Eating less meat comes with a range of benefits for both people and the planet. Opting for a meatless meal is good for physical health and maintaining an ideal weight. Cutting consumption can also easily save your family money on grocery bills. The positives don’t stop at the personal level either. Reducing the amount of meat you eat is better for the environment and supports the fight against climate change.
Since meat is a staple in many diets, cutting back might be a challenge. Educating yourself on the advantages allows you to make the right decision based on your lifestyle and budget. You might be considering going vegetarian or vegan or just exploring ways to reduce the amount of meat you consume. Whatever your plans are, here are four reasons you should consider eating less meat.
1. To Save Money on Your Grocery Bills
Inflation continues to drive up grocery bills, leaving families to figure out ways to cut down on rising costs. If you’ve visited your store’s meat section recently, you’ve likely noticed the cost of meat is up significantly from pre-pandemic levels. Swapping in healthy, low-cost plant-based protein options will help take some pressure off your wallet. Instead of pricey red meat or poultry, opt for nutritious beans, nuts, seeds, and healthy greens.
Record inflation levels aren’t the only factor causing meat prices to spike. Approximately 60% of the country’s cattle have been impacted by drought in 2022. Feed crop yields have suffered, and ranchers are being forced to haul water to their herds. These conditions are likely to cause a lasting impact on the industry, leading to continued higher prices at the store. Cutting down the meat in your diet protects you from paying more for groceries week after week.
2. To Lower Your Risk of Diseases
Your doctor has probably been telling you this for years. Eating too much red meat increases the risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Processed meats are loaded with saturated fats that could negatively affect your cholesterol levels and gut health. A high-fat diet also leads to inflammation, which may increase the chances of developing some diseases and cancers.
On the flip side, plant-based eating habits centered around fruits, vegetables, and grains are linked to improved health outcomes. Health experts suggest serving meatless dishes at least once or twice a week. Build meals centered around lentils, leafy veggies, whole grains, and beans. These protein-packed options are generally less expensive and all-around better for your health.
3. To Help Fight the Effects of Climate Change
Making changes to your eating habits is something everyone can do to help fight the climate crisis. Raising cattle for meat production comes with a huge carbon footprint, courtesy of overgrazing and the animals’ own methane emissions. Cutting down the meat in your diet could likewise decrease the number of animals, such as pigs and chickens, bred in factory farms. Not only are such farms large contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, they also keep animals in notoriously inhumane living conditions.
You don’t have to become a vegan to make an impact; just be mindful of the amount of meat you consume each week. If everyone in the U.S. reduced consumption by 25%, annual greenhouse emissions would drop 1%. Raising livestock takes up an enormous amount of water, land, and other precious resources. If there is a decrease in the demand for meat products, these valuable resources could be better utilized. The production of vegetables and fruits is much better for the environment and your overall well-being.
4. To Maintain a Healthy Weight and Lifestyle
A vegetarian or vegan lifestyle generally comes with fewer calories, which helps maintain a healthy weight. Thus a meat-free diet may reduce the risk of obesity and other negative health outcomes. Nutrition experts encourage eating whole foods, cutting back on processed foods, and choosing healthy options like fruits and vegetables. If you don’t want to eliminate meat from meals completely, try to cut back on how much you’re consuming overall.
It is still important to watch your overall calorie intake, especially if you’re trying to shed a few pounds. Try to avoid consuming too many refined carbohydrates, which often leave you feeling hungry and therefore more likely to overeat. Go for complex carb options instead, like sweet potatoes, beans, or oatmeal. These fiber-rich choices help balance blood sugar and leave you feeling fuller for longer.
A Healthier You and a Better Planet
The impacts of eating less meat can be felt across the board. Opting for more plant-based meals helps you maintain a healthy weight while reducing the risks of some diseases and cancers. Cutting back on beef and poultry will also make your next grocery run feel like less of a financial blow.
Choosing to reduce your meat consumption has a positive effect on the environment as well. Animal agriculture is responsible for huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and livestock living in deplorable conditions. Deciding to fill your plate with plant-based foods will help decrease the demand on valuable resources. Before your next meal, remember that your diet choices directly affect your well-being and that of the whole planet.