How Much It Costs to Be Vegan in _______

February 9, 2014

We asked vegans living in four cities across the U.S. how much it costs to be vegan in their town. What does a healthy vegan lifestyle cost in NYC, Boston, Austin, and Eugene, Oregon?

New York City

How much it costs to be vegan in nyc

Jennifer, 24, book editor

“I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which was recently described to me as “chichi.” The cost of living in New York is just about as diverse as its population, but I’d classify myself as making it work on a lower budget than most of my neighbors.”

Household of 1

1. Monthly food budget (include breakdown for groceries, restaurants, cafes)

Groceries: $200
Restaurants: $120
Misc (coffee, tea, drinks): $10
Total: $330

I shop primarily at two local grocery stores, Fairway Market and West Side Market. Fairway has a second floor that is entirely organic, and it has a wonderful self-serve area where you can buy loose grains, nuts, dry fruit, granola, and even grind your own peanut butter. I also like Whole Foods for certain staple items (they have a great selection of frozen vegetables, soy products [cheese, seitan, tofu, tempeh], and cereals at reasonable prices; their produce tends to be more expensive). But I only dare to shop there during off-peak hours; otherwise, I’ll be standing in line for longer than it takes to shop.

2. Other health/beauty/vegan-related expenses: (yoga, gym, vitamins, even alternative therapy–all count!)
Yoga membership (unlimited classes at one location of a chain): $95.75
Outdoor exercise: $0
Vitamins: $5 (I don’t resupply monthly, so this is based on what I buy on average for the year)
Total: $100.75

3. How you save money:

I am a child of the suburbs, so I have an instinct to do things in bulk. My apartment doesn’t allow for storage of big-box items, so my version of bulk includes things like dried beans and grains–largely thanks to the self-serve bar at Fairway–which you can buy a lot of at once (even better when it’s on sale!), cook what you need, and store the rest in minimal space. I also like to cook in large batches: I’ll save half a pot of soup or stew, or a batch of muffins or bread/loaf, to freeze and enjoy at a later date. I stay on budget by writing down everything I spend per week, and if I know that I’ll need to allot for a special purchase (like a gift) I will try to cut back elsewhere.

4. Favorite way to vegan-splurge:

A classic and well made pair of vegan-friendly shoes or a bag–I’ve yet to find such a unicorn, but when I do I will not be looking at the price tag!

5. Favorite vegan restaurant:

The Hummus Place–there are a ton of great vegan options (clearly marked on the menu, too). A meal there is guaranteed to leave me feeling satisfied and healthful but without putting a huge dent in my wallet. It’s also been confirmed by experts of Middle Eastern cuisine that they have the best hummus on the Upper West Side.

Boston

How much it costs to be vegan in boston

Boston Public Garden

Molly, 22, animal rights activist

Household of 1

1. Monthly food budget (include breakdown for groceries, restaurants, cafes):
Groceries: $160
Restaurants: $40-60
Total: $200-220

Tip: If buying organic isn’t a priority, be sure to visit Haymarket, where you can purchase at lease a week’s worth of produce for less than $10.

2. Other health/beauty/vegan-related expenses: 

Yoga: $150
Gym: $10
Vegan multivitamin and vitamin D: $15 per month (check out Vitacost and Vegan Essentials for discounts!); 
Therapy
: $80
Total: $255

3. How you save money:

Buy in bulk! Most Whole Foods and local co-ops offer substantial bulk sections that carry beans, nuts, and seeds–all cheaper than buying prepackaged. I’m also a fan of freezing big batches of food. I’ll cook a huge batch of chili, soup, veggie burgers or hummus, and freeze half for a future week. It’s much more economical than buying commercial veggie burgers and soups, and tastier to boot!

 

how much it costs to be vegan in boston4. Favorite way to vegan-splurge:
Boston is home to FoMu, a fabulous vegan ice cream parlor that features exotic flavors such as cardamom pistachio, avocado, and thai chili peanut. My other favorite splurge is a vegan donut from Sabertooth Vegan Bakery, which sells treats in various vegan-friendly cafes throughout Boston.

5. Favorite vegan restaurant:

So far, my favorite vegan restaurant in Boston is True Bistro. A bit on the fancier side, the restaurant features a seasonal menu and delectable cocktail collection. It’s my favorite place to celebrate special occasions!

