One of the major barriers preventing people from going vegan is that it’s seen as an expensive lifestyle, and it certainly doesn’t help that most fast-food chains and beauty retailers don’t always have a vegan alternative. But is following a vegan lifestyle really more expensive? I went vegan for six months and here’s everything I learned about the real cost of veganism.
Note: I live in Singapore, and prices are listed in Singapore dollars. The conversion rate is $0.75 US to one Singapore dollar (S$1).
Skeptic turned vegan
I was one of those people who swore that medium-rare steak was my lifeblood and assumed I would die without adding milk to my morning caffeine hit. One day, something snapped in me. I could no longer ignore the compelling environmental and ethical case for a lifestyle free of animal exploitation and cruelty. I’ll admit, though, I was afraid of how this switch might impact my finances. For reference: a single package of Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger Patties would set me back by S$13.20—more than four times the cost of frozen beef patties. Regardless, I was determined not to let my finances deter me from reducing my impact on the planet. I decided to go vegan for six months. By the end of my six-month trial, I was shocked. I ended up saving S$793.44!
Avoiding processed foods saved S$229.44 ($170.84)
Something I quickly realized during my experiment was that veganism, in principle, should be cheap. The primary contributing factor to the misconception that a vegan diet is costly is all the highly processed foods available (e.g. convenience and pre-packaged products). In truth, all someone needs for a vegan diet is produce, soy products or beans, grains, and lentils of various kinds. By simply replacing my usual portions of meat with these plant-based proteins, I saved S$229.44 on my grocery bills over six months.
To address the inevitable vegan protein question: there is no need to worry about getting complete proteins in a vegan diet as you eat a variety of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Just like any other diet, veganism is all about balance.
A vegan capsule wardrobe saved me S$354 ($263.58)
Vegans know the lifestyle is not just about food—clothing is a huge part of it. For these six months, I ditched garments made with animal products and favoured vegan clothing instead. Making this switch made me aware of the environmental impact of my past preference for fast fashion and fashion subscription boxes. Further, becoming more selective about the vegan pieces I did buy ensured that I will wear them for a long time. I essentially built a capsule wardrobe and reduced my carbon footprint on the planet, which also helped me save S$59 monthly (S$354 over six months) on my fashion box subscription. Turns out vegan fashion can be a win for the planet and your wallet!
Vegan beauty products saved me S$210 ($156.36)
Not all vegan products are more expensive than their counterparts, and this applies to beauty. Many beauty brands have nailed the perfect balance between animal-free formulas and affordability. In fact, through my search for suitable skincare products, I found many homegrown Singaporean brands that advocate for clean, vegan formulas with super affordable price tags! After taking into account that I ran out of products every two months, I found that I’d saved S$210 simply by making the switch to cruelty-free vegan beauty products. Bonus: my skin was glowing by the end.
A vegan lifestyle doesn’t break the bank
Based on product ads alone, veganism can seem expensive. I’m happy to prove that misconception untrue. Making small lifestyle changes in terms of food, clothing, and beauty products can actually save you more money in the long run! Of course, you don’t have to go in with an all-or-nothing mentality. You can choose to incorporate certain aspects or elements into your lifestyle. The more you reduce your reliance on animal-based products, the more you’ll lessen your impact on the planet without breaking the bank.
Ann is an employee at ValueChampion Singapore, a consumer research and personal finance comparison firm that prides itself in distilling data into actionable, unbiased insights.