WASHINGTON, D.C.—Food costs decrease 16% on a low-fat vegan diet, a savings of more than $500 a year, compared to a diet that includes meat, dairy, and other animal products, according to a new analysis from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine published in JAMA Network Open.
“We knew that a vegan diet significantly reduces your risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—and now we have proof that opting for beans instead of beef will also lead to significant savings on your grocery bill,” says study co-author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
The research is an analysis of a Physicians Committee study in which participants were randomly assigned to a vegan group or control group. The vegan group was asked to follow a low-fat vegan diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, while the control group was requested to make no diet changes. Calorie intake and food costs were not limited for either group.
For the food cost assessment, the participants’ dietary records were linked to food price data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan, 2021.
Total food costs decreased in the vegan group by 16%, or $1.51 per day, compared with no significant change in the control group. This decrease was mainly attributable to savings on meat, -$1.77 per day, and dairy, -$0.74 per day. Changes in purchases of other food groups (e.g., eggs and added fats) also contributed to the observed savings.
These savings outweighed the increased spending on vegetables, +$1.03 per day; fruits, +$0.40 per day; legumes, +$0.30 per day; whole grains, +$0.30 per day, and meat and dairy alternatives.
The findings support previous research showing that a plant-based diet provides more cost savings than one that includes animal products.
In addition to the cost savings, the study found that a low-fat vegan diet resulted in weight loss and improved body composition and insulin sensitivity in overweight adults.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.
JAMA Network Open
Method of Research
Randomized controlled/clinical trial
Subject of Research
Vegan Diet and Food Costs Among Adults With Overweight: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial
Article Publication Date