Sure, sure, we know eating lots of veggies and fruit is important for good health. But let’s be honest here; living in the good old U.S.A, eating meat is the primary way that we dine, and the majority of people are raised that way.
Perhaps you remember the old commercials…“Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.” Hamburgers and hot dogs are our favorite summer foods, and red meat is our primary preferred way to dine, right?! Not necessarily.
Vegetarianism is growing particularly among non-whites, and there may be some good reasons for everyone to at least consider it. One of them is that becoming a vegetarian can actually save you money!
How Many Vegetarians are in the U.S.?
The number of Americans who are vegetarians is not especially large, particularly among older whites.
According to a Gallup Poll from 2018, non-white Americans (9%) are three times as likely as white Americans (3%) to describe themselves as vegetarian. And younger Americans are more likely than older ones to follow a plant-based diet.
People Make the Vegetarian Switch for Different Reasons
There are lots of reasons to try eating a vegetarian diet. Some people just don’t want to harm animals, while others simply want to live a healthier lifestyle. For some, it’s a cultural tradition; for others, a taste preference. Some feel that eating this way puts less strain on the environment.
But when we consider how hard the past couple of years have been financially and the ridiculous rise in the cost of food (particularly meat prices), there now appears to be another good reason to switch: saving money.
Is it More Expensive to Eat a Vegetarian Diet?
Becoming a vegetarian is often thought to be an expensive lifestyle choice, but that is a common misconception. Not only are vegetarians often healthier, but their wallets are healthier and happier too. That sounds pretty good about now, doesn’t it?
The simple answer is that vegetarians save money because they simply don’t eat meat, the most expensive component of the American diet.
What is a Vegetarian Anyway?
Many often confuse the terms vegetarian and vegan. While neither of them eats meat, vegans do not consume any animal products whatsoever – no eggs, no dairy, no fish oils. Vegans also refrain from eating things like honey, gelatin, collagen, and even white sugar, as well as using animal products in other parts of their lives, such as wearing leather.
The term ‘vegetarian’ is officially defined as someone who does not eat meat but may be flexible in terms of eating eggs, milk, cheese, and other products that may be derived from animals. There are actually eight different kinds of vegetarians that vary in their eating habits.
The bottom line is that there is room to customize your choices here.
The Cost of Eating Meat
The price of beef, pork, and chicken are at all-time highs. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 11.9%, with the index for beef rising 20.1% and the index for pork rising 14.1%, its largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1990.
The average American consumes a lot of meat, around 144 pounds each year. Can you just imagine saving more than 10% each time you shop for groceries just by cutting back on or eliminating meat? It is easy to see that cutting back on or eliminating meats from your diet will greatly impact your food budget.
Fear of Change
The thing that most people fear about becoming a vegetarian (in any form) is that they won’t get enough sustenance on such a diet. But that isn’t true.
A common grocery list for a vegetarian consists of things like beans, rice, nuts, oats, and an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. But you don’t always have to spend tons of money on the most expensive produce items.
Most importantly, fresh fruits and veggies vary in price from week to week, so smart shopping can reduce costs even further. But the best part is that they are full of essential nutrients that you need.
If you’re still reluctant to make the switch, try incorporating more plant-based dishes into your diet while still eating meat for some meals. You may be surprised at how easy it is.
The Best Ways to Save
The best way to save money on a vegetarian diet is to buy produce when it is in season. ‘In season’ means abundance and abundance drives prices lower.
Another way to save money is to avoid food waste by eating or freezing all of the food you buy at the grocery store.
Americans, in particular, waste tons and tons of fresh food, so buy only what you need and use it up. An easy way to do this is to meal prep in advance for the week.
Another option is to get a CSA farm share (community-supported agriculture). You purchase a share from a farmer and receive a box of seasonal produce each week during the farming season.
Planning and executing a vegetarian diet will cut your food bill, improve your health, and help you combat inflation.
Consider how you can control your food costs better by making a huge life change.
Assuming a couple consumes a pound of meat combined per meal and eats meat just five days a week and makes the switch to the same amount of beans or some other low-cost vegetable, grain, or legume as a substitute, they could potentially save several thousand dollars a year.
Just making that switch away from meat to a vegetarian meal plan just three or four times a week would save you money, perhaps $1,500 or more a year. And even better, you can be a “cheap” vegetarian. Buy on sale and implement other tips to save money on groceries.
Making this change when you live with others is a big decision, so it’s something you need to talk about before any changes are made. It can be difficult – even impossible – when one person wants to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, and the other prefers a meat diet.
If you’re in a financial pinch, saving money alone may be a strong enough reason to switch. When you add in all of the other benefits, there doesn’t seem to be many negatives!
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.