During Lent, Catholics are supposed to abstain or give up meat on Fridays. However, not eating meat is something that everyone should do all year round for at least one day a week. Although you don’t need to become a vegetarian, consider becoming a ‘flexitarian’ which refers to someone who mostly eats plant-based foods and occasionally eats meat, poultry and fish. Since Americans consume nearly 4 times the amount of animal protein than the global average, we could stand to limit our meat intake. Limiting our meat intake can be really good because it can significantly benefit the environment as well as our health and our wallet.
So here are some ways that going meatless can be beneficial:
1. You can help cut down on greenhouse gases.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, livestock (especially their manure) contribute to about 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Meat tends to be more expensive, so by going meatless you can save at least $750!
3. You will keep your weight down.
On average, vegetarians have been found to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than meat-eaters. While vegans have the lowest percentage of people who were obese, meat-eaters had the highest percentage of people who were obese.
4. You will help reduce water pollution.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chemical and animal waste runoff from factory farms is the leading cause of impaired water quality.
5. You can help minimize water usage.
Although water is needed to produce vegetables and grains, the water needs of livestock are much greater with approximately 30% of our water footprint going towards meat consumption. Did you know that 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a single pound of beef?
6. You will ward off disease.
Research has consistently found that plant-based diets are linked with a lower risk of obesity, hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. As you decrease your meat eating, consider increasing whole plant foods in your diet. You can do this by ‘plantifying’ your favorite dishes by swapping some meat with plant-based ingredients that have better health benefits.
7. You could live longer.
In The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat, Dr. Michael Roizen says that by not eating meat you can add 13 years to your life!
Rather than ask yourself why go meatless, you should consider why haven’t you gone meatless already? Consider joining the Meatless Monday movement starting this next week!