A little over 5 percent of the world’s population follows a vegetarian diet, and about a million of them follow a vegan diet as well. People follow these diets for a number of reasons, whether they’re related to personal health, animal ethics or environmentalism. While it’s understandably not a diet that accommodates everyone, simply cutting back on meat consumption has a plethora of well-rounded benefits that every collegiette should take into consideration.
It’s better for the planet.
With Earth Day around the corner, everyone is looking for little ways to help take care of the environment. It’s well established that industrial-scale meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gases and mankind’s impact on the planet. Farm animals produce significant portions of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions caused by humans, and over half of America’s crops feed livestock instead of people. (Theoretically, if everyone in the U.S. were to go vegetarian, we still wouldn’t need as much cropland to fill the deficit in food production.) A study found that the amount of meat a typical family consumes is more to blame for global warming than the car they drive.
There are countless health benefits.
Summer is quickly approaching, which means people everywhere are getting back into their healthy habits to make sure they’re feeling their best for the summer months. If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your health, cutting back on meat is an easy one. Eating less meat can lead to lower risk in certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. However, make sure you’re getting your protein from other sources, such as beans and lentils, or even vegetables such as broccoli and avocados.
Grocery shopping is less expensive.
That’s right. Every thought you had about a vegetarian diet being expensive is wrong! I think a lot of those ideas come from the fact that plant-based “fake meat” can sometimes be pricey, but you don’t need soy burgers or tofu “chicken” to make a delicious meat-free meal. When you add up all the basics of a typical vegan diet compared to what you might find in a typical meat-eater’s diet, veganism is actually cheaper.
It discourages factory farming.
When compared to the average across the globe, Americans eat over three times more meat than the rest of the world, and it’s not without the cost of the cruelty behind factory farming. The ethics behind whether or not humans have a moral obligation to abstain from meat because we can live without it remains a constant debate; however, there isn’t much to argue with when it comes to animal welfare for industrial farming. Hunting and small-scale farming tend to be more sustainable methods of obtaining meat.
It allows you to expand your palate with new recipes.
While many Americans are accustomed to making meat a central part of almost every meal, cutting back on meat might call for some innovation in your diet. The internet is flooded with vegetarian and vegan blogs, chefs and food enthusiasts to get you started and give you some ideas. One of my favorite sources for recipes is The Cheap Lazy Vegan from YouTube, and she has an e-cookbook filled with tons of delicious meals and snacks that are perfect for busy college students on a budget. Need more inspiration? Here are some other inexpensive and healthy recipes to try!
This doesn’t all mean we need to take meat out of our diet completely, but simply cutting back can have a huge impact!