Veganism on a Student Budget

A common misconception about veganism is that it is so expensive.

We recently tackled some of the concerns and issues surrounding this in our latest blog post: Is veganism only for the rich? It can be expensive to be vegan, sure. But it is totally possible to do veganism on a budget. To give you a real life, down to earth perspective on a cheap vegan life we asked two members of our team, Arja Sivapiragasam and Mariel Melø Hansen to tell us how they do it. You might find yourself picking up some great hints and tips on how to save money and have a great time as a student whilst simultaneously saving animals lives.

‘Being vegan is way more expensive than eating ‘normally’.
— Some guy

So many people try and compare different diets, forgetting that there are so many factors that contribute to a diets cost for different people. However we can say from our own personal experience, that going vegan turned out waaaaaaaay cheaper than we expected it to be. In fact we spend less money now than we did before. You've probably already heard the advices on buying in bulk, not going to the shop on an empty stomach, and bringing leftovers for lunch so we're not gonna repeat that stuff. What we will do though, is to give you our tips on favourite cheap food for different occasions. What can you make for dinner when you really don't wanna cook? What's the best snack for a long day in the library, what the hell can you have when you're too broke and hungover and still craving an awesome breakfast? We got your back, we're gonna answer all of this!

When you’re at the supermarket but realise you've spent most of your allowance at Starbucks...

We would recommend to always keep rice, potatoes, pasta, tinned tomatoes and beans in your kitchen cupboard along with some frozen veggies in the freezer. Also consider investing in a selection of spices and don’t forget condiments, such as ketchup, Sriracha and soy sauce. With these few items the possibilities are endless. It's a really great idea to stock up on this stuff when your student loan comes in so that you know you have it for the rest of the semester.

Arja’s favourite spice is smoked paprika powder which goes really well in chilies. Mariel is highly dependent on garlic powder because she is usually too lazy to prepare garlics herself. And it makes basically everything taste better. So far the only known exception to this rule is porridge! Whatever you do, don't try this at home.

When you’ve been on a night-out and your drunk friend Ralph wants to get kebabs...

We all know the drill. You go for pre-drinks with your friends, share a pack of crisps and some vodka and hit the club. It’s all fun and games until you’re on your way home and people start enthusiastically chanting “kebabs, kebabs, kebabs”. It can be uncomfortable to explain to drunk people that you can’t participate in their drunken endeavours. But we’re here to tell you that you can.

After a night-out chips (french fries) are always a great option, and sometimes you might even be able to get your hands on a falafel wrap (just make sure that it doesn’t contain eggs, if you avoid the dressing you're usually safe). The really awesome thing about falafel, besides the yummyness, is that it's usually cheaper than kebab. Win/win!

If you live in Bergen, we highly recommend dragging your friends along to Los Tacos where you can buy a decently priced vegan burrito with a student discount. In Oslo there are loads of options for drunk food. Just download the Vegan Norway app on iPhone and Android and it will let you know which of the best vegan fast food places are open.

When you wake up the next day with a mean hangover and the only thing that will save you is a ridiculous breakfast...

The most satisfying option here is definitely to make scrambled tofu. If you can’t get your hands on tofu, beans on toast will also make life a little better.

When the hangover is extra hard, even the thought of putting a slice of bread in the toaster can be too much hassle for your poor hungover self. That's when you ask a friend to bring vegan spring rolls from Deli De Luca. They're oily and salty and nice. Everything you could possibly want in a crunchy little roll. If you live in Oslo we also recommend checking out Foodora, they do a great delivery service and many of the restaurants they list have vegan stuff.

If you are able to leave the house and you live in Oslo, we REALLY recommend going to Pobberiet and trying their vegan full English breakfast. It's the absolute bomb!

When you’re feeling tired after a long day of studying and you want something quick...

Rice noodles! They cook almost instantly and you can buy them at most Asian supermarkets. We recommend adding some vegetable stock into the boiling water for some added flavour. Add some steamed veg and a little soy sauce and you’re good to go.

Not feeling the noodle vibes? Try making a quick curry! Mix a can of coconut milk with some curry paste, and chuck in whatever veggies you have on hand. Add some rice if you have it, and voila!

When your friends invite you to a Lord of the Rings marathon, and they want you to provide the snacks...

Don’t panic, this is a good thing. This way you know the snacks are vegan and your friends will be eating vegan as well. We like to bring popcorn, crisps, dark chocolate, Oreo’s, nuts and strawberries. Saving the animals, one Oreo pack at a time.

If you're looking for something even more filling for the hours of movie watching ahead or maybe you want a healthy alibi for the Oreo's; chop up some veggies and make a simple hummus. Chickpeas mixed with some olive oil, water and garlic powder (yup, we said it) can be enough to make a nice dip. 

When you’re at the library cramming for an exam and your stomach is rumbling...

Avoid the embarrassment of a noisy tummy by always keeping a pack of rice crackers, peanut butter and some fruits in your bag. We like to bring dates... as in the dried fruit. We wouldn’t recommend bringing a date to the library as you wouldn’t be able to speak to them if you did.

Maybe bringing a silent date to the library is exactly what you want, in that case we recommend that you bring some extra rice crackers for sharing. Oh, and if you also have some homemade sweets available, your lucky date is going to melt like a vegan chocolate! Keep reading for tips on the homemade sweets department.

When you want to impress someone with your baking skills because well, who needs to know you don't really bake? 

When life gives you almost-too-ripe bananas, make banana bread! Instead of eggs you can mix ground flax seeds with a little water. It will also work perfectly fine with some oil and baking soda. Brownies can also be made in the simplest way! Buy the Toro brownie mix and use banana or the aforementioned flax seeds instead of eggs. Easy peasy! And no one needs to know that you used Toro. Your secret is safe with us.

You don't have to be rich to be vegan,
Don't have to be cool to rule my world...

Sorry but we couldn't help get a Prince reference in there, AND it's true! The cheapest stuff in the shop is very often vegan food, when you think about it. You don't have to give away many pennies for certain vegetables and fruits in season, pantry staples like rice, pasta and oats, bread, beans and all the other stuff we already mentioned. These foods can not only be very budget friendly, but also make loads of satisfying meals. You don't have to miss out on anything just because you're a broke vegan. Carbs from rice, pasta or veggies combined with proteins from legumes or for example tofu and a little avocado awesomeness will fill you up and also make a perfect leftover lunch box!

This post was written by Arja Sivapiragasam and Mariel Melø Hansen, two awesome vegan students. You can find them on instagram at @arjajs and @marielel. If you would like to get involved with helping veganism grow by sharing your perspective of veganism with the world then please check out our team page.