We all know that eating more vegetables is a good thing. According to the USDA, diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as many vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. In fact, most of us could cut back on the proteins and fat in our diets, and eat far more vegetables and fruit than we currently do.
Although it may seem difficult to cut back on a fundamental protein staple like meat, it turns out that there are actually quite a few reasons why we should cut back on the amount of meat we consume and increase the vegetables and fruit. Read on for some big helpings of persuasion on filling your plate with more green.
1. The money thing
Meat is expensive--very expensive. In fact, ground beef--one of the cheapest forms of beef--averages almost $4 a pound, whereas a pound of beans or lentils costs less than $1. Even though it doesn't seem like much of a difference on an individual basis, for those who cook, those extra dollars (and pounds) ultimately add up.
2. The health thing
While it's true that lean meats, such as chicken or fish, have proven to be a good source of protein for our bodies, studies have shown time and again that red meat can do harm to our bodies. A study by the National Cancer Institute shows that of 500,000 people who ate the most red meat daily, 30% were more likely to die by any health-related cause than those who ate the least.
Making sure we incorporate enough protein in our meals is a valid argument for keeping meat around. Yet, how much protein do we even need in our day-to-day diet? As it turns out, the average adult needs only 50-175 grams of protein a day, based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet. This faction of our daily food intake can definitely be made up with meatless protein-rich foods, like legumes, which are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, and very low in fat.
3. The environment thing
Food waste, by way of animal feed, is a huge discussion in the farming industry, in addition to the enormous carbon footprint required to transport and process the meat, as well as package it for shipment to markets. In addition, meat wastes incredible amounts of water. A little known fact is 1,800 gallons of water is needed to make just one pound of beef.
So, try cutting meat out of one of your daily meals, and add an extra portion of fruit or veggies. Your wallet, body, and world will thank you.