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Why are vegan meat substitutes so expensive?

Why are vegan substitutes so expensive? 6 reasons for price differences

Why are vegan meat substitutes so expensive? Chances are, this question crossed your mind when you recently walked past the refrigerated section of your favorite supermarket again. And it's absolutely justified. While a liter of cow's milk is available for €1.19, plant-based Alpro Oat milk 1,59€ - so 40 cents more. Also the yes! Beef burger patties cost €11.23 per kilogram - while you have to shell out €12.29 per kilogram for vegan counterparts in the same supermarket. So the impression that vegan substitutes are more expensive is no coincidence. But why is that?

In this article, I'd like to briefly present six reasons why plant-based meat substitutes - and vegan alternatives to animal-based foods in general - are often more expensive. In the process, you'll also learn directly why these price differences won't last too much longer. Let's go!

Here you can find a short overview in advance:

  1. The offer for plant-based substitute products is not yet so large
  2. Sales and production volumes of substitute products are still too small
  3. Animal food production is subsidized by the state
  4. Animals are bred, kept and slaughtered as cheaply as possible
  5. Suppliers of plant-based foods are increasingly focusing on healthier ingredients
  6. Animal foodstuffs are taxed at the moderate tax rate

Tip: Why the vegan diet basically not so expensive is, as many think, I have explained in another article. Only the vegan ready-made and substitute products are relatively expensive. And around the reasons for it it is to go here and today.

1. the offer for plant-based substitute products is not yet so large

Vegan substitutes are more expensive due to low supply

Meat substitute, Milk substitute and other vegan alternative products has not existed (in its current form) for very long.The range of products on offer must therefore first grow and prove itself on the market.

15 percent of food and beverage launches in Germany were labeled vegan between July 2017 and June 2018. Five years earlier, the figure was only around 4 percent.₁ But even though the range is growing steadily and rapidly, it is still much smaller overall than the range of animal products. Increases the supply vegan alternatives, however, continues at such a rapid pace (because demand remains high), the price will also become cheaper over time due to growing competition.

2. the sales and production volumes of substitute products are still too small

The Federal Statistical Office reported that in 2021, companies in Germany will have just under 17 percent more meat substitutes produced than in the previous year. Compared to 2019, production even increased by more than 62 percent.₂ This is mainly due to growing demand, which together with supply determines the price.

But the sales figures for vegan substitute products are still smaller than those for animal foods. And if you produce less, the entrepreneurial costs per product are simply somewhat higher. However, growing demand promises larger production numbers - and these in turn promise more favorable prices.

3. the production of animal foodstuffs is subsidized by the state

Animal food production is subsidized by the state

The intersection of supply and demand determines the market equilibrium - but the state still has various options for intervening in the market. For example, by setting the Factory farming through the Payment of subsidies artificially or economically "alive". Without this financial injection, farms would have to earn much more money, which could only be guaranteed through higher prices for meat, milk, eggs and other animal products.

You wonder why vegan cheese is so expensive or slightly more expensive than conventional cheese based on cow's milk? Ultimately, this is also due to the fact that the German state supports the animal industry with at least 13 billion euros annually promotes.₃ (as the data situation is non-transparent, the actual amount is probably much higher)

4. suppliers of plant-based foods are increasingly focusing on healthier ingredients

Why are vegan substitute products so expensive? Also because the ingredients are more often From organic farming originate and are grown somewhat more expensively. The reason for this, in turn, is primarily that vegan people are more environmentally and health-conscious consumers - and manufacturers and suppliers have adapted to this target group.

5. animals are bred, kept and slaughtered as cheaply as possible.

The animal industry only works on principle: as much as possible, as cheap as possible. At husbandry level 1, for example, 26 chickens share one square meter of space. A pig has about 0.75 square meters of space in its barn.₄ Being able to offer "cheap" prices is ultimately only possible at the (additional) expense of the animals.

Accordingly, more and more small farms are getting out of the livestock business - until at some point only the large agricultural corporations are left. The growing demands on animal welfare (e.g. more space for animals in stables), however, also lead to the expectation of inevitably higher prices for these companies - and ultimately, of course, for consumers.

6. animal foodstuffs are taxed at the moderate tax rate

Vegetable substitutes are subject to the general tax rate

Why are vegan foods so expensive? Mainly because the state has been charging products like soy milk and vegan burger patties with the General VAT rate of 19 percent taxed. The prices for meat and other products of animal origin, on the other hand, include only the reduced VAT rate of 7 percent.

More and more institutions and organizations (such as the Federal Environment Agency) are calling for an increase in taxes on meat, milk and eggs, as well as a reduced tax for plant-based, more environmentally and climate-friendly, animal-friendly and healthier foods.₅ In this way, we will vegan substitute products ultimately much cheaper - and probably cheaper over time than their animal counterparts.

Why vegan substitutes are so expensive? Because they are taxed more heavily and are not subsidized by the state

Not only do farms with livestock receive state subsidies - the state also taxes their products with 12 percent less VAT. How absurdwhen you actually want to initiate an agricultural and energy revolution, don't you? In addition, vegan alternative products are still quite new on the market and there is not (yet) too much competition in the sector.

We hold: Yes, plant-based substitutes are KEUR compared to many animal productswhich should make us think quite a bit, both in terms of animal welfare and meat quality. But whether vegan alternatives are also EXPENSIVE is another question. What is certain, however, is that meat is far too cheap - and that this situation cannot continue for much longer.

The price differences are already much smaller than 10 years ago - and will reverse in the next few years due to rising demand, increasing supply, lower or higher taxation, rising animal welfare demands and the elimination of subsidies for factory farming.

Oh, and one more thing that should not go under: by the way, you can also use live very well vegan without substitute products. I will explain how this works in a separate article.

I hope that with this article I could give you a detailed information about the reasons for relatively high prices of vegan substitute products. Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Then I look forward to your comment!

Be always kind to animals,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Through a vegan lifestyle you will ensure that the prices for meat substitutes, vegan cheese and plant-based milk alternatives will fall in the future. Still undecided? Go to why live veganI will now explain my personal motives for this.


₁ Means Reports Germany: Germany continues to dominate in vegan product launches (as of 30.06.2018), available at [21.06.2022].

₂ Federal Statistical Office: press release No. N 025; Meat substitutes still on trend: production rose by 17 % in 2021 compared with the previous year (May 09, 2022), available at [21.06.2022].

₃ Peter Carstens: Study - Germany promotes the animal industry with more than 13 billion euros annually (as of 05.03.2021), available at [21.06.2022].

₄ Ulrich Zillmann: What do the husbandry levels mean for meat? (as of 02.07.2021), available at [21.06.2022].

₅ Federal Environment Agency: For climate and environment: Higher tax on animal products, available at [21.06.2022].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!


Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

2 thoughts on “Warum sind vegane Ersatzprodukte so teuer? 6 Gründe für Preisunterschiede”

  1. In this article, the following sentence occurs: "Oh, and another thing that should not go down: by the way, you can also live vegan very well without substitute products. I'll explain how that works in a separate article."

    This separate article would have interested me as well, unfortunately it is linked incorrectly.
    The link refers to the article you are reading (
    which is not very useful.

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