Can You Save Money Going on a Vegetarian, Vegan or Other Popular Diet?

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Can You Save Money Going on a Vegetarian, Vegan or Other Popular Diet?
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Can You Save Money Going on a Vegetarian, Vegan or Other Popular Diet?

Does going on a diet save money? We took a look at the costs of going vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and more. While there is usually a low-cost way to manage most of these diets with careful spending, a general cost comparison led to some surprising results. Read on to discover what we found.

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Average Cost of Food

According to the USDA, the average cost of food at home last October for a family of four on a moderate plan is up to $241.20 per week, or a daily cost of $8.61 per person.

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The majority of the population falls under this category of meat and vegetable eaters. According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, more than half of the meat Americans eat is red meat.

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Red meats like beef and pork are among the most expensive food items. For example, the average cost of ground beef is $3.82 per pound and pork chops run about $3.61 per pound, far more expensive than alternative protein sources like dried beans which can cost a little over $1 per pound.

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A "flexitarian" diet reduces meat consumption without becoming full vegetarians. By choosing to eat less of expensive animal protein sources and more of cheaper plant-based protein sources, the savings can be significant. The flexible nature of the diet allows you save money by buying what is on sale.

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Vegetarians avoid eating meat, and diets range from semi-vegetarian, which cut out certain animal proteins, to strict vegan, which abstain from all animal products including eggs and dairy. Let's take a look at the most common plant-based diets.

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A pescetarian diet is a semi-vegetarian diet that includes fish and shellfish, and the most popular seafood are shrimp, canned tuna and salmon. Seafood prices change day to day, ranging from nearly $6 per pound of white shrimp to about $1-$2 per six ounce can of albacore tuna. Opting for frozen seafood, which is sometimes better than fresh, can typically save you money.

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Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

By cutting out meat like beef, chicken and pork, you'll save a considerable amount of money. But, fresh produce and whole grains can be costly. According to the USDA ERS, fresh hearts of Romaine lettuce cost about $2 per pound and fresh tomatoes range from $1.75 to $3 per pound. Stock up on cheaper staples like fresh potatoes (about $.50 per pound), dried lentils (just over $1 per pound), black beans ($1.07 per pound of dried beans) and eggs.

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This strict vegetarian eliminates all animal products, including dairy and eggs. The inclusion of more soy products as a protein alternative can sometimes be pricey. Soy milk can cost about $1.50 to $2 more than regular milk, and any processed veggie alternatives like soy-based hot dogs or veggie burgers are usually more expensive than their meat counterpart. Again, bulking up on cheap staples can help mitigate that cost.

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Vegetarians, vegans and others with dietary restrictions choose to adopt such a lifestyle for various reasons, such as health, ethical or religious causes. While cost is usually a less prominent factor, it is definitely important to consider.

For those considering a plant-based diet, the thought of spending more money on pricey produce may deter you. However, cutting out meat from your diet can save you a lot of money. This begs the question: does going on a meat-less or other type of diet actually save money?

We took a look at the costs of going vegetarian, vegan and more. While there is usually a low-cost way to manage nearly any of these diets with careful spending, a comparison of the general costs led to some surprising results.

Check out the slideshow above to find out if you can save money going on a vegetarian, vegan or other popular diet.

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