Author: Nate from Vegetatio
5 Compelling Reasons For You to Reduce Your Meat Consumption
People choose to give up meat (and other animal products) for many reasons. For some, it is a seamless transition, but that is not always the case. Although you need to be aware of your body's needs, it's 100% possible to get the nutrients that you need with a plant-based diet. In fact, as many as 16 million Americans have removed meat from their diets.
One of the main reasons people convert to a plant-based diet is due to health concerns. One common misconception is that vegetarians and vegans don't get enough protein. There are actually tons of different foods are a meatless source of protein: milk, eggs, soy, nuts, beans, and many other products offer enough protein to sustain oneself. Most people actually eat more protein than is necessary, but eat less fiber than necessary. Less than 3% of Americans get the recommended amount of fiber, which is found in vegetables. Eating a plant-based diet can seriously improve your fiber intake, which has plenty of health benefits itself.
It has been shown that vegetarians may be less likely to die of heart disease or become diabetic. They may be less likely to develop some forms of cancer as well. The World Health Organization has classified processed meat as a carcinogen, and also claims that red meat is a probable carcinogen. In addition, removing meat from the equation means reducing your risk of acquiring food-borne illness due to undercooked meats or poultry.
It is not uncommon to come across videos of what happens to the animals that we consume for meals, such as this 60-second video by PETA with only mild gore. It is easy for us to not consider how the food gets to the plate due to societal norms and laws that restrict access to factory farms. Factory farming causes significant stress and harm to animals in order to keep up with demand. Meat is not the only issue here - consuming eggs and dairy puts cows and chickens into extremely unethical and unclean conditions. Rolling Stone has a detailed article that covers these practices, but it's a bit hard to stomach, so read at your own risk. Even the production eggs that are labeled "cage free," "free range," or "certified organic" still subject chickens to extremely harsh practices.
For a lot of people, ignorance is much easier to live with on this topic. Meat is everywhere and it is easy to access, with fast food almost exclusively catering to meat eaters (unless you're Taco Bell). Eating meat in the U.S. has become normalized to the point that people think that it is necessary. However, many restaurants are starting to offer meatless options like veggie and black bean burgers, which suggests a change is occurring.
Climate change is real and happening, humans are causing it, and virtually all climate scientists agree. Many people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by installing solar panels, cutting electricity usage, buying electric cars, or by using bikes and their feet instead of cars. While all of these contribute to positive change, the World Bank claims that 50% of all carbon emissions are from livestock farming. In fact, giving up red meat alone will reduce a person's carbon footprint more than if they stopped driving.
If you are someone that likes living on the Earth, you would most definitely benefit from cutting meat out of your diet.
One common misconception is that in order to help this issue, you need to commit entirely and cut out 100% of meat. While that is the preferred option, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions occurs as you consume less and less meat. The Meatless Monday campaign is a very successful one that follows the line of thinking that this does not need to be an all-or-nothing initiative.
Having a few extra dollars in your wallet is always a positive. Meat can be extremely expensive, especially when considering steaks and rare fish. Some studies suggest that vegetarians can save as much as $750 per year on food. $750 can go a long way - a couple months rent, a road trip with friends, or a brand new TV. Here is a PETA guide to eating cheap for vegetarians. Some staples of budget shopping include rice, beans, and vegetables. With the right spices, these three things can make all kinds of dishes, from southwestern chili to Asian stir fry to Mexican burritos, and they'll be tasty too.
The above figure of $750 doesn't even account for the savings made in healthcare and emissions costs. There could be as much as $2 trillion dollars to save from removing meat consumption in the U.S. alone. For this to happen, great changes would have to take place in our culture.
Many non-American cuisines do not rely on meat so heavily for their dishes. Indian food is renowned for its awesome vegetarian options. Mexican food uses meats, but can often have them replaced with beans while maintaining the integrity of the meal. If you're still feeling the crave of meat, there are some products that can help satisfy it. Brands like Tofurkey, Lightlife, Morningstar, Gardein, and Beyond Meat create products that mimic meats like ground beef, Italian sausage, burgers, and chick'n nuggets. Usually these products are made of soy, but retain many similarities to the meat products they resemble.
Try out some of our meat imitation recipes:
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