vegan food

Vegans and vegetarians set record straight: diet is cheapest, not most expensive

DECO’s assessment compared products available at supermarkets

The Portuguese Vegetarian Association (AVP) has contested consumer watchdog Deco Proteste’s analysis last week that a plant based diet was indeed ‘best for the planet, but also the most expensive’.

‘No way José’, says AVP, a vegan diet is easily the cheapest.

The confusion lies in how DECO Proteste carried out its survey: it compared “a supermarket basket with many dairy substitutes”.

But how many vegans, indeed vegetarians, buy their food at supermarkets? This is the question – vegans and vegetarians invariably buy at farmers’ and bio markets – and consumption is also on a very different plane.

AVP says “contrary to what Deco Proteste conveys, ‘vegan’ consumers are those who spend the least on food in Portugal”.

To be fair, every vegan and vegetarian made aware of DECO’s study last week would say the same.

But AVP clearly insists on setting the record straight publicly.

The association cites another study carried out by three researchers from the University of Beira Interior – Daniel Francisco Pais, António Cardoso Marques and José Alberto Fuinhas – which concluded that “those who opt for a plant-based diet (more specifically, ‘vegan’) are more likely to spend less money on food shopping”.

The study was based on 1,040 ‘online’ surveys answered. Researchers also argue that adopting food policies that align sustainability and affordability can have a positive impact on the promotion of plant-based diets.

“The Portuguese government can make sustainable food more accessible and cheaper with legislative changes,” they write.

According to AVP, more than 60% of vegan consumers confirm that they spend less than €60 a week on food – around €240 in a month – a figure that is only noted by 32% of respondents who follow a diet where meat, fish, eggs and other animal ingredients come in.

Looking at ovolactovegetarians (vegetarians who consume dairy products and eggs), 46% said they spent less than €60 on food.

“Using as a term of comparison the portion of respondents that excludes meat, but includes fish and other animal by-products, 24% have a weekly budget of €40 euros to €59 euros. There are also 24% of vegetarians surveyed with a weekly spend between €60 and €79,” it stresses.

In their conclusions, researchers reiterate that “food spending is higher for consumers who include meat and fish in their diet, compared to all other consumers analysed”.

“These reported an expenditure of €75.96, the highest figure compared to other diets,” they say, putting into perspective the €62.35 expenditure of fish-only eaters, €68.6 of flexitarians, €59.39 of ovolactovegetarians and €47.78 of vegans.

Looking at out-of-home spending, vegans, according to the research, “continue to spend the least money”. Less than five euros a week, for half of the respondents.

“The same amount was only pointed out by 22% of respondents who consume meat, fish and animal derivatives,” indicates AVP.

Last week, Deco Proteste published analysis pointing to the expense of a vegan diet – followed by at least 12% of Portuguese – in spite of the benefits it affords the planet.

DECO analysed the vegan, ovolactovegetarian, Mediterranean and planetary diets (which combine diet, health and protection of the planet) and concluded that the first was “the most expensive, requiring more than €7,000 per year”.

Deco explained that the figures presented were based on “a balanced diet for four people (two adults, one child and one teenager)”.

Source material: LUSA