Author: Sarah Frazer
People often say that going vegan is expensive and if all you’re buying is gourmet vegan cheese and mock meats, then yes, it certainly can be. However, what is less discussed is all the ways that going vegan can save money. So, without further ado, here are 6 ways that being vegan saves me money.
1) I have only a few options at restaurants and that’s more than okay.
When I first went vegan six or so years ago, there were not many vegan options at any of the restaurants I frequented. Indeed, I often found myself choosing between french fries or a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Yum. While I prefer the greater variety of veg options offered these days, there was something to be said for the simple, limited options I had back then. I never spent a lot on some fancy entree because I didn’t want any non-vegan one, and a pricey vegan option did not exist.
2) Most checkout-line items and microwave-meals aren’t vegan.
I am much less tempted to buy a candy bar or bag of chips in line at a grocery store because very few of the available items are vegan. I’ll never impulsively buy a Hershey’s bar or Reese’s cup because they aren’t vegan, and after being vegan for a while, I stopped wanting to buy items with animal products (though I admit, I still crave candy corn sometimes). As with the example above, having fewer options can often be better for your wallet.
3) I make the most of my spice cabinet.
For most of us, going vegan is a big change, one which requires unlearning how we used to cook and learning new ways to keep food interesting. As delicious as veggies are, they often need a little extra something to make me really want to eat them. So with everything I make, my focus is on what spices and flavors I can add to the base of vegetables or tofu, which otherwise has no flavor. Spices and acids (like citrus juice or vinegar) are essential in practically all of my cooking. By making the most of all the spices and sauces I already have, I don’t waste any of them and because I usually have those flavorings, the food tastes better for free.
4) I never buy leather (unless it’s second hand).
This one goes without saying: leather is expensive. Sure, it can last a long time, but when you do buy leather or suede or silk items, they can cost a small fortune. To avoid this extra expense, I simply forgo it altogether. I don’t buy clothes or shoes often, so this is not a case of fast-fashion replacing leather goods. Instead, I just buy durable, more economical non-animal products. Since I’m vegan, it’s not a difficult decision to make to not spend the extra money either. I still have leather boots from before I went vegan and if I was to see something leather at a thrift store or yard sale, I may buy it. But I’m never going to buy real leather again, and that’s good both for the animals and my checking account!
5) When in doubt, I don’t buy.
A lot of items in the world are not vegan, and sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a product you want to buy is in fact vegan-friendly. In these instances, I simply do not make the purchase. I cannot count the number of times I was going to buy something but then didn’t because it either wasn’t vegan or because it was unclear whether it was. Similarly, if I really want something but am not sure if it’s vegan, I make a mental or physical note of it, so that I can buy it once I have figured it out. This habit makes my shopping less impulsive and more intentional.
6) I have an excuse not to spend money socially
Being vegan can definitely be a great excuse to not spend (as much)money socially, which has definitely come in handy for me. If I don’t want to spend money at a non-vegan-friendly restaurant or split mozzarella sticks or some other non-vegan food, then I’m not expected to because my friends or loved ones know I’m vegan. Rather than explaining that I perhaps just want to save money, I can simply say that I’m vegan, so I’ll pass on whatever costly activity or item my friends want to buy.
I went vegan for environmental and ethical reasons, not to save money, and in all honesty, a lot of the vegan-specialty foods I have bought over the years have cost more than the non-vegan versions. But regardless of how much money I spend on these items, being vegan has saved me money in other key ways, which I think offset the costs of more pricey vegan products.
Because I’m vegan, I don’t have to waste energy trying to decide if I’m going to buy anything that isn’t. As long as I just stick to my original commitment to the vegan lifestyle, then other decisions I may have to make are much easier. These are 6 ways that being vegan saves me money, but there are probably several more.