Veganism is on the rise – that much is undeniable. Insert stat here. However, this animal-loving lifestyle comes at a price, and often a very literal one – veganism is usually seen as one of the most expensive diets to have, usually due to the higher price of dairy or egg-free products compared to their animal product-using alternatives. But, while some parts of veganism can be expensive, there are planty (forgive the pun) of ways to save money and be vegan on a student budget.
Buy from a Greengrocers or Market:
If you live near to a weekly market (like Beeston or the City Centre), these are normally a great way to get fresh produce at a discounted rate. The market in Beeston sells large bags of clementines or apples (usually around 10 fruits) for £1 a bag, compared to £1.69 at the local supermarket (where you only get half a dozen).
Buying from local growers and business is normally cheaper because of the reduced airmiles the food has used to get there; the produce is often British-grown, and fresher than the supermarket alternatives. So, by buying fresh from a local market, you’re not only saving money, but you’re helping the environment and supporting a local business – what’s not to like?
Discover the Value of Dried Legumes/Pulses:
Any vegan will tell you that they consume a lot of beans as part of their diet. Whether it’s baked beans (most brands are vegan!), or more exotic varieties like haricot beans, they can be used in almost anything, and make a great meat-substitute.
Tinned varieties are great, but the dried varieties are often cheaper, and go a lot further – all you have to do is soak them overnight before using them. Sure, this requires a little more forward-thinking, but the price difference makes it worth it! Lentils are a similar story – tins or pouches of cooked lentils can be pretty pricey, but if you buy bags of them dried it works out a lot cheaper, and don’t require much more work.
Grains Are Your New Best Friend:
We’ve all heard of (but perhaps are still unsure of how exactly to pronounce) quinoa, but did you know that there are hundreds of other grains out there to be used as a rice, pasta, or couscous alternative? Bulgur wheat, giant couscous, millet, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, wild rice, and many more! These grains tend to come in big packs, so ask around to see if anyone has some they wouldn’t mind you borrowing to try out.
These grains are incredibly versatile, and can be used in almost everything. Some are great sources of protein as well – quinoa is one of the few vegan foods with a complete amino acid profile (that means it is a ‘complete’ protein). While they don’t seem as cheap as more basic grains like rice, if you’re willing to hunt around a bit you can find some great deals, and a little goes a long way with these grains – most of them swell when cooked to even double or triple their original size, so a bag can last a long time.
Try Making Your Own:
If you’re a vegan yourself you’ll know that vegan ready-meals or frozen foods are a) hard to come by, and b) expensive – who’s got enough spare change to spend £5 on two burgers?! A simple remedy is to simply make them yourself!
Make batches of simple things like pasta sauce or chilli, or even have a go at making your own vegan burgers; it’s not that hard, and there are thousands of recipes out there waiting for you to try them. Don’t expect them to taste like meat, but expect to be surprised! Making your own vegan burgers, shepherd’s pie or soup can be cheap as well as rewarding – you can make batches of a dozen burgers for under £2 with ease!
Check the Labels!:
When I first started out on this diet, I made the mistake of assuming that things contained dairy or eggs, only to find out months later that I could eat them without a problem (oh chocolate bourbons, I missed you!) If you check the packaging of foods you normally eat (aside from those that obviously have dairy/egg in, like meringues or milk chocolate), you might be surprised to find that a lot of them are vegan-friendly, and you don’t have to lose out. Cheaper supermarkets like LIDL and ALDI have plenty of ‘accidentally vegan’ products, and are a great place to start your search!
Get Creative with Breakfast:
Breakfast is probably one of the most difficult meals for vegans, especially if you’re like me and just can’t get around the odd taste of animal-friendly milk on cereal! Having toast or a cereal bar every morning can get expensive, so consider doing something a little easier, like overnight oats (recipe below). If you can find a breakfast that works for you and is a little healthier than toast or snack bars, then you’ve cracked it!
Veganism doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, it can be pretty cheap! I spend less than £10 a week on my food shopping, and get everything I need for the week. A little patience and trial-and- error is all you need to adjust your vegan diet to your student budget, and before you know it you’ll be away!
NB: The SU shop in Portland has some pretty nice vegan wraps/sandwiches, if you’re ever on Uni Park without a lunch plan! I recommend the Teriyaki Tofu wrap….
For example, I love this Overnight Oats recipe:
– A jar/tupperware
– Half a cup of rolled oats
– Approx half a cup of water/dairy-free milk
– Toppings of choice (I tend to go for blueberries or banana, with some (vegan) chocolate
– Just combine all the items well together in the jar, then leave in the fridge overnight!
– Warm through before eating, or just eat it cold out of the fridge! If the consistency isn’t to
your taste, just adjust the amount of liquid you put it – less if you like it thicker, or more if
you want a sloppier consistency!
– NB: Some toppings will affect the consistency of your porridge. If you put frozen berries in,
then they will defrost and add more water to the mix, but if you put seeds in, it will firm up a
Featured image taken by Manuel. License here.