Is It Really More Expensive to Live a Vegan Life
Some people think I’m rich. It’s kind of comical. But maybe I do several things that would have strangers believing I am.
Before we get into all of that, the short answer is: no, you don’t need to go in debt or be a millionaire to live a vegan life.
Before I went down this path, I thought it was too expensive to eat healthy. I figured vegans were either wealthy, or just eating boring salads all day, or they were wealthy people that ate super expensive boring salads. I’m so glad I dove head first into all of this and realized that’s not the case.
Show me the money!
So let’s dig into the reasons why some people might assume I’m rich:
- I’ve been working for myself for almost 7 years, and a lot of the time it looks like I’m not working.
- I travel a decent amount each year, and I keep increasing the frequency, the duration, and the distance.
- I have nice tech products.
- I have a financial advisor.
- I’ve been vegan every day for over 2 years, and I eat out often.
I realize some of these things make no sense as to why I’m listing them, but people bring them up often. And yes, because all of these things are true, some people think I sleep on mountains of cash every night. Very far from the truth. In fact, most people reading this are living a more luxurious life than I do.
For real. Once I’m deft-free (which should be this spring), I can seriously live the same life I’m living right now (and still travel just as much) for around $25k-$30k a year. Yes, for my math fans again, that’s like working 40 hours a week and making $12-$15 an hour. Or working for yourself and charging $100/hour and working 75 hours a week for 1 month and taking the next 11 months off. Haha
Easy for you to say…
If you are similar to me, and you… are debt-free, live a simple life, are 100% vegan, don’t have a lot of monthly expenses, are single with no kids, and travel a bit (I know there’s a lot of assumptions or stipulations there), I don’t see why you couldn’t make this work forever.
You’re already eating food every day anyways. It’s not like I told you to take up a hobby you’ve never done, doing something that you hate. You really don’t need to have a ton of money to live a plant-based life.
You can likely drive to your nearest grocery and get a cart-full of vegan items right now and spend the same amount of money (likely less) that non-vegans do.
Several of the staples in a vegan’s diet are super cheap things. Foods like rice, beans, potatoes, other veggies, fruit, pasta, etc. I eat all of these things often, and nothing listed will break the bank.
If you’re looking to spend more money though, it’s quite easy, it’s just not required.
There’s not enough hours in the day…
You also have to factor in the time it takes to prepare these inexpensive foods. If you are the type that complains that it takes too long to cook at home (I am this way every now and then), then you will likely spend a little more because you’ll opt for more processed stuff that’s quick and easy to make.
Everyone’s situation is different, so you just have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself (and if you have a significant other or a big family, factor them in too).
It’s really simple to walk out of Whole Foods with $100 or more missing from your wallet/bank account. In a conversation the other day about when I used to be a homeowner, I mentioned that I’d spend $100 every time I went to Lowe’s, even when I went there for something small. And now I spend that $100 at the grocery (mainly Whole Foods). Haha
What are your priorities?
Since I just mentioned that I used to own a house, I might as well explain some more details about how I live and why I don’t care to drop some cash at these fancy hipster food warehouses.
- I don’t own a house anymore, I sold it almost a year ago, after having it for over 8 years. I now rent space in my friends building, where I live and also keep all of my business stuff.
- I’ve had over 20 cars/trucks in the past 20 years, and I only own 2 right now, both of which cost me less than $3000 each, and are both full of rust. And I’ll likely sell one of them this year.
- I am super frugal when it comes to travel. I’ve probably slept in my vehicle (in a parking lot or rest area) more nights than you or I have stayed in hotels. I also stay in inexpensive Airbnbs and hostels.
- I am definitely a minimalist, and I’m always downsizing my possessions. I really don’t need much at all. Actually none of us do.
- I have a new iPhone (only because I lost my last one, that I had been using for over 3 years [fuck alcohol], and no it’s not the top model, it’s the 128GB XR), a new Dell XPS laptop (I can never bring myself to buy an Apple computer, it’s just not worth the extra money to me, it’s literally 2-3 times the price for the same or less specs, plus I bought this at a huge discount during the Black Friday sale), and a handful of nice Canon camera gear (I bought 90% of it used at great deals, because everyone is switching to Sony mirrorless gear, because most people have to always have the best of the best, even if they can’t actually afford it, even if their justifications for needing it make no sense). I would rather own a few nice things than a ton of things and have most of them be junk. Plus I use all of these things for my business. Plus, I used the same two computers for the past 7-8 years… a custom-built desktop PC (~$700) and a Toshiba laptop from Best Buy (~$420). I only upgrade when I desperately have to, or it makes my life insanely more simplified and easier.
