The question should not be "Why are vegan and other healthy options so expensive?" but "Why is all the other food so cheap?" This is one of the few points I will be addressing in this article about the expenses surrounding a vegan lifestyle.
From my own personal experiences, my brother Alec became a vegetarian around Christmastime. Not too much time had passed when his vegetarianism became veganism; not only his but everyone's taste-buds were opened to the exposure of flavorful foods in our household.
But with that said, a vegan's diet is no walk in the park when it comes to finding local stores that have vegan-friendly products. For example, the local supermarkets that are available for Swanseans are Walmart, Stop 'n shop and Target. These markets don't carry the most impressive produce. The only well known vegan markets in the area are Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, which are located in Providence, Rhode Island and Boston.
Luckily, vegan products can be found at the local markets, but sadly, when it comes to purchasing these products, it's no picnic. Even at lower end markets like Walmart or Price Rite, the vegan options are just more expensive. Then when you try and shop completely organic, or at somewhere like Whole Foods (without special sales or promotions) your wallet will start to thin out.
West Soy-unsweetened milk cost $4.19 compare to Whole Milk which costs $3.15.
So-Delicious Ice cream costs $5.47 compared to Great Value which cost $2.97.
Go Veggie Cheese costs $5.30 compared to Kraft Parmesan Cheese which cost $3.90.
Mama Marry's Gourmet Pizza Crust costs $3.66 compared to Red Baron's completely topped pizza cost of $3.50.
Now the question seems to pop up, "why is vegan food so expensive?" Well the reason is vegan products tend to be made from fairly traded fruits and vegetables. And a lot of the time they are grown organically, which also raises their dollar value. And in general it takes more effort and work to create this selective product compared to other products that are manufactured a lot cheaper. Also sourcing and creating something like almond milk takes more time than it would be to source regular milk from a cow. There are many ways to eat vegan without committing to an entirely organic and GMO-free diet though, which is what really sky rockets the prices on groceries. Although we'd all like to think we can make the biggest leaps and bounds for our health -- sometimes the price tag on the goodies that hold this authenticity are much more costly. But you can eat vegan, and still purchase lower quality foods, it is just harder to find products that are made vegan friendly that are not created in this credible way. Since in general the words "organic," "fresh," "Fair Trade," and "Non-GMO" appeals to the majority of the consumers that regularly purchase these goods.
Unfortunately, many people actually avoid going vegan specifically for the price tag affiliated with the lifestyle. Which is sad to say, for those who are really committed to the lifestyle. Many people think veganism is some sort of mainstream pop cultural trend to try to be hipsteresqué. But it's not a trend; it's a way of life. Using common animal products may seem to have a concrete structure in a mundane lifestyle, but someday it'll crumble. Veganism is an extreme way of life, but the outcome saves many lives of land and sea animals from the cruelties of slaughter houses. To simply put it from the words of Gray Francione, "If you think it is difficult to be vegan, imagine how difficult it is for animals that you are not vegan."
I guarantee you there would be a major percentage of people choosing to be vegan, or at least eat vegan more often, if the prices dropped in the market supply. Hopefully veganism will be easier for newcomers in the future, hopefully someday there will be even more vegan food market supplies around every corner instead of the common McDonald's.