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Friday, December 2, 2011

Vegetarian diets save on grocery, energy and medical bills.

A good way to save money at the grocery store is to replace meat products with fruits and vegetables. Eliminating meat reduces the average grocery bill by about a third.  For the cost of a single steak, one could have a vegetarian feast for a family of four.

Comparing the cost of animal protein to vegetable protein, the savings are significant.  In the U.S., relatively inexpensive beef, such as ground round, averages approximately $3 per pound, boneless chicken breasts cost $3.40 a pound, and canned tuna is about $2 per pound.  Vegetarian protein such as dried beans and lentils costs less than $1 per pound, and rice, the vegetarian staple, can be found for sixty to seventy cents per pound.

Consumers would also be surprised to know how much of their monthly electric bill and/or gas bill is used to refrigerate and cook meat.  Meat has to be cooked in order to be safe and palatable. Fruits and vegetables for the most part can be eaten raw, but when they are used in baked recipes, they take a fraction of cooking time compared to meat. 

In many homes, refrigerators are the greatest user of electricity. The average family could use a substantially smaller regrigerator/freezer if they did not need it for meat products.  Over 80% of the space in a typical refrigerator is used for meat and dairy products. Although some fruits and vegetables have a longer shelf life when refrigerated, many veggies/fruits will keep for several days, if not weeks, without refrigeration. On the other hand, it is mandatory to refrigerate or freeze meat and dairy from the time it comes home from the market until it is cooked—a large drain on the monthly electric bills.  If there happens to be a power outage for more than a day, all the meat and dairy products in the refrigerator and/or freezer will probably spoil—at a potential cost of several hundred dollars.

The major cost savings of a vegetarian diet, however, is in the long term health benefits. Switching to a healthy vegetarian diet will potentially save you thousands of dollars in future medical costs to include prescriptions, medical treatment, insurance and loss of income. 

Lastly, tax dollars in the U.S. are being diverted to support the meat industry. Although you can get a fast food hamburger for only a dollar, tax payer dollars contribute billions to the meat and dairy industries annually.  Tax money that comes out of your paycheck is used to support the meat/dairy industries by subsidizing feed grain, water, insurance, grazing land, and environmental clean-up for the benefit of a handful of corporations that control the nation's meat supply. 
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