I tried becoming a vegetarian once when I was in high school. My best friend was vegetarian and I was curious. I only lasted four days. My downfall: a buffalo chicken sandwich. Since this unsuccessful attempt, I have never tried to reduce my meat consumption. It’s just too tasty.
But in 2022, a family member was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. In addition to taking new medications, he adopted a strict whole-food, plant-based diet in hopes of improving his health. If diet could potentially help with serious illness, I figured maybe it could help with my much less serious health issues. Why not try ?
And it worked.
In addition to feeling better, switching from a diet rich in meat (eating meat almost twice a day) to a diet rich in plants (eating meat one to three times a week) allowed me to save over $800 USD (approximately $1070 CAD) in just five months.
At first, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of eating salad instead of steak, but I loved how much money I saved. And it turns out that my case is not unique.
When you think about it, it makes sense: The average cost of a pound of ground beef was US$5.23 (C$6.99) in October 2023. If you replace that meat with chickpeas, you can expect to pay around $1 for a 16 oz can.
Toni Okamoto, founder of the blog Plant-Based on a Budget in Sacramento, California, says many of her clients spend US$40 to US$50 (C$53.50 to C$66.85) per week per person in groceries when they follow her plant-based meal plans.
Eating more plants has also been shown to improve long-term health. Reducing health risks could result in fewer doctor visits, prescriptions and other health care costs in the long term.
Katie Cummings, a certified vegan financial planner at Vision Capital Management in Portland, Oregon, notes that eating in a way that prevents illness can help reduce costs.
“One thing that really derails a financial plan is a long-term care episode,” says Cummings.
When I started eating more plants, I tried to focus on addition rather than subtraction. For me, that meant eating one new vegetable a week. That’s how I discovered that I liked romanesco and that I wasn’t a fan of kohlrabi.
If you want to eat more plants, there are many ways to go about it, but Okamoto suggests keeping it simple.
“Try not to get overwhelmed by the idea of completely changing your lifestyle, but just think about the things you eat and how you can replace them,” she says. For example, if you like pasta, you can always eat pasta with marinara sauce and a can of white bean cannellini with some frozen vegetables. Or if you like beef tacos, try using lentils instead. They are healthier for the heart and much less expensive. »
If you search for “make money fast” in a search engine, you’ll find plenty of suggestions, such as driving delivery vehicles or teaching online classes. But few of them can actually put money in your pocket today. If you’re looking to save money, cutting your grocery bill can help you save money instantly.
Cummings says people who want to adopt a vegan or plant-based diet can benefit from tracking their spending.
“Be very clear and honest with yourself when looking at your budget. Be kind to yourself when you start and set fairly high limits for your categories, says Cummings. Then you can gradually reduce them and change them, checking often. I always tell my clients to set aside 15 minutes a week if possible. »
If you save a lot of money, checking your budget can even become a hobby. If you cut your grocery bill by a third, you may suddenly have a little more money. You could thus add to your emergency fund, save for your retirement or treat yourself to a vacation. Whatever you use the money for, the savings and health benefits might just make you give up meat.