How I eat a vegan diet on $400 a month with rising food costs


The rising cost of food is a concern for many Canadians, and it can be especially challenging for those following a vegan diet. 

According to recent statistics, the largest year-over-year price increase was for a unit of romaine lettuce, which saw a staggering 45.2 per cent spike in cost. This is followed by a 42.8 per cent increase for 454 grams of butter, a 35.9 per cent hike for a unit of limes, a 36.9 per cent surge for 907 grams of margarine, and a 33.9 per cent increase for 500 grams of flatbread or pita. While there has been a whopping 31.6 per cent rise in price for 1.36 kg of carrots, avocados, per unit, reduced by 2.4 per cent. There is a complete list of items which show the rise in price in Alberta. 

A report by Statistics Canada outlines that the cost of food has increased 8.90 per cent in March of 2023 over the same month in the previous year. 

According to a recent study, three-in-four Canadians have reported that the increasing prices have impacted their capability to manage their daily expenses such as transportation, housing, food, and clothing. Consequently, many Canadians are adapting their spending patterns and postponing the buying of a new property or shifting to a new rental in order to cope up with this ongoing financial challenge.

Canada’s Food Price Report 2023 shows that prices for all food categories could increase by up to seven per cent in 2023. In 2022, Alberta had seen the highest increase in food prices of all Canadian provinces.

As a province, Alberta saw some of the highest increases in food prices across the country. (Photo provided by Canada Food Report 2023)

The report also predicts that a family of four can expect to spend $16,288.41 for food in 2023. 

Examples of Canadian Households and Predicted Annual Food Expenditure 2023 (Photo provided by Canada Food Report 2023)

Food insecurity a growing problem

“Food security will continue to be a concern for many in 2023 as the price of food is expected to increase,” the report concluded. 

These numbers are concerning, especially for those who rely on fresh produce and plant-based proteins. However, it’s important to remember that there are still ways to eat a healthy and affordable whole-food-plant-based diet.

How I eat a well nourished vegan diet on $400 a month 

Items below lasted for over a month bringing the average monthly grocery expenditure way below $400.

  • 1 kg Organic chickpea pasta: $12.99 
  • 340 g each Veggie ground: 5.45 x 2
  • 1 kg Oats: 2.79
  • 2 kg Frozen blueberries: $11.99
  • 1.75 kg Frozen Broccoli: $8.00
  • 454 g Tofu: 2.99 x 3
  • Fresh fruit (bananas, apples, oranges, seasonal fruit): $70
  • Fresh vegetables: $150
  • 796 ml each Canned tomatoes: a total of $4
  • 1.36 kg Almonds: $15.99 (lasts for 2 months)
  • 1.36 kg Walnuts: $11.99 
  • 906 g Quinoa: 6.49
  • 1 kg Dates: $7.99
  • 1 L Olive Oil: $6
  • Beyond meat burger: $17.99 or Bean burger: $14.99 (approx 15 patties)
  • 1.8-2 kg Pack of chickpeas/beans: $5.99
  • 1.8-2 kg Lentils: $6 
  • 6 x 946 ml Organic oat beverage/alternative: $13.99 (lasts for 2 months)
  • Seeds: ( Pumpkin/flax/chia/hemp): approx $20 
  • Coffee/Tea: $10
  • Non-dairy Ice cream: $5 x 2
  • Spices: bought in bulk for a quarter bringing the monthly average to $6-7

I buy these items in bulk from grocery giants like Costco, Superstore, Walmart and Safeway. To support healthy living, I do take and support consuming vitamins, iron, plant based protein powder along with a diet.

One of the solutions to go plant-based without breaking the bank is to focus on buying in-season produce, which is often more affordable and more nutritious than out-of-season options. Another option is to look for frozen fruits and vegetables. These are often just as healthy as fresh options and can be stored for longer periods. When it comes to protein sources, legumes, and grains are affordable and nutritious options. 

Buying these in bulk can save money in the long run, and cooking them from scratch can add variety to your meals while also being more cost-effective.

Another way to stay on budget is to embrace the cycle of scrappy cooking. I look for recipes which have proven that being creative with all ingredients is the key towards sustaining a healthy diet on a budget. I do not let anything go to waste. Afterall, being vegan is a lifestyle. I use onion peels to make home-made onion powder, orange peels to make a face scrub, pulp remains from the juicer make a mean wrap too! 

Over the years, negative portrayal of veganism by extremists has created a widespread reputation that vegans are aggressive activists. That’s a shame because it discourages people from learning about veganism and it benefits your body and the environment. The planet is being destroyed by our insatiable appetite for meat. However, the alternative options are becoming more appealing in both appearance and flavor with each passing day.

As a child, I was exposed to the brutal reality of CO2 slaughter methods and animal cruelty through a documentary, and from that moment on, veganism or a plant-based diet became a natural choice for me. As I grew older, I realized that this decision was not only a matter of personal choice but also an important contribution to the planet and taking a stand against animal cruelty. I made a conscious choice to fully embrace a plant-based diet each day and to not consume animal products in any way. 

The rising cost of food can be a challenge, but there are still ways to eat a healthy and affordable vegan diet. By being mindful of our choices and seeking out affordable options, we can continue to support a sustainable and compassionate lifestyle. 

From April 16–22, rabble staff is participating in #2023VeganChallenge and we encourage you to come along with us for the ride! Share your vegan recipes and creations on social media with the hashtag #2023VeganChallenge – and we’ll do our best to reshare. 

If you’re interested in receiving an email at the end of our challenge with includes all the recipes we’ve shared as part of our #2023VeganChallenge, please sign up here! 

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