How To: Afford Alternative Sources of Protein on a University Student's Budget

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while making a lifestyle change, such as converting to vegetarianism, is to go into the change completely uneducated. This can cause not only personal health problems (depending on the change), but relapse and resistance to try again. One of the biggest priorities of a vegetarian is to find methods of replacing protein formerly absorbed from meat with different alternatives. Add a university student’s budget on top of that and the search for affordable sources of protein takes on another challenge.


STOP! Before you do any research, calculate a budget you would like to set for yourself, otherwise you might overspend and potentially put yourself in financial risk. Remember to make the budget realistic – limiting yourself to $20.00 for protein source for an entire month is not realistic.


According to Harvard Medical School, “The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.” This is important to calculate because too little or too much protein can effect your body’s performance.


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Theres a reason why we use food to train animals: it’s a natural motivator. The same applies to humans. In order to stick to a diet consisting of protein alternatives that are not meat, you need to make it tastes good. Logic says, if you hate spinach, but buy 10 bags of it for good protein, odds are 9 of those bags are going to go to waste. Good sources of protein that are tasty include “chicken” nuggets made from soy, hummus, nuts such as almonds, and a variety of vegetables from broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes.


With a simple Google search, you will be able to find grocery stores in your area. Many grocery stores offer an online inventory or the weekly circular at least. Using these as guides, go through each store’s options and make a list of each item, along with its price, and tally up the total. Compare all total costs of each store, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Which store offers the lowest prices for the most product?
  • Is there certain items I need that are not offered at this particular store?
  • Do I have the luxury of visiting all the stores and getting each item at its lowest price?

You may even want to consider creating a pros and cons list of each item and/or store. Planning is a vital step that is too often overlooked, and although it may be time consuming, it will inevitably be the deciding factor on your outcome.

5. BUY

This step is somewhat self-explanatory, but here are a few final tips:


  • Use coupons and discounts to get the best offer. Many stores offer coupons in weekly circulars, discounts on mobile apps, etc.
  • Ask about produce – you are putting these items into your body, therefore you have a right to know where they came from, how their freshness was maintained, how long they were at the store for, etc.
  • Eat before shopping! Shopping while hungry results in poor food choices and unnecessary money spent.


In summary: budgetting, planning, and comparing are your best friends when attempting to buy meatless, protein-high foods on a university budget while finding foods you enjoy are helpful for maintaining said diet. The balance of all of these things allows for you to enjoy a vegetarian, protein diet that will keep you healthy and financially stable.

Originally posted on VEGETERINISM.

Photo credit: Pexels / Pixabay