Research highlights the advantages of plant-based diets – being the cheapest and healthiest food option in high-income countries
Research from the University of Oxford discovered that in high-income countries – such as the US, UK, Australia and Western Europe – a vegetarian, vegan or flexible diet can reduce the amount people pay for food by up to a third.
The study, which compared the cost of seven sustainable diets to the current typical diet in 150 countries, used food prices from the World Bank’s International Comparison Program.
A plant-based diet can have heart benefits
The researchers found that in high-income countries, plant-based diets were the most expensive and least expensive to eat by up to a third, with plant-based diets ranked second. In addition, flexible diets with low levels of meat and dairy reduced costs by up to 14%, in contrast to vegetarian diets, which increased costs by up to 2%.
The study focused on whole foods, not including highly processed meat alternatives or eating out at restaurants or fast food.
Dr Marco Springmann, a researcher at the Oxford Martin Program for the Future of Food, said: “We believe a vegetarian, vegan and flexible diet can save you a lot of money will surprise people. When scientists like myself advocate healthy, eco-friendly eating, we are often said to be sitting in our ivory towers to promote Something that is financially out of reach for most people.
“This study shows it is just the opposite. These diets can be better for your bank balance as well as for your health and our planet.”
Miguel Barclay, author of the One Pound Meals cookbook series, added: “I definitely agree that cutting or cutting meat completely will save you money, and there is no doubt that vegetarian and vegan meals almost always come in cheaper than meat recipes. I agree. Of course, cutting or cutting the meat completely will save you money.
“I’ve written seven budget cookbooks and cost hundreds of recipes, and there’s no doubt that vegetarian and vegan meals consistently come at a much lower price than meat recipes.”
Grains, vegetables, and beans are cheap nutrients in a vegetarian diet
The study also indicated that in low-income countries, for example in the Indian subcontinent and in sub-Saharan Africa, eating a healthy, sustainable diet would be up to 25% cheaper than a typical Western diet, but at least a third more expensive than current diets .
When analyzing options, researchers looked at foods that could improve affordability and reduce diet costs, the study looked at several policy options. He finds that making healthy and sustainable diets affordable everywhere will be possible within the next 10 years, if economic development – especially in low-income countries – and reducing food waste, and pricing health-friendly foods become an option.
“A healthy and sustainable diet is possible everywhere, but it requires political will.”
Dr. Springman concluded the final touches: “A healthy, sustainable diet is possible everywhere, but it requires political will. Current low-income diets tend to contain large amounts of starchy foods and not enough foods that we know are healthy. Western-style food, often seen as ambitious, is not only unhealthy, but also largely unsustainable and unaffordable in low-income countries.
“None of the healthy and sustainable dietary patterns we’ve looked at is a better option for health, environment, and finance, but progressive food development and policy support is needed to make it affordable and desirable everywhere.”
Besides the benefits that vegetarian and vegan diets provide for people’s health and financial spending, food movements are also known for their low environmental impact. In addition, they were evaluated for significant reductions in water use and carbon emissions in food production, highlighting the significant difference in carbon emissions from those produced by the meat industry.
Global and regional costs of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns: a modeling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health. The Lancet Planetary Health.