Veganuary: Why vegan meals are actually 40% cheaper than meat dishes

Vegan meals are also quicker to prepare than their meat-based counterparts, according to a study of 11,000 people

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Have you been trying Veganuary this year? The annual challenge, in which hundreds of thousands of people all over the world try and go vegan for the month of January, has never been popular. Neither have the best vegan cookbooks, which are more in demand than ever as more people decide to make the switch to plant-based meals. 

There are potential health and environmental benefits involved in going vegan, but a new study suggests there's also a different kind of benefit – a financial one. 

The study, commissioned by the Veganuary organisation and conducted by pollster Kantar, found a surprising price discrepancy between vegan meals and meat-based ones. Kantar’s usage panel recorded online weekly meal diaries from around 11,000 people in Britain for 52 weeks. Analysing the cost, and time spent preparing, plant-based meals and meat-based ones showed a selection of interesting results. 


A main meal (lunch and dinner) containing meat, fish or poultry costs, on average, £1.77 per person. Meanwhile, a plant-based main meal is cost an average of 40% less, at just £1.06 per person. That's a saving of 71p (or approximately one dollar) per portion. The cost savings are seen fairly equally across lunch and dinner.

Plant based meals are also said to be quicker and easier to prepare. The study found that "a meat/fish-based dinner takes 37.5 minutes to prepare, on average, whereas a plant-based dinner is 32% quicker at just 25.4 minutes". Lunches told very much the same story, being 37% quicker on average to prepare.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is a popular theory that veganism is very expensive, requiring meat substitutes or pricey organic ingredients. However, this study suggests the average household spends less on a plant-based diet than it does on a meat-based one.

It's worth noting that meat, especially the non-processed kind, still has plenty to offer. Meat is full of protein, beneficial healthy fats and micronutrients like iron, which keeps our energy levels high. Fish is also very high in protein, and oily fish like salmon is full of omega-3.

However, if your diet consists of one too many burgers and bacon sandwiches, taking on a challenge like Veganuary could help you think differently about food.

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Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.