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Q. Is it more expensive to eat a healthy, well-balanced whole-food, plant-based diet centered around whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, fruits and veggies.


A. A family of 4 can save as much as $5k a year this way. However, if your grocery spend is mainly comprised of the prepared mock/alternative vegan meats, vegan dairy (cheese, egg replacements, etc., your savings will be minimal to non-existent because they are typically just as expensive as meat/dairy). And while they don't contain cholesterol they are often loaded with additives and saturated fat that aren't health promoting. 


NOTE: $38 billion dollars in federal government subsidies is provided to meat and dairy farmers to help keep the DIRECT cost of products low enough to appeal to customers, while making farmers whole financially. So, vegan or not, we all pay into the pot for the total cost of animal agriculture. To put into perspective the organization, PETA, says that a $7 Big Mac would cost about $20 without the government subsidies that you already pay. So, no matter how you cut it, it's not more expensive to be a health-wealth focused vegan. 


Just like there are differing nutritive plans with non-vegan diets/lifestyles, the vegan journey has many paths-Here are 4:  

WHOLE-FOOD, PLANT-BASED (WFPB) unquestionably the most health-promoting of all lifestyle options, the WFPB lifestyle focuses on a diet composed primarily of minimally processed whole grains, legumes, nuts, beans, vegetables and fruit. Minimally processed refers to whole foods whose vitamins an nutrients are still intact or foods that are minimally altered by the removal inedible parts or gentle cooking processes. WFPB foods focus on maximizing the nutrient capacity of plant-derived foods while simultaneously keep them low caloric.  Examples would be a roasted sweet potato vs sweet potato fries, black bean burger on a 100% whole grain bun vs an ultra processed beyond or impossible burger.  A WFPB is the only known lifestyle that has proven to prevent, treat and reverse our top chronic diseases (Esselstyn Study, Ornish Study, EPIC Study, Montgomery Study, China/Oxford Study).  

In addition to nutritive aspects of the lifestyle, other practices include at least 6 hours a day of sleep, 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise (i.e., brisk walking), minimal to no moderate, processed or ultra processed plant-derived foods, no highly refined sugars, minimal to no added oil and lots of water. WFPB folks, while vegan in the practice of not eating foods derived from animal sources, they may or may not practice a "vegan" lifestyle beyond the plate. Some may buy/wear leather or purchase products that have brought harm to animals or the environment. WFPB folks primary focus typically centers around the optimization of human health. 

Note: A small segment of WFPB lifestyle folks embrace a diet that is at least 90% WFPB vegan with 10% or less of their diet being comprised of animal products.  Herban Eats does not endorse this, as we advocate for a 100% WFPB lifestyle as well as the vegan practice of bringing no harm.   



Typically attracted to the lifestyle through a desire or passion to protect animals, the environment or both, ethical vegans tend to be laser-focused on the idea of bringing no harm whatsoever to animals and/or the environment. The ethical vegan, generally speaking, tends to be less concerned about the nutritive composition/balance of the plate but instead focus on not wearing, eating or supporting companies that produce products or services that bring harm to animals.  Their diet that does not  include, meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey, nor do they wear or purchase clothing or any items that are derived from animals. Some in this group eat healthy, well-balanced diets, while others may not. 


A WFPB vegan intentionally practices the exclusion of bringing harm to animals and the environment while also focusing on 100% whole, food, plant-based (WFPB) vegan nutrition and health. Their diet tends to be similar to that of the 100% WFPB lifestyle (nutrient-rich, low calorie diet and other WFPB lifestyle practices) and while they do support animal and environmental advocacy, their primary focus tends to be around quality of life and the nutritive benefits of the WFPB lifestyle.


Like ethical vegans, most in this category avoid eating, wearing or purchasing anything that has or will bring harm to animals.  With either a lack of concern or focus on the nutritional aspects of the lifestyle, the junk food vegan tends to derive a the majority of their sustenance from high caloric, highly processed vegan products. From fried fast food and ultra processed food fare to grocery store frozen alternative, highly processed alternative animal products (exception-Something Better Foods and Better Chew and a few others that use few ingredients and minimal processing) From vegan doughnuts, cakes, candy, chips, ice creams to ultra processed vegan meat and cheese alternatives, white breads and white pastas; the focus isn't health.  While this, on it's face, appears helpful to the cause of transitioning to a more vegan world, a recent UK study has shown that the vegan meat alternatives have not had any impact whatsoever on the sale of animal meat/products. This means that the consumer is trying the plant based alternatives while still making meat purchases or the largest consumer of alternative meats are vegans. While junk food veganism does aid in the mitigation of harm to animals and a reduced carbon footprint, it may send mixed messages to the vegan-curious, contains nutrient depleted plant resources and is most often loaded with oils, fats, salts and sugars; all of which are detrimental to human health. 


  • If you are in-disease, which means you have been diagnosed with one or more chronic diseases, you should 1) Find a certified, plant-based health coach, a licensed, plant-based nutritionist and/or WFPB board-certified, lifestyle, family or internal medicine physician. 2) Go cold turkey ASAP! I can't emphasize enough to you the kind of russian roulette that you are playing with your health in general; let alone how much more severe the game is when you are actively in-disease.

  • If you're aren't in-disease, exploring a 21 day transition plan with a plant-based professional or taking an immersion course on the lifestyle is a good option (Baxter Montgomery, MD Immersion program is excellent ). Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM.ORG) also offers an excellent 21 day jumpstart program. 

  • The last thing that one should do is decide one day to go vegan with no idea what it requires as a lifestyle and without a why.  The path of trying vegan without doing the due diligence too often leads to weight gain, disappointment, fatigue and ultimately failure. 

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