Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:56 pm

Health on a Budget: Vegetarianism has numerous health benefits

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Living a healthy life can get tricky.

I completely understand that. I’ve struggled with my weight since graduating from high school. Over the span of almost a decade of trial and error, I have hammered out some healthy living basics that I’d like to share with you.

With New Year’s Day come and gone, maybe you decided to cut out meat or just cut back on how much meat you’re consuming in favor of your overall health. I’m a fan of moderation. While I still eat poultry and fish, I have been trying to cut back on how much of those meats I intake. 

For those on the fence about becoming vegetarian or for those who just don’t understand why someone would choose to live life without steak, here are some things to consider.

Sustainability

According to an article by NPR, “A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up,” the United States was the second highest consumer of meat in the world, consuming on average more than 270 pounds  of meat per person yearly.

That is a ridiculous amount, especially considering, according to the article, it takes 74.5 square feet for grazing and growing feed crop to produce a quarter-pound hamburger.

Cruelty

Animal cruelty, especially toward livestock, is, unfortunately, not news to most people. On the PETA website, there are articles detailing the kinds of lives that commercially-raised animals live.

From the chickens kept in total confinement and a state of forced growth via drugs, to how some cows survive their killing gunshot and are skinned and gutted while still alive, PETA paints an atrocious picture of the animal cruelty that is fueled by the hunger for meat.

The argument is made by some that livestock are just animals and have no real feelings, but most people would never dream of treating a cat or dog the way we ignore how our commercially-farmed animals are treated. 

Health

Red and processed meat have been long scrutinized to determine their effect on humans’ health.  The World Health Organization came out with an article in October 2015 on red meat’s connection to cancer

Also, if you became vegetarian to lose weight, you may be in for a disappointment.

There is plenty of junk food available for vegetarians, and if you aren’t careful when cutting out animal protein, you can find yourself suffering deficiencies.

Plant-based proteins, like beans and nuts, are prime sources of protein and incredibly satiating, so, for your health’s sake, step away from the empty carbs and say hello to the plant carbs.

Cost

To address the concern that healthy eating is expensive, I want to share one of my favorite vegetarian recipes.  It’s the Black Bean Burger, and this recipe makes four burgers.

 

  •     1 can black beans ($0.89)
  •     1 cup brown rice ($0.89 per bag)
  •     2 eggs ($1.19 six-egg carton)
  •     4 lettuce leaves ($0.99 per head)
  •     4 hamburger buns ($1.25 eight-pack)
  •     Total = $5.21 (prices from local Smiths)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a baking sheet. Mash black beans to a paste with a fork, then add the rice and eggs to the mixture. I recommend seasonings, which can be as simple as a tablespoon of salt and black pepper or as exotic as you want. Form the mixtures into patties, place on baking sheet, and cook for 10 minutes on each side.

You now have delicious black bean burgers and one more argument in favor of being a vegetarian.

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