The cost of being vegetarian

If you’re looking for a husband, a wife, a life partner, you could do worse than consider a vegetarian. Sure, it can mean tetchy conversations when choosing restaurants because many chefs are so unimaginative about vegetarian cooking. And it can cause confusion when in France where the catering industry rarely seems to acknowledge the phenomenon. But while many in my industry despair at vegetarians, I like them.

First of all, vegetarians tend to think about what they’re eating more than most meat eaters and that’s important when you realise that you’re sticking food into your body every day of your life. They also care about the welfare regarding what’s on their plate while, unfortunately, most meat eaters don’t spend enough time to consider the animal that’s been created, reared and slaughtered for their benefit and eat meat from any old source (hence the horse meat scandal). Furthermore, they’ll probably have a good sense of humour – something always mentioned in those dating adverts – because they continuously have to put up with jokes about being weedy, week and pasty which is odd because I know quite a few overweight veggies. But mainly it’s because they cost less to feed. And that, in these cash-strapped times, must be a good thing.

Vegetarians do often cause an additional issue in the restaurant sector because many non-meat eaters wonder why, when their raw materials can cost less than half of the meat on someone else’s plate, the price of their dish is only a bit cheaper on the menu.

It’s not something I’d get into when someone’s just settling down to enjoy their restaurant meal but here, in a few lines, it can be explained. Let’s imagine a meat dish costing £12. £2 of that is VAT leaving £10 to the restaurant. The meat and accompanying food costs round £3, a further £3 goes on wages, a further £3 on all the other overheads such as rent, rates, electricity, gas, insurance and so on with, if all goes well, £1 for net profit. So, if the cost of the actual food was halved to only £1.50 because it’s vegetarian, the overall cost of the dish only reduces by 10 to 15% because the rest of the costs stay the same. However, just as an aside, it’s easy to see how, when the cost of food goes up, if prices to the diners aren’t increased proportionately, the restaurant can quickly lose money on each dish and go bust.

However, with that out of the way, none of those extra costs matter at home. So, by living with a vegetarian, your food bills can be slashed.

So, sitting with a vegetarian friend in the pub the other day, we were discussing exactly this subject while he drank his rather expensive vegetarian beer (oh yes, there is such a thing) and consumed a bag of potato crisps that had cost me 75 pence. He’d been bemoaning this restaurant cost issue and so, on the back of a beer mat, I drew the figures as described above. This seemed to placate him.

I then drew some more figures based on the bag of crisps he was eating. The bag proudly proclaimed that the contents weighed 50g. That’s 20 bags to the kilogram. Quickly Googling wholesale prices for prime spuds, I found that they cost around 35 pence a kilogram and I’m sure the bulk buying of crisp manufacturers means they get them for less than that. However, that meant that each 75 pence bag of crisps contained less than 2 pence worth of potatoes. And it was at that point he agreed to eat in restaurants more often.

So, if like me, you like the idea of a cheap date, find someone who drinks pints of water, no meat and definitely avoids crisps. You’ll have more to spend on your steak, chips and red wine.

Previously published in the Northern Echo

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One comment

  1. Been one for many years and saved a fortune !
    Wish restaurants were more veggie friendly….I can save them a
    Lot if they served more proper veggie food…

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