- I rarely pay full price when I buy things online. I’ll either buy used, or I’ll find coupon codes, or I’ll negotiate, or I’ll wait until there’s a big sale, or I’ll barter. People that pay full price for everything (or even more than the normal price) simply don’t know any better, or simply don’t care.
- Yes, I have a financial advisor. People are like, “Wow, baller.” Haha. Not at all. He’s great, and doesn’t charge me an hourly rate to talk with him. Most financial advisors won’t talk to you unless you have a ton of money, or unless you pay hundreds of dollars an hour to sit down with them. He’s not like that.
- I’m a single guy, no wife, no girlfriend, no kids, no pets, etc. Sure, you can say it’s easy for me to be vegan because of this line item alone. That’s fine, maybe it is easier for me, but that’s just an excuse. Anyone can do what I’m doing if they really wanted, or they could work harder to have whatever they want, on top of all the extra responsibilities they have compared to me. I purposely set my life up this way, and there are pros and cons to it, it’s not all smiling rainbows. There are people doing everything I’m doing, and more, while raising several kids, or while living with things that we’d consider limitations. Always remember, there are plenty of people with far less than you, with much greater obstacles than you, that will still outwork you.
- I was fired from my last full-time job back on February 17, 2012. I worked a part-time job right after that, for a month or two, but I’ve been on my own ever since. Since that day, personal independence/freedom has always been my top priority. I will always choose a modest life as long as I can do whatever I want every single day. Nothing wrong with having a 9-5 job, and wanting a new car, a big family, a big house, a boat, going out to expensive dinners every weekend, having all the latest tech products, fancy clothes, etc. Some people spend their time and money on all of these things and that’s fine. I just choose to have different priorities. Which are freedom, travel, and food. Most of the time I’m doing one of these things: working on client projects, working on my projects (like this blog, and my other blog, and my podcast), reading books or articles, listening to podcasts, exercising, eating, or sleeping. And outside of that I’m hanging with my family or friends here and there, or I’m traveling, or shooting photos, or trying to get back into doing video work, or just relaxing. Sure, I could always work harder, but that can increase my stress at times, and take away from the much overdue relaxation and sleep that I ignored for way too many years.
- One last point, that I already mentioned earlier, is that I’m almost debt-free. Once that’s officially a thing, my finances (and travels) will be even better than they already are.
Please don’t take any of this as me having an ego, or me bragging about anything, or it sounding like I’m putting down the way you live your life. We are all different and want different things. I’m just explaining how I easily make this work and hoping I can help others (that want to go down this vegan route) find ways to do the same.
Ok, so I went off on a tangent there. I was supposed to be talking about vegan food and eating good shit. Haha.
Moral of the story is, you can find expensive vegan options at restaurants all over the world. You can also find cheaper options too. We also don’t need to eat as much as we do. I’m a fan of intermittent fasting, and I can eat two meals a day and be completely fine. I could probably just eat one big meal in the late afternoon and be good too. I would much rather spend $20 on 2 simple vegan meals, than $20 on 3-6 Standard American Diet (yes, SAD) meals.
We don’t need as much food as we are told, we definitely don’t need to follow the standard government-issued food pyramid, and we surely don’t need to eat 827 pounds of protein a day (yes, it’s true, you can also get protein from plants, give it a try).
If you practice in the kitchen, you’ll find that cooking isn’t that hard either. Especially if you keep things simple like I do. Sure, you can buy all the vegan cookbooks and try to be a badass chef every night of the week, but that might be too much pressure, which could cause you to skip veganism all together.
What do you even eat though?
I eat pasta with pasta sauce and vegetables a lot. It’s simple and cheap. I eat the frozen Amy’s meals which are as simple as it gets, even though they are processed microwavable dinners (is anyone really choosing to cook these for an hour in the oven?). I make smoothies with fruits and veggies. I eat Chipotle often, because I literally never get tired of it. I like trying new restaurants, and snacking at home happens, so those are ways where I splurge a little.
Typically, I spend around $400 a month on food, maybe $500 max when I’m home and eating around Dayton. When I travel out of state or out of the country, it’s likely a little more. Honestly, trying all these restaurants is essentially for business too if we’re getting technical. I would run out of things to talk about here if I stopped trying new things in new places.
I’m not trying to make you change your life. If you want to go vegan, give it a try. Make it happen. If you think it’s costing you too much money, decide if you want to make it a priority, and if you can get rid of some expenses elsewhere.
I don’t have cable, I don’t even have a TV anymore, I have basic insurance on my cheap cars, I rarely buy new clothes (that aren’t my own brands), I don’t go to sporting events, I stopped drinking alcohol over 2.5 months ago, I rarely buy people gifts, I really just live way below my means in a lot of areas, so I can live how I want in other areas.
Again, don’t feel pressured to go vegan, by me or anyone else. But don’t let the cost of food be the reason you quit this path.