You don’t need to become a full-time vegetarian to enjoy the benefits of eating less meat. In fact, there’s a name for people who go heavy on the plants and light on the meat: flexitarian. Even if you prefer to eat meat every chance you get, consider these eight reasons for cutting back, even just a little. Don’t worry, I have a whole list of delicious and nutritious options to fill in any gaps. But first, why cutting back on meat is a good idea:
- You’ll eat fewer calories. People who eat little to no meat tend to fill up on fruits and vegetables, leading to a slimmer waistline and longer-lasting ideal weight.
- You’ll reduce your risk of cancer. Consuming high amounts of red and processed meats has been linked to increased risk of colon and stomach cancers.
- You’ll lower your risk of heart disease. The fat and cholesterol in meat can lead to clogged arteries, which leads to heart problems, including heart failure. Studies have shown that switching to a plant-based diet can even reverse the progression of heart disease.
- You’ll eat a more healthy variety of food. When you cut back on meat in your everyday diet, you’ll have to come up with other ways to fill in the gaps. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy all the foods you’ve been missing out on!
- You’ll save money. Meat is expensive, especially high-quality meats. Limiting your intake could have quite the impact on your grocery budget.
- The production of meat has a considerable impact on the planet’s resources. The livestock industry creates greenhouse gases and takes up 30 percent of the earth’s usable land according to a United Nations report.
- Family farms have given way to factory farms. Factory farming is under fire because thousands of animals are confined into small facilities, poor conditions lead to disease, and consumers who eat these products can be exposed to serious health effects.
- Along with the issue of factory farming, come the ethical reasons you may want to cut back on eating meat (or give up meat altogether). People are taking a closer look at where their food is coming from and how animals in the meat industry are treated.
If I’ve convinced you to at least consider instituting something like “Meatless Mondays,” here is the promised list of protein-dense foods that will leave you wondering why you waited so long to cut back on meat.
Beans: They’re not only protein-packed, but beans also digest slowly, keeping you fuller longer.
Hemp Seeds: Sprinkle some of this rising nutritional rock star on your salad or in your cereal for some heart disease-fighting fiber and omega-3’s. And, you’ll get some protein, too!
Pumpkin Seeds: These delicious seeds aren’t just for post-pumpkin carving. Enjoy nine grams of protein per ounce.
Almonds: Besides being an excellent source of protein, almonds are the perfect addition to your weight loss routine. They are packed with amino acid L-arginine, which can help you burn more fat and carbs during your workout!
Cashews: Be careful of your portion size, but add these to your regular snacking for some delicious protein, magnesium, and biotin.
Quinoa: You don’t have to know how to pronounce it to enjoy this ancient grain that is packed full of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats (which are great for your heart!)
Ezekiel Bread: Enjoy a sandwich guilt-free with this healthy bread made with sprouted grains.
Eggs: There’s so much protein in one little, very versatile egg.
Hummus: Hummus that contains both lysine and tahini is a great go-to snack and is just the thing to use in place of mayonnaise or other spreads on your ezekiel bread sandwich.
Spinach: Super low in calories while loaded with protein, spinach in all its versatility is truly a super food.
Guava: You may not be all that familiar with guava, but it’s time to get to know it! It’s loaded with protein, fiber, and vitamin C.
Artichokes: You’ve found the vegetable with one of the highest protein counts in an artichoke.
Peas: In only one cup of peas, you’ll be treating your body to eight grams of protein.
Greek Yogurt: One cup of full-fat plain greek yogurt will get you more than 20 grams of protein, not to mention the gut-healing probiotics.
You don’t have to give up meat completely, but after experiencing all these benefits and indulging in some amazing foods (try some of our vegetarian dishes), you just might find yourself a little less attached to it.
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