For about 5 months earlier this year, I made a decision to switch to an all-vegetarian diet. There were about five or six reasons for my decision, with health and well-being at the top of the list.
In order to connect with today’s post, you need to have some degree of agreement that avoiding meat is good for your health. In addition to the anecdotal evidence I hear from others and my own experience with a vegetarian diet, there are some well-researched studies that support this view.
In any case, I wanted to explore an idea that has popped up more and more in recent years, perhaps because of the economic climate we’re in – that a vegetarian diet can actually save you money!
Here is a list of five ways that vegetarianism (and a good diet, in general) really can save you money, starting with the most obvious:
1. Lower “protein” costs - Traditionally speaking, this is the tried-and-true argument for cost savings that every vegetarian uses. The argument is that meat is one of the most expensive ingredients you can use, pound for pound. By eliminating it from your diet and replacing it with lower-cost ingredients, the theory goes that we save money. Think about it…rice, vegetables, fruits, beans…none of this stuff is terribly expensive. Meat? $4.99/lb. for a crappy cut, $10 and up if you want the good stuff.
There are also some less thought about monetary benefits to vegetarianism, such as:
2. Lower health care costs – Having better health translates into lower costs of health care (makes sense, right?). If you agree that a vegetarian diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid all sorts of fun diseases, it makes sense that you’re not going to spend as much on going to the doctor (or the hospital). Same goes for preventative care, but that’s a whole other discussion.
3. Lower health maintenance costs – While doctor’s visits are a direct cost that’s easily conceptualized and measured, consider some of the costs and efforts we go through to simply maintain health. Vegetarians are known to eat, on average, about 500 calories less than our meat-eating companions. That translates roughly to about 45 minutes of vigorous exercise. Wouldn’t you rather cancel your gym membership, take your family for a walk, and not worry about how you’re going to burn off lunch?
4. Higher energy level – An increased sense of energy experienced by many vegetarians can lead to increased productivity and accomplishments. Higher performance at work leads to better pay, more energy at home leads to better relationships and less stress. You get the better end of the stick in all respects, and it affects every other area of your life.
5. Life insurance, anyone? I don’t know about you, but when I last looked into life insurance options, I was bombarded with a series of questions about weight, health, habits, and told I’d need to see a doctor for a check-up. I’m pretty sure that a more stable weight and better “numbers” – cholesterol and all that good stuff, will help me get a better premium. And that’s hard money saved.
I’m not here to convince you. Vegetarianism is an intensely personal choice that’s not easy to make (or to maintain!). But at least get your (expletive deleted) together and start eating right. You might reap the benefits of many of these five items anyway.