It’s a common misconception that being vegan is expensive and something that only fortunate and privileged people are able to do. It’s funny because aside from the popular vegans who have a lot of money from being popular and famous, most vegans I know are students like me, and don’t have a lot of spare cash floating around. So, the question I’ll be addressing today is “Can I be Vegan on a Budget?” – the short answer is Yes. The long answer is yes, let me prove this to you.
Before I start going on about the kinds of foods a vegan on a budget can afford, I want to remind you that veganism is not a diet, it is an animal right’s movement, and a political, moral belief. With that in mind, doesn’t it seem absurd to claim that poor people can’t be vegan? If we see animals they way they should be seen, as sentient beings with a purpose beyond that of being someone’s meal or entertainment, then it’s rather classist of one to make these claims against ‘poor people’.
Take this simple, hypothetical statement: “I have to eat meat, not everyone is rich and can afford to go vegan.” Replace it with “I have to be abusive, not everyone is rich and can afford to not hurt other people” … doesn’t that sound absurd? It doesn’t make any sense. So why would being poor prevent you from believing that animals are sentient beings who deserve a free life?
Anyway, this post is not intended to point blame or accuse people, as I understand that veganism is a minority group, and people who believe you have to be wealthy to be vegan are just uninformed of the facts. What better way to set the facts straight than to use myself as a personal example?
I have kept all of my food shop receipts from this past week for the purpose of compiling it into a post to show you how much money I spend per week on food. Whilst I’m not going to be discussing calories or nutrition, I just want to add that I have no deficiencies, no health problems, and I have enough to eat every day from the food that I eat.
All of my breakfasts and lunches are usually a combination of fruit, bread and cereal. I usually eat quite plainly during the day, with my dinner being the meal I put the most effort/variety into. For that reason, the only meals that I will describe will be my dinners.
Side note: I live with my boyfriend and we split the costs equally. What I’m adding up is what we spend per week between us.
Today, I spent €9.90 on food. €3.50 of this was on a pizza base mix. Normally I would make a pizza base from scratch using flour, yeast, water, oil and salt, (which would probably work out cheaper) but I’m still not familiar with the Spanish supermarkets and wherever I looked I couldn’t find yeast, so I had to get a pre-packaged mix. The remaining €6.40 was spent on 2 watermelons (one for dinner, one for Tuesday’s breakfast), a head of lettuce, two big bags of crisps/chips, a baguette, and a jar of peppers.
The weather was so hot that all we wanted for dinner was fruit, lettuce and bread. The crisps were a guilty pleasure, not that there’s anything wrong with eating junk food (after all, it is just potato!), and if we hadn’t bought the pizza base mix that would have kept our costs down.
It was a bit cooler today so it was easier to buy more things. Although we end up buying some sort of food every day of the week, we do try to avoid this by doing a relatively “big shop”. Today, the grocery shop came to €13.10. For less than €15, we bought a variety of vegetables: onions, two packets of mushrooms, a bag of peppers, two eggplants, three zucchinis, and six big tomatoes. We also bought half a watermelon, a jar of chickpeas, two baguette loaves, a litre of coconut milk, a packet of tortilla wraps, and a bar of dark chocolate.
For dinner we had chili with tortilla wraps and rice. The chili was made up of the veg that we’d bought from the shop, the chickpeas, and spices. It’s one of my favourite meals as it’s so easy to make, and if you do it from scratch then it’s really healthy.
The only thing we had to buy from the shop today were a couple of bottles of water (5 litres each), and some more tortilla wraps. Bottled water is so cheap in Spain because the tap water doesn’t taste very nice. This came to €2.70.
Dinner was leftover chili, since we always make too much. When on a budget, bulk buying and bulk cooking is really useful if you have enough space to store it!
We’re actually doing quite well this week with limiting our spending in grocery shops … today all we bought were two baguette loaves. They are €0.39 each so €0.78 altogether.
Tonight was pizza night! And it was fantastic. Pizza used to be my favourite food before going vegan, nowadays I don’t get a chance to eat it often, and homemade pizza has the potential to go horribly wrong. However, ours was a success (perhaps because the base was already premixed and didn’t need to be kneaded or left to rise!). We had previously bought some Violife pizza cheese, which I definitely recommend to any vegan. It melts really nicely. We made a herby tomato base and topped it with mushrooms and peppers.
Today’s grand total on food was €0.32. I sent my boyfriend to the shop to get two tomatoes. As we were protesting the treatment of horses for entertainment in the evening, (read about that here) our lunch was the biggest meal of the day.
We had grilled eggplant with onions and homemade tomato pasta sauce (hence the two tomatoes). I’m not a big fan of eggplant on its own, I will only eat it if it’s mixed in with tomatoes. My boyfriend is the opposite – he’ll only eat tomatoes if they’re mixed in with eggplant! We didn’t get to eat dinner until 10pm, so it was just a thrown together mix of rice, leftover chickpeas and zucchini.
Never go shopping on an empty stomach with alcohol in it! We bought crisps again – a bag each. When we first arrived in Spain we had almost zero temptation for junk food because of the availability of fruit! Oh well, it’s okay once in a while. We spent €12.84 on food today. Shops are shut on Sunday so we had to make sure we had enough to last us two days, since we’d completely finished all of the veg we bought on Tuesday. We bought two bags of pasta, a bag of rice, a box of cereal and two baguette loaves as our staples. For fruit and veg, we bought: watermelon, four onions, mushrooms, a bag of spinach, a packet of mini peppers, and two zucchinis.
Dinner was quite simple, pasta with fried onion, garlic, peppers and zucchini. A common trend with our meals are often a carbohydrate (pasta or rice, usually), with a selection of vegetables. That’s our go-to standard sort of meal.
As I already mentioned, shops are shut today. For dinner we made a big curry to last us through to Monday night, too. It was mushroom, spinach, onion, sweetcorn, and zucchini, with rice and pasta (weird combination, don’t ask!)
So, I have totaled up our weeks purchases on groceries to be: €39.64. I don’t normally track how much we spend on food, but I’m pretty sure this has been quite an average week. So if we round that up to €40, and then divide that by two, as a vegan living in Spain I can say that I spend on average €20 on groceries as a vegan per week. I eat a balanced diet of predominately fruit, veg and carbohydrates, and I thoroughly enjoy every meal that I eat. I feel as though I get enough variety, and my health, energy and blood test results reinforce this (I’m not deficient in anything).
So to not mislead anyone, I strongly recommend every vegan and non vegan to take a vitamin b12 supplement. I take a tablet a few times a week when I remember. b12 is something that many people are deficient in whether they eat meat or not as it originates from the soil. The animals that meat-eaters eat are actually injected with b12, so the most natural way to recieve this vitamin is through supplementation. You can take a tablet like me, or have a shot or spray. This is the only vitamin I supplement.
Side note #2: I would like to mention (in case people get the wrong assumption!) that the photos I have shown on this blog post are not all I eat. I eat more food in a meal off camera, so please don’t assume that everything I’m sharing here is my exact intake.
The best tips I have for eating healthily as a vegan on a budget, is buy your veg seasonally, buy your pasta and rice in bulk, and eat simply. You don’t need to follow fancy recipes like so many recipes seem to suggest! Being a vegan and eating mostly whole foods anyway will save you so much money. I am proof!
Has anyone got any tips for eating vegan on a budget? Did you find your grocery bills decreased after you went vegan? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to share this page and subscribe to the website for new content. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Tumblr for even more!