 

 

Photo: Michael Durwin via Flickr; True Bistro

Austin, Texas

Samantha, 27, supervisor of professional services at a software company

Household of 2

how much it costs to be vegan in austin

At Magnolia Cafe, a local favorite that boasts an “awesome avocado, hummus, and black bean taco”

1. Monthly food budget (include breakdown for groceries, restaurants, cafes):

Groceries: $320
Restaurants: $140
Total: $460 (for 2)

2. Other health/beauty/vegan-related expenses: 

I only take a vegan B supplement, a D supplement, and sometimes a multivitamin. That comes out to about $5/month. I work out at home or I run, which is free. I use really basic stuff like body lotion, Dr. Bronner’s & almond oil, which comes out to about $10/month.

3. How you save money: 

I put a certain amount of money into savings every month. I also try to cut down on unnecessary spending such as impulsive clothes purchases… but it doesn’t always work!

4. Favorite way to vegan-splurge:
Vegan ice cream from Sweet Ritual (http://sweetritual.com); vegan cheese like Treeline; buffalo popcorn tofu sandwiches at Wheatsville (http://wheatsville.coop); vegan cupcakes from Capital City Bakery (http://capitalcitybakery.com).

5. Favorite vegan restaurant:

Koriente (http://koriente.com) which is a great Korean-inspired place with an almost completely vegan menu. I also loved Native Foods when I lived close to one!

 

Photo: Samantha Lester

Eugene, Oregon

how much it costs to be vegan in eugene, oregon

Eugene, Oregon

Susana, teacher
Household of 3

1. Monthly food budget:
CSA: $100
Groceries: $600-800
Restaurants: $100
Total: about $1,000 (for 3)

We spend a lot of money on food. We try to purchase only vegan and as much organic and local food as possible. Sometimes local is less expensive, sometimes it’s more. Living in Eugene is great because there are so many small organic farms and our famers are able to grow root vegetables and greens through the winter. It’s easy to find local and seasonal produce year round here. We get a weekly Community Supported Agriculture share from Telltale Farms, which provides a lot of our vegetables for the week. We also purchase some foods wholesale though Hummingbird Wholesale, which brings our costs down a bit.

2. Health/Beauty/Vegan Related expenses:
Regular monthly supplements: $50
Add-on supplements: $75
Tea: $30
Gym/yoga: $150
NA visit costs: (variable) $25/mo after insurance (based on a 12 month average).
Total: about $300 a month (for 3)

We buy some supplements to take regularly, such as Udo’s oil for Omegas, B vitamins, D vitamins, and C vitamins. Some months we have add-ons, such as occasional Iron supplements and herbs to support our immune systems, circulation, stress support (Valerian, Passionflower, Skullcap), Cherry Bark cough syrup, etc.  I also drink a LOT of tea. My favorite brand is Traditional Medicine. I take Gypsy Cold Care, dandelion, and red raspberry every day in the winter. We do yoga regularly and my partner and daughter do Zumba together and separately weekly. Since we eat so well, we rarely need to go to the doctor, but we do have the occasional visit to the naturopath.

3. How you save money:  
We save a lot of money my making almost all of our food from scratch. We don’t go out to eat very often, both because it can be difficult to find gluten-free and vegan offerings and because it is expensive. Food from scratch tastes better, it is healthier, and it is cheaper. The con of scratch food is that it also takes a significant amount of time to plan and make, but for our family the pros heavily outweigh the cons. As I mentioned above, I also order food wholesale (quinoa, olive oil, maple syrup, gluten free pasta, and hazelnuts), which also brings down our overall monthly bills.

hotel vintage plaza portland

Hotel Vintage Plaza in Portland

4. Favorite way to vegan-splurge:

My favorite vegan splurge is taking a trip north to Portland. There tons of fantastic vegan restaurants there.  We enjoy booking a hotel room downtown (Hotel Vintage Plaza is our favorite because we can bring our tiny hounds with us), plan an agenda (usually including a record store or two, Powell’s books, art museum, and as many vegan cafes and restaurants as we can fit in), and have a couple days of vegan vacation. Super fun. This can be a very expensive splurge, so we only do it twice a year or so.

 

Photo: Don Hankins via Flickr; Hotel Vintage Plaza

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Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.

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