Our writer left no avocado unturned to find the least expensive —and healthy—diet.

The Cost Of Being An Omnivore, Vegetarian, Vegan: The Winner Is…

The Cost Of Being An Omnivore, Vegetarian, Vegan: The Winner Is…

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Students care about many important issues such as the environment and the treatment of animals. There are times that this leads them to vegetarianism or veganism. Help your students live the lifestyle that is important to them and learn to save money while doing it.

Abstaining from meat doesn't have to be expensive. One writer examines different cruelty-free diets and their costs to both your highschooler's wallet and body.When I was 11, I stopped eating meat. I was the lone vegetarian among my friends. I also avoid dairy because of an allergy, so I was misunderstood (“What do you eat?”) — but tolerated.

I have distinct memories of a high school friend who would always implore me to eat meat.

“I’ll give you $5 to eat this beef jerky,” he would say. “What about $100?” Each time, I adamantly refused.

At the time, I just thought he was being annoying. I happily took out my peanut butter sandwich and ate that instead.

Only a few years later, the alternative meat and organic industries exploded. When I could start buying soy slices to put in sandwich, I was ecstatic!

I ate a lot of mock chicken nuggets, hickory BBQ riblets, soy patties, and more. Little did I realize that my spending was increasing!

When I began to live on my own in graduate school, I wanted to cut down on my budget. The first thing I cut out was the soy products. How could I justify spending nearly $5 on a packet of fake buffalo wings?

Instead of soy protein crumbles ($3.49 per pack), I purchased black beans ($0.99 per can). Instead of fake deli meat ($3.50 per pack), I began making mock chicken salad from scratch with chickpeas ($0.99 per can plus mayonnaise and green bell pepper).

My spending began to fall, and I knew that those items would be designated only as special purchases in the future.

I know I’m in the minority as a vegetarian, but perhaps other people living on a budget don’t know that eating vegetarian can both be good on your wallet and your body.

There are a few different definitions for vegetarians, but we’ll work with this one: A vegetarian is someone who eats eggs, dairy, and fish, but not poultry or meat.

A vegan is someone who does not eat poultry, meat, fish, or any food that is produced by an animal, including dairy, eggs, and even honey.

With that in mind, I created a daily menu for an omnivore (meat eater), a vegetarian, and a vegan to see the cost difference.

That friend in high school was just being annoying, but what he didn’t know was that being a meat eater is more expensive. You can see that it is indeed cheaper to eat vegan.

These prices came from the Walmart near me. Of course, the cost will go up depending on whether or not you buy organic, and whether you are cooking for a family of four or a single person.


Breakfast – Egg, Sausage, and Cheese Breakfast Burrito = $5.49

Snack – Beef Jerky = $3.89

Lunch – Chicken Salad, 32 oz. = $9.94

Potato Chips, 13 oz. bag = $3.78

Dinner – Hamburger Helper Beef Pasta and Sauce Mix, 3 pack = $5.66


Breakfast – Cheese & Veggie Breakfast Burrito = $1.98

Snack – String Cheese, whole pack = $2.89

Fuji Apples, 3 lb. bag = $4.46

Lunch – Tuna Salad, 10 oz. pouch = $3.68

Potato Chips, 13 oz. bag = $3.78

Dinner – Vegetarian Vegetable Fried Rice, 22 oz. box = $7.49


Breakfast – Gf Vegan Classic Breakfast Burrito = $3.29

Snack – Fuji Apples, 3 lb. bag = $4.46

Peanut Butter, 16 oz. jar = $2.22

Lunch – Textured Vegetable Protein, 16 oz. bag = $17.49

Potato Chips, 13 oz. bag = $3.78

Dinner – Great Value Stir Fry Riced Cauliflower, 12 oz. = $2.97

Of course, you can be vegetarian or an omnivore and eat expensively or eat poorly. It’s about making good choices. Meal planning, buying in season, and buying in bulk can save a lot of money. Even so, your wallet (and your body) might thank you for going vegetarian one day a week.

Check List

  • Are you vegetarian or vegan or do you have food allergies?
  • How important is it to you to eat healthy?
  • Are you willing to spend more money on food to eat the things you want?
  • Do you have any other ideas on how you can save money on healthy food?