With discussion of food deserts circulating in proliferation and concern that eating fast food is a lot cheaper than buying fresh produce, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that eating healthier will take a serious toll on your bank account. But that’s a myth, at least according to a new study from researchers at Miriam Hospital and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, which found that a plant and olive oil-based diet could actually help you save $750 annually, when compared with regular protein-centric nutritional guidelines.
“We did this analysis because it is commonly said that healthy diets are expensive and that it is the fruits and vegetables that make them too expensive,” said Mary Flynn, PhD, a research dietitian at The Miriam Hospital and the lead researcher on the study. “Extra-virgin olive oil is also thought to be expensive, but we suspected it was meat that made a diet expensive, and extra-virgin olive oil is cheaper than even small amounts of meat.”
They were correct. When it comes to maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle, buying meat often digs deeper into our wallets than meat-free protein sources. Studies show that low-income households spend the bulk of their grocery money on meat, eggs, and cereal. If you’re following a vegan diet plan, you have just eliminated the first two costly ingredients.
The vegan diet, for instance, is so cheap that a college student can do it. One college student wrote a blog post recently for The Guardian and explained how cheap meals like a microwaved sweet potato stuffed with hummus can make a filling and cheap lunch. Other cheap ingredients include legumes like lentils, miso, and curries.