Eating Vegan in Tampere on a Student Budget

Have you ever wondered how it feels to cut animal products from your diet? If you have already thought about being vegan, Finland might help you give the final push for it. If you are a vegan already and wondering how you could keep up with it in Finland, I will tell you it is possible to be vegan on a student budget.

My name is Raysa França and I am a degree student from Brazil. I’m studying in the Leadership for Change master’s degree programme at Tampere University. I have been living in Finland and Tampere for more than a year, and now I will share some tips on how to have a vegan diet on a student budget, as well as why I’m vegan in the first place.

Why being vegan, or why cooking more vegan food?

  • For the environment: being from Brazil, I care a lot about the Amazon, and the number one cause of deforestation over there is due to expansion of cattle and soy to cattle food. Also, meat is very intensive from the water consumption point of view, and many more. Learn more about this: 9 reasons why veganism can save the world.
  • For animals: in my case, being vegan for the animals was the number one cause! I was really uncomfortable witnessing slaughters, and I had a deep connection to many animals – so why eat their bodies? Regarding the ethical motives, you can learn more here: Non-Human Animals: Crash Course Philosophy #42

Now, let’s go to the actual tips, shall we?

Tip 01: Eat according to the season

Being from a tropical country, I never wondered if the vegetables I bought in my home country were from a specific season, since there is not much of a price difference. But in Finland, the prices vary a lot in winter or summer time!

Baked vegan pulla (cinnamon rolls).

When I arrived, my mistake was to buy whatever vegetables I wanted during winter without checking the prices carefully, only to notice how hard it was to keep my finances stable. I recommend you to focus on local veggies, such as cabbage, carrots, and potatoes during winter. Besides that, the student meals of restaurants offer a good supply of vegetables in your meal at a fair price, so use them!

There are some calendars of seasonal vegetables that you can use to guide your meal planning.

Spinach and smoked tofu pie!

Tip 02: Compare prices

When I arrived in Finland, especially in the first months, I bought a lot of food in the K-Market and S-market chains, until I found out about Lidl! It is considerably cheaper, and the good news is the catalogue for vegan-friendly groceries is expanding.

There are vegetable milks, normal and smoked tofu, and many organic options with very affordable and accessible prices. You can also get cheap rye bread (which is already cheap in Finland, but even cheaper in Lidl), and there are a lot of sales and promotions going on there. Nevertheless, never forget to check the -30% and -60% discounts at the K and S chains.

Tip 03: Meal planning

I know this will sound like a boring activity, but meal planning saves you a lot of stress, time, energy and money! Every week, I try to think about a set of meals.

This is what my plan looks like normally:

7 meals a week

  • 2 or 3 are quick and easy to cook, such as pasta, rice, couscous, etc.
  • 2 are elaborate and special, usually done during the weekend
  • 2 or 3 are in the middle, not super quick, but also not elaborate, such as soups and salads

Example of last week:

  • Lentil and carrot curry
  • “Fish soup” (traditional lohikeitto, which is made usually with salmon, but here we use smoked tofu)
  • Polenta with lentil bolognese (a Brazilian very delicious dish!)
  • Chilli (made with three different beans and cocoa powder!)
  • Lentil and peanut butter soup (check the recipe!)
  • My friend’s invention – olive oil, zucchinis, eggplant, smoked tofu, flour, nuts and nutritional yeast
  • Fubá soup (a Brazilian dish, the basis of the soup is corn flour, and you add vegetables and spices)
Delicious lasagna.

I always think about different sets of proteins that can be mixed with these meals, for example, lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, soy protein, and so on to have a nice balance of nutrients. I also usually try to cook with fresh vegetables in every meal to guarantee a satisfying and nutritious meal.

My boyfriend and I eat quite an international set of meals. Both Finnish and Brazilian, but also with influences of Vietnam, Italian, Chinese and Arabian.

Rice, beans, okra and a vegan patty – the Brazilian national dish!

Now, during remote teaching, I cook enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch, but you can plan yourself to cook only dinners if you have your lunch meals at the student restaurants. If it is winter, I usually eat a lot of soup too! They are an easy way to have delicious meals on a budget. If it is summer, bring me some salad!

Why is meal planning important?

  • Buying food is more effective when you plan ahead what to eat! You reduce the trips to the grocery stores, and you can easily adapt your plan to whatever is cheaper.
  • You avoid eating out or ordering food out due to immediate despair and hunger, it becomes more of a choice than a consequence of lack of planning.
  • You reduce food waste!
  • Healthier meals

Here are some ideas for recipes of vegan food:

A special dinner, salad, pasta with fresh tomatoes and vegan patty!

4. General tips for saving money with groceries

I created a group with myself and my boyfriend on Telegram by which I take pictures of the prices of products in different supermarkets and stores around where I live. So when I need to buy something, I just search for the price in these groups. It’s that easy and helps me save a lot of money. Also, it is always good to keep tuned on discounts. There are great deals going on in many supermarkets with food on sale.


If you want to know more about veganism, cooking your own food, or even sustainability in Finland, or if you have any questions about the culture in Finland, life in Tampere and Tampere University, you can always ask me or another student at the Unibuddy platform!

Free of charge!

– Raysa

About the author: Hello there! My name is Raysa and the most important piece of information you should know about me is that I am a friendly and easy-going person, so don’t be shy to be in touch with me to ask any questions you might have. I’m from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and I have been living in Finland for a year now. Before that, I was an exchange student at the University of Jyväskylä. I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). I participate in many projects focused on feminism, social impact, student advocacy, and sustainability. In Brazil, I have worked in a museum, at the university, in a business school, and in a startup, always performing tasks related to sustainability. In my free time in Tampere, I like to explore vegan cuisine and I like to hang out with friends over beer and board games.

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