Eating Plant-Based Can Help You Save $1,260 on Groceries, Study Finds
While we’ve long held here at The Beet that eating vegan can be affordable (and delicious!), we know that healthy eating can have the rep of being pricey. The nutrition research wizards at Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences in Melbourne, Australia are ready to squash that misbelief once and for all.
In their new study, titled “The affordability of a healthy and sustainable diet: an Australian case study” published in a special issue of Nutrition Journal centered on healthy eating and sustainability, scientists portray that a family of four can save $1,800 a year (in Australian dollars, equivalent to about $1260 in US dollars) by making more sustainable food choices at the supermarket.
For their research, the Deakin team analyzed the differences in grocery costs between a basket on the Planetary Health Diet—which emphasizes fresh produce and whole foods while curtailing heavily processed foods—with a supermarket haul based on the typical Australian diet. Designed as a diet “to benefit both people and planet,” the Planetary Health Diet stresses vegetables and fruits for half your plate, with the other half comprised mainly of whole grains, plant protein sources like beans and nuts, and unsaturated plant oils. Starchy vegetables and added sugars make up a slim fraction of the proverbial PhD plate. While the diet isn’t strictly labeled as vegan (“modest amounts of meat and dairy” are allowed), going plant-based, which is known to reduce your environmental footprint, is one healthy way recommended to fit the bill.
Feeding Your Family a Vegan Diet Could Save Over $1,800 Per Year
Now, back to those supermarket sweeps. For the study, researchers purchased hauls at Coles supermarkets in urban outposts in each state, in neighborhoods that fall in different parts of the socioeconomic spectrum to make affordability analyses possible. So what’d they find? Not only were the goods in the Planetary Health Diet basket cheaper than the standard Australian diet basket in all states, as well as all cities included in their research, but it was also cheaper no matter the socioeconomic status of an area.
“We found that a family of two adults and two children could save more than $1,800 a year on their household food budget simply by choosing healthier food based on the Planetary Health Diet,” said Ms. Tara Goulding, who led the study as part of work towards her master's degree, in a university press release.
“There is often a perception that eating a healthy diet that is also good for the environment is unachievable, partly because it will cost more. This study shows that Australians can be confident that it is more affordable to eat a healthy diet that supports the planet compared to what they might typically eat,” Goulding continued.
And when it came to the showdown between supermarket plunder while taking wealth into account, the Planetary Health Diet still reigned supreme. “Our research shows that low socio-economic households need to spend 17 percent [sic] of their income on average to eat a healthy and sustainable diet but 21 percent of their income to eat a typical Australian diet,” Goulding commented. “Households in the higher socio-economic category only need to spend 11 percent of their income to eat a healthy diet and 13 percent to eat a typical Australian diet."
In the US, a Vegan Diet Can Save You About $1,200 Per Year
Stateside, a survey of more than 1,000 Americans this spring found similar savings when it comes to grocery shopping for a plant-based diet, determining that the meatless set saves an average of $23 per week—that’s $1,196 a year—as compared with their meat-eating counterparts.
Bottom line? We can help save the world and our health, along with our bank account, one Planetary Health Diet or vegan grocery basket at a time. “We really hope these results will convince shoppers that making healthier and more sustainable choices at the supermarket will not blow their food budget,” said Goulding.