With an expected inflation in the cost of basic necessities, families across America are looking for ways to save money. Industry executives have been warning the public to expect huge inflation, especially in the price of meat products. It may be time to consider how eating less meat can increase savings for your family.
Plant Based Diets and Eating Less Meat Increase Savings
While only about 5% of Americans claim to be vegetarian, a Gallup poll revealed that approximately 23% are already eating less meat in their diet. There are a number of reasons why people choose to become vegetarian, but let’s focus specifically on the financial benefits. It’s no secret that meat-free products are less expensive than their counterparts. According to a study in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, you can save $750 a year by switching to a plant-based diet or meatless alternatives. You can maximize your budget even more by choosing seasonal vegetables and using dry goods such as beans or lentils. When planning meals for a family, eating less meat can increase savings in the long run.
Increasing Price of Meat
Customers in the United States can soon expect to pay more for meat at local grocery stores. Some experts are predicting a 20 percent increase in the price of beef and pork from 2019. This is largely because of recent meatpacking plant closures due to coronavirus outbreaks. Widespread factory shutdowns have halted meat production in the livestock supply chain. In addition, many agricultural states across the Midwest experienced devastating flooding last year that wiped out millions of heads of livestock. This has all contributed to the meat shortage industry executives have been warning the public about for weeks.
All of these industry setbacks have also put additional strain on both farmers and local grocery stores. Producers are cutting their losses by aborting pregnant livestock. National grocery stores such as Costco and Kroger have also implemented a purchase limit for meat products. Grocers were prepared to see their meat supplies shrink by 30 percent following the holiday weekend as well. Despite the president’s urging to reopen, it seems the meatpacking plants will remain closed until workers no longer fear for their safety.
Making the Choice to Eat Less Meat
Limiting the amount of animal protein in your diet is beneficial for your wallet, your health, and the environment. Reducing our consumption on a national scale also has important economic effects. Meat and dairy cost more because raising animals is much more resource intensive than other sources of proteins. Beef and lamb are the most resource intensive meat sources. Pork and poultry have a mid-range environmental impact while seafood is relatively climate-friendly. Bivalves such as oysters, scallops, clams and mussels are the most sustainable animal proteins.
However, adopting an all-or-nothing approach to eating less meat could be setting yourself up for failure. If you are like me, denying yourself something makes you want it even more. That is why I started simple by tweaking my diet. While I still consume meat, I try to eat vegetarian at least once a week. I also reduce the amount of meat I use when I am cooking, choosing to add more vegetables and grains to the meal. The meat is now a source of flavor rather than my daily caloric intake. In addition to costing me less money, it has also helped my lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Choosing a less meat-dependent diet does not need to be about deprivation; it can be a delicious way to experiment with new ingredients while reducing your carbon footprint.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.