9 reasons to eat less meat

Jessica Penner, RDNutrition4 Comments

you are eating too much meat

Selfish Reasons

If you live in North American and you eat meat, you’re probably eating TOO much. As discussed in an earlier post, I’m not a vegetarian.  But since I’m a dietitian I feel obliged to tell non-vegetarians uplifting things such as

  1. The more red and processed meat you eat, the more likely you are to get colorectal and lung cancer 
  2. A vegetarian diet is associated with lower risks of chronic disease.  In a 1999 review non-vegetarians were twice as likely to suffer from diabetes or hypertension and were 88% more likely to develop colon cancer 
  3. Vegetarian diets are associated with a lower risk of obesity, constipation, lung cancer, and alcoholism 
  4. There is a link between vegetarianism and reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type two diabetes, and gallstones 
  5. The risk of developing a chronic degenerative disease can also be lowered by manipulation of an omnivorous diet 

Just listen to what the British Journal of Cancer said in 2011.  They know what they’re talking about and sum it up nicely:

The association between consumption of red and processed meat and the risk of cancer of the colon and rectum is now well established.British Journal of Cancer, 2011

So even if you’re an incredibly selfish person, future you would really like present you to start caring about how much meat you eat.  If you’re not completely selfish, there’s even more reason!  

Unselfish Reasons

       6.  Consuming meat takes an environmental toll  

The chart below shows the difference between what it takes to produce the food a vegetarian consumes, as opposed to a non-vegetarian.  My husband, who made this table for me, prefers the word omnivore, because it makes him sound like a type of dinosaur.

  Herbivore Omnivore
Water 1 2.9
Primary Energy 1 2.5
Fertilzer 1 13
Pesticides 1 1.4

Interestingly, the more beef you eat, the more pronounced these differences are. “From an environmental perspective, what a person chooses to eat makes a difference” (Marlow et al., 2009).

        7. Solidarity with the poor

If you have so many scruples you just can’t help but give them away, some people choose to be a vegetarian in order to stand in solidarity with those who are not able to access food on a consistent basis.  Meat is a luxury. Is it ethical to abuse our wealth with the overconsumption of meat?

Economic Reasons

Even if you aren’t a pinko commie hippy and are just worried about money and the economic health of your country, you can rest assured that being a vegetarian is also a good economic choice.  

        8. Lower health care costs

The positive health effects of eating less meat (points 1-5) can lower the money your government has to pay in health costs.  

       9.  Boosting the economy?

A vegetarian diet is also much cheaper, leaving more money for everyone to spend on other things, such as paying down the national debt or downloading Beyonce songs off of iTunes.  Please note that I am not an economist, but I do know for certain that a vegetarian diet will at least save you money on your grocery bill.

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