Eating vegan without spending all your green

One of my vegan friends posted an article on Facebook lamenting those who think a vegan/organic diet has to be an expensive one. Whether you’re vegan for health or ethical reasons, there’s no denying that it can be tough to add variety on a budget.

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 3.36.24 PMNow, I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. I don’t even really like vegetables (but, I try to!). Based upon my research, though, it’s possible to live frugally and flavorfully on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Here are some great tips for cooking at home:

  • Seeds. Choose seeds more often than nuts. Nuts are a great nutritional source for vegans, but can cost a lot more per pound than their seedy counterparts. Sunflower seed kernels can be used for baked goods, spreads, and seed butter, plus more. Organic pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds also cost less than nuts.
  • Liquid smoke. If you’re a new vegan and concerned that you’ll miss meaty flavors too much, season your dishes with liquid smoke. (Yes, that’s a real thing.) Just be careful – too much of it can ruin a dish. Most recipes only recommend a few drops.
  • Beans. Beans and other legumes are nutrient-heavy, like seeds and nuts, and can be used as a great base for several types of dishes – and they’re pretty inexpensive, as well. Lentils are also a staple for the vegan on a budget.
  • The dark, green and leafy. Romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli are relatively inexpensive. As a bonus, the frozen varieties of green veggies are usually just as nutritionally (and wallet) friendly as their fresh counterparts, which make them perfect for cooking.
  • Toppings. “Bacos” bacon-flavored toppings are actually vegan! Use them to add texture and flavor to an otherwise boring salad. Homemade croutons and chopped scallions are also popular toppings for soups and salads. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
  • Long-lasting produce. I get it – we’re busy people. We might not have time to use 4 pounds of bananas before they go bad. Instead of wasting money on produce that’s just going to rot, stock up on long-lasting produce like onions and cabbage. It might take away some variety, but you’ll avoid wasting money on food that may end up going bad.


Some particularly good vegan recipes can be found at – chocolate raspberry smoothies, tomato basil rice, and Cajun cornbread casserole are just a few of the delicious, yet budget-friendly, dishes to enjoy. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve tried these and can vouch for their tastiness!


If you’re looking to eat at a reasonably-priced vegan/vegetarian restaurant in metro Detroit, check out places like Om Café in Ferndale, Seva in Detroit, or Greengos in Grosse Pointe.


Thank you to WiseBread for the information. I know what I’m making for dinner tonight – broccoli pesto pasta.


Author bio: Janelle O’Hara is the primary blogger for, a blog for 25- to 35-year-olds facing life’s big decisions. She’s the social media specialist at Michigan First Credit Union in Lathrup Village. In her spare time, she likes to nerd out over sci-fi and fantasy, try to be an exercise person and cheer on the Tigers and Red Wings.

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