Does going vegan actually lower your grocery bill?

WASHINGTON — Plenty of meat eaters can’t imagine saying goodbye to their beloved burgers and steaks, but the price of groceries keeps going up. Could the allure of a lighter grocery bill be enough to entice even the most loyal carnivore to the green side? According to research from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, avoiding meat and dairy may help lower your grocery bill in a major way.

Scientists say adopting a diet that shuns all meat, dairy, and any other animal products can decrease food costs by 16 percent. On a yearly basis, study authors estimate a vegan approach to eating can save shoppers more than $500.

“We knew that a vegan diet significantly reduces your risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—and now we have proof that opting for beans instead of beef will also lead to significant savings on your grocery bill,” says study co-author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, in a media release.

These findings come from an analysis carried out during a Physicians Committee study. Participants were randomly assigned to either a control group or a vegan group. Those in the vegan cohort followed a low-fat vegan diet made up of grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Meanwhile, the control group could not make any changes to their usual diets. Researchers did not limit the calorie intake or food cost of either group.

To assess food costs, each person’s dietary records were linked up with food price data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan, 2021.

Older couple shopping for healthy food, fruits and vegetables

Among vegan eaters, overall food costs declined by 16 percent ($1.51 daily). The team did not see a significant change in the control group. So, where are vegans finding these savings? Researchers point to meat (-$1.77 per day) and dairy (-$0.74 per day). However, avoidance of foods like eggs and added fats also played a part in the reported savings.

While it’s true that vegans do spend more on vegetables (+$1.03 per day), fruits (+$0.40 per day), legumes (+$0.30 per day), whole grains (+$0.30 per day), and meat and dairy alternatives, the money they save by avoiding animal food products still results in higher savings.

All in all, the research team says this work supports previous research that found that a plant-based diet tends to provide more monetary savings than diets featuring animal food products. It’s also worth noting that researchers observed a low-fat vegan diet can promote weight loss as well as improved body composition and insulin sensitivity among overweight adults.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open.

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About the Author

John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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  1. I have been a vegan for over 30 years, I cook for myself, each meal cost me less than $1 Canadian, I kid you not. You just have to know where to shop, and buying bulk can save a ton of money too. For example, 20 pounds of potato cost $10 and it can last two months. Five pounds of carrot cost $2+ and it can also last two months.

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