truth. Conventionally grown produce will work just as well in a vegetarian diet.
VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN PRE-PACKAGED FOODS AND TREATS ARE HIGHWAY ROBBERY
I’ll just recount some of the list on billfold that the author, a vegan, admits to buying:
$8.99, $8.69, $9.59: Three frozen vegan cheese pizzas. I have yet to cook any of these, so I will have to get back to you on whether or not it was worth spending $10 on a frozen pizza.
$2.99: Vegan half-moon cookie. Before I was vegan, I used to buy half-moon cookies for a dollar. Prior to that, they were available for free in my college’s dining hall. I mean, free to the extent that a meal plan was a part of the cost of going to college, which I am still paying for every month.
$4.89: Vegan cheddar-flavored kettle chips. Considering that this is a 5 oz. bag that will probably take me three minutes to eat, five dollars seems…excessive.
Really, you don’t need vegan pizza or cookies or kettle chips. The prices are outrageous unless you are Mr. or Ms. Posh Moneybaggins. It all comes back to basic ingredients and taking the time to prepare food yourself rather than buying it ready-made. It’s the processing that gets expensive. Ergo, if you want to save money, cook it yourself.
If you shop smart in the produce section and a few other aisles, your wallet will feel much better.
As the takepart.com article concludes, the point of the JHEN study is “[to show] that the vegetarian diet’s financial barrier to entry is rather low.” That is true. I will not doubt that assertion for a millisecond. However, if you want to read the JHEN study, there is a rather sizable barrier. A pdf version is $48.
So if you know anyone who is hesitant to take the plunge into vegetarianism because it is too expensive, forego the study and just send them this article.