As Malaysians, we may cringe at the word vegan. After all, our local cuisines are notorious for containing lots of chicken, beef, fish and prawns. But in recent times, not only are animal products and by-products getting more expensive, they are also making the planet a worse place to live in. If you need some convincing to switch to a plant-based diet, then perhaps these facts may just change your mind. How Much Do Malaysians Spend on Groceries? Recent statistics in July 2023 showed that Malaysians spend an average of RM400 a month on groceries. But this is a modest amount. These days, RM400 would easily fill up a shopping cart for a one-off grocery run. This does not include other dairy products like milk or animal byproducts like eggs, which Malaysians are known to consume a lot of. According to the study, animal products like beef and poultry easily make up 25% of the amount as opposed to what you may spend on vegetables, which may not go over RM30 for a single grocery run. Are You Really Saving Money If You Go Vegan? According to this Oxford study, there can be many financial benefits to adopting a fully vegan and vegetarian diet. But also of cutting down your annual consumption of meat products in general (what many may call a \u2018flexitarian\u2019 diet). The study found that vegan diets reduced food costs the most, by more than 30 percent. Vegetarian diets came close. Flexitarian diets, which are diets that involve an occasional or sparing consumption of meat and dairy, reduced food costs by 14%. While this study is limited to the US, the UK, Australia and across Western Europe, there is no reason its findings cannot be translated to Asian countries such as Malaysia. The cost of producing, harvesting and processing animal products has always incurred huge costs worldwide. Plant-based foods, on the other hand, are abundant all over the country and require significantly less resources to maintain. They are also more sustainable in the long run. Financial Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet Lower Grocery Bills One of the most apparent ways plant-based lifestyles save you money is by reducing your grocery bills. Fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts tend to be more affordable than animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs. When you base your meals around these inexpensive plant-based staples, your grocery budget can significantly shrink, leaving more money in your wallet. Extended Shelf Life Plant-based foods typically have longer shelf lives compared to animal products. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans are less perishable and can often be stored for longer periods. This can help reduce food waste, saving you money that might otherwise have been wasted on spoiled or expired items. Affordable Protein Sources Protein is a crucial component of a healthy diet, and many believe that obtaining it from animal sources is the only way to get high-quality protein. However, plant-based sources of protein such as lentils, beans, tofu, and quinoa are not only nutritious but also budget-friendly. They provide the necessary protein without the added cost and potential health risks associated with animal protein. Fewer Eating-Out Expenses Plant-based lifestyles often encourage home cooking, which can significantly cut down on eating-out expenses. When you cook your own plant-based meals, you have more control over ingredients and portion sizes, making it easier to stick to a budget. Moreover, plant-based restaurants and cafes are on the rise, providing more cost-effective dining-out options for those who prefer convenience. Other Adjacent Benefits of Plant-Based Diets The financial benefits of a vegan diet need not directly correlate with groceries or other food expenditures. Other advantages of reducing the consumption of animal products also offer other opportunities for you to save money: Reduced Healthcare Costs Plant-based diets are well documented for their positive effects on health. When you consume fewer processed foods and animal products, you're less likely to develop chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Fewer health problems mean fewer medical bills and a lower reliance on prescription medications, which can lead to substantial long-term savings. Reduced Environmental Costs While not a direct financial benefit, a plant-based lifestyle indirectly saves you money by contributing to a healthier environment. A healthier environment means reduced expenditures on disaster recovery, healthcare costs related to pollution, and long-term sustainability efforts. These savings, although not immediately noticeable in your personal finances, can have a significant impact on society's overall economic wellbeing. Things to Consider About Plant-Based Diets It\u2019s important that you never go into a fully vegan or vegetarian diet completely and all at once, overnight. For one, you may end up malnourished, especially since vegan diets are quite notorious for being high-carb, low-protein. Be sure to do your research to find the most nutrient-dense foods that you may not so easily find as a first-time vegan. For instance, there are some nutrients that you will always have trouble getting enough of on a vegan diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B12. The nutrients that you would normally get from meat, milk and eggs are absent or lacking in a wholly plant-based diet. Mushrooms, broccoli, quinoa, and certain legumes such as peas, lentils and kidney beans have a higher amount of protein than their other plant cousins. Tofu products are a close second. Many vegans may spend their entire time trying to replicate the texture of meat and neglect to replicate the same protein content. Some of the most common deficiencies associated with veganism are iron deficiency, iodine deficiency, and vitamin B12 deficiency. These can lead to weak nails, hair loss and anaemia. While taking supplements circumvents these side effects, its best to get your nutrients from whole foods in a sustainable, enjoyable way. Save Money, Go Vegan You don\u2019t have to go fully vegan to save more money. Adopting a partial vegan diet may be enough to make a dent in your savings. All it takes is a little research and some creativity. With small changes to your diet, you could make a world of difference. Not just for your wallet, but for the whole planet. Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!