How to be a vegan on a student budget

How to be a vegan on a student budget

This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 15 Oct, 2020

Trying to balance the challenges of being a student and being vegan isn’t as hard as it may seem at first. Yes, you need to ensure you have a healthy and balanced diet, but university canteens, supermarkets and fast food chains all now have vegan-friendly options, especially since students today are “six times more likely” to avoid eating animals than their parents.

Here’s a guide to help you easily seek out delicious plant-based meals that are well within your student budget.

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Supermarkets with vegan food

Most supermarkets in the UK offer vegan products, including Tesco, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Iceland and Morrisons – to name a few. There are lots of plant-based options like meat, dairy and even egg alternatives, as well as many ready-made vegan meals. The best way to check out the ranges and deals each supermarket offers is via their websites.

In most cities and towns, you will also be able to find independent stores that specialise in vegan food, toiletries and other products. A quick online search will bring up what you’ve got locally.

Fast food restaurants in the UK with vegan options

As a vegan you don’t have to forgo the convenience of picking up a meal or snack from fast food restaurants. Here are some of the vegan options available across the UK:

Burger King: Meatless Rebel Whopper

McDonald’s: Veggie dippers (made of rice, red peppers, tomato pesto and split peas, fried in breadcrumbs)

KFC: Original recipe vegan burger

Greggs: Vegan steak bake and vegan sausage roll

Nando’s: Vegan perinaise, peri peri nuts, spicy mixed olives, hummus with peri peri drizzle, Veggie Cataplana (chargrilled veg, beans and chickpeas in a spicy tomato and coconut sauce), house salad, Grains ‘n Greens Salad, mixed leaf salad, spicy rice, garlic bread, chips, pitta with lettuce, semi-dried perii tomatoes and cucumber moons, wrap with lettuce, and chilli jam.

Leon: Chipotle avocado burger, lentil masala, the Love burger, Brazillian black bean, vegan billionaire

Subway: Meatless meatball marinara melt, vegan sub and salad

Pizza Hut: Vegan veggie, vegan magharita, vegan all about mushrooms, vegan hot n’ spicy veg, vegan pizza with Violife’s Vegan Ch**se

Papa John’s: Jackfruit pepperoni, American hot jackfruit, vegan sausage and pepperoni, the vegan works, vegan sheese (not a typo!) and tomato, vegan sheese garden party and vegan cheese hot pepper passion, as well as cauliflower wings, vegan sheese potato tots and cinnamon scrolls

Sandwich/coffee shops like Pret A Manger, Costa and Starbucks also have extensive vegan options and regularly change their range.

Vegan food on campus

More often than not, your university campus will offer veggie and vegan options. If you’re unsure, check with your university’s student centre, university website and students’ union.

If you’re thinking about living in catered student halls, we recommend checking your university’s catering menu first. For example, the University of London offers a vegetarian menu but only vegan meals on Monday and Thursday evening. But universities like the University of Manchester have introduced at least one vegan option each day on their student halls menu.

Vegan society or activist groups

One of the best ways to meet like-minded people is to join a campus society or local vegan activist group. They can introduce you to their favourite local restaurants or recipes and can help invigorate your passion for veganism. They may also routinely organise rallies or protests that you could let your sense of activism shine.


As a student, you might be on a tight budget and there are perceptions that veganism is expensive, so here are some tips on keeping your costs down.

  1. Buy staples such as rice, lentils, pasta, spices and grains in bulk as it often works out cheaper and will ensure you always have things you can easily cook.
  2. Buy supermarket-branded products as they are often cheaper.
  3. Hit the freezer section in the supermarket. A lot of supermarkets offer frozen meat alternatives like Iceland’s No Chicks Chunks and No Bull Mince or Tesco’s Quorn mince, which can be used to create your favourite meals. This works out a lot cheaper than buying ready prepared meals.
  4. Buy canned and frozen fruit and veg. You’ll save money, waste less and you won’t need to go to the supermarket as often.
  5. Shop at your local food markets where you can get some great deals and buy in bulk. Buying seasonal food and veg from a market is much cheaper than buying it from a supermarket. If you buy in bulk you can also freeze it.
  6. Meal prep is your new best friend – it’ll help you stay healthy and save money. Try making a big batch of vegan spaghetti bolognaise and freezing enough for a few meals.

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