How eating less meat could save you more money
You may be surprised by who’s going meatless
By Paul Shapiro, MarketWatch
Apr 19, 2017
[Note: Not in or near the MarketWatch article is this fact: the author is Vice President of Policy at HSUS]
Many of us must save up to be able to take a holiday. We deprive ourselves in the short term, thinking about all the fun ways we’ll be able to spend that hard-earned cash in the future. Yet there’s one kind of holiday that can help break up the monotony of daily life while also saving us money. Taking occasional holidays from meat will actually save us money.
Many Americans across the country are already doing just that. We Americans now eat about 10% less meat per capita than we did in 2007. It seems that dietary concepts like the three R’s (“reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products while “refining” our diets) may finally be here to stay.
Some of this reduction may come from following popular movements like Meatless Mondays or Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6 program. But, of course, there are many reasons why so many of us are taking breaks from a meat-heavy diet. Wanting to look and feel better, to protect animals, and to help save the planet are just a few motives people commonly offer. But an additional benefit of keeping animals off our plates more often is that it helps us keep more money in our wallets.
Meat, eggs, and dairy are costly and they’re getting even more expensive. It’s no secret that vegetarian foods are far less resource-intensive than the breeding and slaughtering of animals. That’s one reason that—even with distorting federal handouts to the meat industry—meat-free options are often so much more affordable. For example, it’s always cheaper to opt for Chipotle’s bean and rice burritos—or its new chili-rubbed tofu sofritas—than the chain’s meat options. Burger King’s veggie burger will leave more bling in your bank account than a Whopper. And every single vegetarian entrée at P.F. Chang’s is cheaper than every meat-based entrée the popular restaurant offers.
Of course, while saving money is a compelling reason to eat a little bit lower on the food chain, the more affordable options are also generally the ones that are better for us as well as the planet. Prestigious public health organizations agree. As the American Institute for Cancer Research noted recently, “The research shows one thing very clearly: we all need to eat more plants and less meat.”
Now that Americans are starting to take occasional holidays from meat, even factory farm interests are beginning to pay attention. You know our diets are shifting for the better when companies like Walmart start encouraging a reduction in meat consumption, and local Dollar Tree stores sell Hampton Creek’s egg-free, plant-based mayo—a product that once might have been consigned solely to health-food stores. In fact, if you don’t happen to read industry magazine Meat + Poultry, you may have missed its recent editorial asking meat producers, “why doesn’t the industry make meat analogs?” The writer notes that “meat analogs are evolving and tasting better than ever” and quotes a meat scientist talking about companies like Tofurky, counseling, “Don’t fight them, join them.”
Indeed, that’s already what’s happening. Food giant Kraft may own Oscar Mayer, but it also owns Boca Burgers. Kellogg’s owns MorningStar Farms. Meat-centric diner chains like Johnny Rockets and Friendly’s are now offering vegan burgers. Even Burger King—the king of burgers—is promoting Meatless Mondays.
The world is indeed shifting, and for the better. Pork giant Hormel HRL recently bought another type of plant protein product: Skippy peanut butter. One benefit of this acquisition — according to another meat industry trade publication, Meatingplace — is that “activists are not using hidden cameras to scope out peanut abuse by Hormel’s suppliers.” Certainly not.
So many Americans are cutting down on meat consumption in fact that Nasdaq published a post looking at how “the death of meat” could impact your stock portfolio. The article concluded that investors should “think twice about holding long positions in meat industry stocks or exchange-traded securities” because “meat consumption has been steadily declining, which could play out into a huge profit potential.”
It’s always a good time to start new positive habits. But with meat prices projected to keep rising, there’s never been a better time to start...
Excerpted from “The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and The Planet”, edited by Brian Kateman, essay by Paul Shapiro. Reducetarian Foundation Inc. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.