Embracing Veganuary: Does it Save You Money?

In this article, we analyse if switching to veganism for January saves money and how else it benefits you.

a split view of two kitchens, one with vegan dishes and the other with meat-based meals, highlighting the diversity of food choices and potential savings of a vegan diet
(Image credit: Future)

Veganuary is a campaign that inspires and supports people to try the vegan diet for January and possibly beyond. Millions of people have already taken part in this challenge, which has many benefits for animals, the planet and your health. But what about your wallet? Is going vegan more expensive than eating meat and dairy products? In this article, we analyse if switching to veganism for January saves money and how else it benefits you.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is a global movement that promotes a vegan lifestyle for January. It’s not just about diet change. It's about exploring new foods, understanding environmental issues and often saving money. 

The Cost-Effectiveness of Plant-Based Diets

Contrary to popular belief, a plant-based diet can be lighter on the wallet. Staples like beans, lentils, rice and seasonal vegetables are often far cheaper than meat and dairy products. You can significantly reduce your weekly grocery bill by focusing on these basics instead of fancy vegan dishes.

However, focus on branded processed meat alternatives such as Birdseye Green Cuisine, Beyond Meat, Linda McCartney and Quorn. In that case, you’ll likely run up an equal or more significant food bill than your everyday non-vegan diet. However, these products are generally healthier than their cheap processed food alternatives, so they are great options if you’re trying Veganuary for a diet or the health benefits.

Below is a small table from our article comparing vegan alternatives, showing the approximate price differences in Tesco for popular meat products and their counterparts. It's a mixture of branded and store-brand items based on my vegan shopping habits, so I’ve picked vegan foods that taste good, in my opinion, instead of just the cheapest option.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryMeat OptionVegan Option
BurgersTesco 8 Beef Burgers £3.60Tesco Plant Chef 8 Meat Free Burgers £2.25
SausagesRichmond 8 Thick Pork Sausages £2.50Richmond 8 Meat Free Vegan Sausages £2.15
Fish FingersBirds Eye 10 Fish Fingers £3.29Birds Eye Green Cuisine Fishless Fingers 12 Pack £3.00
HamTesco British Pork Cooked Ham £2.15Squeaky Bean Applewood Smoked Ham Style Slices £2.50
ChickenEastman's Sliced Cooked Chicken £1.95Tesco Plant Chef Meat Free Chicken £1.85
MilkTesco Semi Skimmed Milk 1.13L/2 Pints £1.20Tesco Oat Drink 1 Litre £1.40
CheeseCreamfields Mature White Cheddar 400G £2.55Violife Plant Based Cheddarton 200G £2.75
ButterAnchor Spreadable Blend of Butter and Rapeseed Oil 400g £3.35I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Original Spread 450G £1.50
Overall Cost£20.59£17.40

As you can see, when buying only pre-packaged and frozen foods, the prices are similar, and the only noteworthy savings are on butter, burgers and sausages.

The mistake people make when going vegan is solely buying items that imitate meat. Doing so probably won’t save you any money. Instead, you can make many tasty recipes from vegan and vegetarian staples such as oats, rice, pasta and lentils. For example, a kilogram of red lentils from Tesco costs just £2.50 and doubles in weight when cooked, so they are very filling, and there are loads of cheap and tasty recipes to use lentils in. There are also plenty of cheap and easy meals to make with pantry foods such as rice, pasta, noodles and oats. 

Shopping Smart

Buy in bulk - Items like oats, rice, pasta and lentils are much cheaper when bought in larger quantities.

Use food in your pantry - There is a strong chance you already have rice, pasta, or noodles in your pantry, which are staples in vegan diets and super versatile, and don’t forget the simple things like a nice piece of toast in the morning or a jacket potato and baked beans it’s easy to become too focused on the meat alternatives and forget most people eat vegan and veggie meals as part of their regular diet.

Opt for store brand - Store brand options such as Tesco Wicked Kitchen, M&S Plant Kitchen, Sainsbury Plant Pioneers, ALDI’s Plant Menu and Morrisons V-Taste are all great options that have a similar quality to known brands at a lower price.

Look for deals and discounts - Many supermarkets offer sales and specials on plant-based products during Veganuary to capitalise on the event.

Cooking at Home

Eating out is expensive, regardless of diet. One of the easiest ways to save money on vegan food is to cook your meals from scratch, using whole foods and base ingredients. This way, you can only pay what is necessary for processed and packaged vegan products such as ready meals and snacks, which are often more expensive and less healthy than homemade versions. You can find plenty of easy and delicious vegan recipes online on sites such as the Veganuary official site, BBC Good Food and one of my favourites, The Stingy Vegan

Growing Your Own

Although Veganuary is in Winter, when spring comes, if you have a garden, a balcony or a windowsill, you can grow your herbs, vegetables and even fruits, providing fresh, organic produce for your dishes, vegan or otherwise. This can be a fun activity for yourself or your children, help save a little bit of money year-long, help reduce your environmental impact, and give you a sense of satisfaction because when you grow it yourself, it tastes better. If you like the sound of growing plants yourself, check out our article on saving money by growing your herbs. 

The Benefits Beyond January

Going vegan for Veganuary can be a rewarding experience for the animals, the planet, and your health and well-being. However, it can also be a challenge, especially regarding your budget. Vegan alternatives to meat and dairy products are often equal in price or more expensive than their animal-based counterparts, which can make vegan shopping costly. However, there are ways to reduce the expense of eating plant-based, such as buying in bulk, shopping around, cooking from scratch and growing your food. By following the above tips, hopefully, you can enjoy a vegan lifestyle without breaking the bank or maybe “meat” us in the middle and go vegetarian or flexitarian in the long term. So why not try it and join the plant-based revolution? Who knows, you may love it.

If you are considering a more long-term change to veganism or vegetarianism, why not check out our guide to which supermarket has the cheapest weekly vegan shop

Nathan Walters

I joined MyVoucherCodes as a Deal Expert, searching the web and sourcing the best deals, discount codes and sales to benefit our readers. I decided to combine these money-saving skills with my love of writing and become an Editor, sharing what I have learned to help you get the most out of your money. As a student for four years, I understand the need to budget and get more for less.  As well as providing budget-friendly advice here at MVC, I have written money-saving works for well-known publications such as The Sun and Pick Me Up!

I love playing video games and later writing reviews at GameReport in my spare time. I also enjoy anything to do with technology and cool gadgets, and I'm constantly adding extras and components to my home gaming computer. Additionally, I love DIY. Having worked in a tool store as a student, I enjoy fixing things, whether my car or home.