Benefits of Cutting out Meat a Few Times per Week
The idea of cutting out meat may be a daunting one for many people, but it could have a lot of positive benefits on your health and the health of the environment. The good news is, you don’t have to become a full-on vegan or vegetarian to reap the benefits of less meat, simply choosing to eat a few meat-free meals per week can do a lot for your health.
Many studies have found that eating meat is directly linked to obesity and a higher body-mass index.1 By cutting out meat you can maintain a slim figure, drastically cut the risk of heart disease (which is one of the leading causes of death in the US), and even save money.
If protein intake is one of your concerns, there are many great plant sources of protein that can be added to a meat-free meal. Beans and peas make a great protein substitution and can be added to dishes such as soups and salads. Low-fat dairy products also have a good level of protein, so adding servings of low-fat yogurt or milk will help ensure you are getting the protein you need. Most Americans are getting more protein than they need per day, and cutting out meat a few times per week will not cause you to become protein deficient.
Another great argument for eating less meat is that you are helping the environment. Raising livestock is one of the greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally and is one of the main reasons for deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which is being destroyed at staggering levels to make room to graze animals and grow their feed grains.
For the first time, in 2015 the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee looked at not only the health implications of a diet high in animal products but also at the environmental implications while making their revised dietary guidelines. This shows that more and more people are becoming concerned about the negative impacts the industrial farming industry is having on the health of our environment.
Producing one pound of beef uses 1,847 gallons of water, while a pound of broccoli only uses about 34 gallons to produce.2 So switching a few meals per week to vegetarian will save thousands of gallons of water per year.
An increasingly popular diet trend, flexitarian, is based on the idea of eating a mostly vegetarian diet but not cutting meat out completely. Being a flexitarian is about making a conscious choice to eat less meat without putting harsh limitations on yourself such as with a vegan or vegetarian diet. While some vegetarians and vegans see the flexitarian approach as a sort of cop out or a way to not fully commit to making dietary changes, it is a great way to cut down on the health and environmental implications of eating meat without having to go all in.
It’s important to remember that if completely cutting meat out of your diet is not practical for you, cutting it out a few times per week can have significant benefits for your health and the health of our environment. Adopting a flexitarian diet is a great compromise to make when full-on veganism or vegetarianism won’t work for your lifestyle.
Try some of our favorite meat-free recipes for a few meals this week:
1. Wang, Y and Beydoun, MA. “Meat consumption is associated with obesity and central obesity among US adults.” US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine, 24 March 2009. Web.
2. Boehrer, Katherine. “This is How Much Water it Takes to Make your Favorite Foods.” HuffPost Green. The Huffington Post, 13 October 2014. Web.