One of the more common questions and criticisms I receive about a plant-based diet…
“Isn’t it expensive?”
“I could never afford to go vegan.”
“Whole Foods is pricey.”
But is it true? Is veganism, more specifically vegan bodybuilding really that expensive?
The answer: Yes and No…
Veganism, just like anything else in life can be expensive. Living in a capitalistic society allows for different products, services, competition, quality of goods, and prices.
Can you eat a plant-based diet that’s cheap and sustainable to your wallet? Of course! The same goes for all other facets of life.
And just because you may be eating more for the goal of bodybuilding or fitness, doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of extra cash either.
Let’s see how to do vegan bodybuilding both the wrong and the right way, so you can benefit your muscles and your wallet.
The Wrong/Expensive Way To Vegan Gains
Buying tons of mock meat and dairy alternatives?
Ready to eat meals and snacks?
Frozen pizzas and microwavable foods?
If you’re shopping cart is filled up with any of the things above, you’re going to put a dent in your bank account.
Yes, in this case of veganism, it is expensive.
It might be tempting to load up on a ton of mock meat, alternatives, and foods that are ready to eat/pre-made.
Mock meat and pizzas do have a good amount of protein and calories to help those muscle gains… but there are 2 problems with it.
- It’s expensive
- It’s not healthy
Just 1 package of beyond burgers will cost you $5 for two patties. Frozen pizzas will easily cost around $12. A small pack of vegan cheese is $8. Some alternatives are cheaper than others, but vegan food that’s pretending to mimic non-vegan food will cost you.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat an Impossible or Beyond Burger from time to time. It works great as a cheat meal. And cheat meals have even been shown to keep your metabolism in check!
But every day or even every other day is just too much.
Secondly, these foods are not all that healthy.
Just because something is ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ does not mean it’s good for you.
Lots of these mock meat alternatives have high levels of sodium, oil, and additives that I would rather not digest within my body.
The same can be said for vegan cheese and butter that is not made from nuts.
So, now that we know the expensive way to vegan, what’s the right way?
Is vegan bodybuilding just expensive and you’ll have to live with it?
The Right/Cheap Way To Vegan Gains
Skip the processed foods.
If you want to make real gains and improve your health without spending a massive budget, stick to real whole foods.
That means eating more:
- Fruit and Berries
- Plant-Based Milks
Below are some tips and tricks to help you save with all the different foods that’ll help you grow on your fitness journey!
Legumes (like beans) are super cheap. You can buy them dry in bulk at stores like Whole Foods. 1 pound of dry legumes will cost you no more than a few dollars and can last you weeks even months! Beans are also a fantastic source of protein with one cup of black beans yielding around 14 grams of protein. You have many legumes to choose from as well:
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
Just adding half a cup of legumes to your plate will add quality protein, carbs, and nutrients.
Next up is grains! Try consuming high-quality grains like:
They are also fantastic sources of protein. They’re also high in fiber, antioxidants, and B vitamins. Consuming more grains has also been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases. By consuming more grains, you’ll also gain a good deal of energy. I highly recommend starting your day off with a bowl of steel cut oats. It’ll help keep you full and give you an extra boost before your workout! You can also buy grains dry and bulk for super cheap!
If you aren’t consuming nuts and seeds daily as a vegan looking to gain muscle, you’re doing it wrong! Nuts and seeds are super high in protein! Just take hemp seeds for example – just 3 tablespoons has over 10g of protein. Add nuts and seeds to salads, vegan yogurts, sandwiches, breakfast bowls, smoothies, shakes, and so much more!
Try consuming the following:
- Hemp Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds
Nuts and seeds are super cheap sources of protein and nutrients. Try purchasing them in bulk if you can. If you can’t, go to a superstore like Costco or BJ’s and you should be able to get a large package of them that’ll last you a while.
There’s a reason why your mom always told you to eat your vegetables! Vegetables are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals, which are super essential in helping fight disease and speeding up muscle recovery. If there are any vegetables I highly recommend, it’s dark leafy greens.
- Swiss Chard
Spinach is the king of muscle building. There’s a reason why Popeye ate so much! Spinach has compounds known as betaine and phytoecdysteroids, both of which have been proven to increase athletic performance, endurance, strength, and muscle!
Try other vegetables as well:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Avocados (technically a fruit)
Depending on the store you shop for groceries, vegetables will vary in price. Knowing the time, dates, and seasons for food is very important if you want to save money. For example, broccoli is in season from October to April. Another tip is to store your vegetables in the fridge to increase their expiration dates. And the absolute best way to get vegetables for cheap (actually free) is by growing them yourself! Investing in a garden is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Free 100% organic food without any pesticides, chemicals, and other crap! It’ll also help keep you active and give you some sun and Vitamin D!
The absolute best foods for muscle recovery are fruits and berries. If you have extremely sore muscles post-exercise, start loading up on some berries which are loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants.
- Goji Berries
Eating berries will help your muscles recover faster and come back stronger than ever. Remember, it’s not just about protein! Other micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are just as important too! One study on blueberries showed that the fruit “accelerates recovery of muscle peak isometric strength… and specifically target health and performance adaptation.” Now, I’ll be first to admit. Fruits are expensive. Try going to any store and buying raspberries. For a little plastic container, you’ll end up spending $5 easy. But here’s the hack to save you a ton of money! Buy frozen… Buying fruits and berries frozen is super cheap! The best part is, it extends the expiration date a ton! Ever go to the store to buy some fruit, only to have it be mushy and dead after a few days? If you buy frozen fruits, they’ll be good for over 1 year! Talk about a penny saver.