Food Costs of Children and Adolescents Consuming Vegetarian, Vegan or Omnivore Diets: Results of the Cross-Sectional VeChi Youth Study

Nutrients. 2022 Sep 27;14(19):4010. doi: 10.3390/nu14194010.


The aim was to analyse the total food costs and the impact of food groups on total food costs among vegetarian, vegan and omnivore children and adolescents in Germany. Based on three-day weighed dietary records of 6-18-year-old children and adolescents of the VeChi Youth Study, the total daily food costs and food group costs (both EUR/day, EUR/1000 kcal) of a vegetarian (n = 145 records), vegan (n = 110) and omnivore (n = 135) diet were calculated. Minimum retail prices of 1000 empirically selected foods reported in the dietary records were linked to individual food intakes. The group differences were analysed using ANCOVA or Kruskal-Wallis tests. Vegans had the highest energy adjusted total food costs at 2.98 EUR/1000 kcal, vegetarians the lowest at 2.52 EUR/1000 kcal. Omnivores also had significantly higher costs than vegetarians with 2.83 EUR/1000 kcal/1000 kcal (p = 0.01), but the total costs did not differ significantly between omnivores and vegans (EUR/d and EUR/1000 kcal). Compared to vegetarians, vegans had significantly higher expenditures (EUR/day) on fruit (p = 0.0003), vegetables (p = 0.006), dairy alternatives (p = 0.0003) and legumes/nuts/seeds (p = 0.0003). Expenditure on starchy foods was significantly higher in the vegetarian or vegan than in the omnivore diet (p = 0.0003). Omnivores spent a quarter of their total food costs on animal source foods (25%), which is equivalent to the sum of food costs for legumes/nuts/seeds, dairy alternatives and meat alternatives in vegans and additionally dairy in vegetarians. The VeChi Youth Study indicated that financial constraints are not necessarily a barrier to switching to a more plant-based diet.

Keywords: adolescents; children; food costs; omnivore diet; vegan diet; vegetarian diet.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Diet, Vegan
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Humans
  • Meat
  • Vegans*
  • Vegetables
  • Vegetarians