Being vegetarian or vegan is generally an altruistic decision based on compassion for animals, a desire to protect the environment or both. But it turns out that there’s a selfish reason to skip the meat, as well: research shows that a plant-based diet costs much less than a carnivorous one.
The Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition has found that eating a vegetarian diet is significantly less expensive than a meat-centric one. The research concluded that by eating a plant-based diet using olive oil as a healthy source of fat, one could save nearly $750 a year compared with the average cost of a 2,000-calorie diet that follows the federal MyPlate nutrition guidelines.
On a larger scale, according to The Atlantic, the United States could save $180 billion per year if the population followed the recommended meatless guidelines. Avoiding animal food products completely would result in a $250 billion savings per year. For perspective, the United States consumes more meat than China, or all of the EU countries combined.
The concept that buying “special” vegetarian food is costly is a myth. You don’t have to live on the packaged “meatless meats” and other products manufactured for vegetarians, or even visit a fancy Whole Foods instead of your everyday supermarket. Think you won’t get enough vegan protein on a budget? Think again. Between beans, tofu, nuts, and other vegan staples, you can create delicious and satisfying meals full of all the nutrients you need. What’s more, there are endless vegan recipes online for fantastic meatless meals made with common ingredients.
Eating healthy foods will save people even more money in the future by avoiding high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other types of maladies and the medications prescribed for them. Hopefully, a vegetarian diet paired with exercise will maintain optimum healthiness and will eliminate extra doctor visits and procedures. Also, there would be a gigantic decrease in chronic-disease-related deaths that could be prevented (at least 320,000 per year).
Beyond health, vegetarianism and veganism are simple ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, conserve the water and vegetation that farm animals consume, spare over 56 billion farmed animals miserable lives and death per year (and more than 3,000 animals die every second in slaughterhouses around the world), and give our bodies the best nutrition possible. Saving an estimated $750 per year while contributing to all these important accomplishments is the non-dairy icing on the vegan cake.