The average American family spends a little over 10 percent of its income on food. The largest chunk of that money—about one-fifth—goes to purchasing meat. And it’s getting worse; beef prices have jumped 25 percent in the past year alone while the cost of pork and chicken is also rising steadily.
Studies have shown that eating vegetarian several times a week can save as much as $1,000 a year. And eating a diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans lowers your risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
A single person or a couple can make the switch easy enough; swap meat protein for beans, lentils, grains, and seeds. However, when an entire family is involved, eating less meat can lead to grumbles, or worse, temper tantrums. But if meatless meals are subtly slipped in a few times a week your family might never notice the change.
- Go Italian: Pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, and other pasta dishes don’t need meat to be tasty. Parmesan cheese is a complete protein; it contains all the amino acids found in meat, poultry, and fish. Buy a block of parm and shred it generously over pasta and pizza and even the pickiest eaters won’t complain.
- Sloooow Cooking: Crock pots are inexpensive,super convenient and you don’t need to soak beans overnight to cook them. Just boil the beans for ten minutes before chucking them in the crock pot with a can of diced tomatoes and chopped celery, carrots, onions, and garlic. You can also use canned beans. Just plug in the crock pot in the morning and you’ll have a nourishing dinner waiting when you come home at night.
- Travel the World: People in Thailand, Vietnam, and India have been eating meatless meals for centuries. The Internet is also filled with recipes for tasty and unique curries, stir fries, rice and noodle dishes, and more.
- Meatless Mondays: In 2003, the Meatless Monday program was launched with the goal of convincing people to give up meat one day a week. Today, 18 percent of American households are participating in Meatless Monday. If you can’t convince your kids that eating less meat saves money, maybe they’ll do it for good old Mother Earth. Cutting meat one day per week minimizes water use, reduces dependence on fossil fuels, and reduces your carbon footprint.