I’m always on the lookout for interesting ways to save money. Unfortunately giving up luxuries like lattes or alcohol is normally the only way. Typically there is a linear relationship between money saved and quality of life. Meaning quality of life increases as spending increases. Buy the nicer car and be more comfortable, go to the more expensive restaurant and eat better.
Fortunately the world is not so predictable, or fair. There are numerous exceptions to the spend-more-get-more trend. You simply need to re-frame money saving opportunities to highlight their benefits. For example, take alcohol (and recreational drugs in general). For the low price of $9/drink you get reduced inhibitions and a generally fun time. But what if you ordered water instead? Well, aside from being that jerk at the bar who doesn’t spend money, you’re likely to have a similar amount of fun. People who have fun tend to make those around them have fun.
Beyond fun I like to focus on health. Alcohol is not healthy (Wow great insight I know). Even one drink per day has been linked to increased cancer risk, especially in women. Also vomiting, stomach aches, and hangovers are good enough reason for me to reduce alcohol consumption.
For me, the financial and health benefits of abstaining outweigh the fun of consumption. This attitude has the added benefit of sounding morally superior to all my alcoholic friends!
But I’m not here to convince you to give up drinking. I’m here to convince you to give up meat and dairy. WAIT DON’T LEAVE YET. Hear me out first. The argument against alcohol is the same as the argument against meat and dairy. Actually there is more to it. But lets start where we are. Meat is expensive. Cheese is even more expensive. I’ve broken down the prices of similar foods on a cost-per-calorie basis. Obviously there is more to nutrition than calories, but plant based foods tend to also be more nutritious. All prices come straight from the current rates in Superstore. I only used the regular price, not the sale price, and got the biggest volume they offered (8kg for white rice for example).
Holy hell plants are cheap! Basically all legumes (lentils/beans) are cheaper than meat on a cost per calorie basis. Bacon is the only meat that comes close. White rice blows it out of the park at half the cost of red lentils. And eggs are double the price of lentils. Dead last is frozen shrimp. The cost will vary based on the grocery store, but the end result will be similar. Plants are cheaper than meat.
“Hold on, if I only eat rice where will I get protein? Plants don’t have any protein!”
That’s where you’re wrong. All plants have varying amounts of protein. Sure, meat has more protein per pound of weight. But plants contain more than enough protein to meet daily needs.
But plant proteins aren’t complete proteins!
Partial credit. Some plants lack lysine, an amino acid common in meat. But of the foods listed above the lysine rich plants include: Tempeh, Lentils, Quinoa, Black Beans. As a bonus, quinoa is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids!
But how much does protein actually cost? Let’s rank the foods above based on their cost per 10g of protein. I included the protein per serving as well. Meats will obviously be more protein dense, but that doesn’t mean they are cheaper.
Once again the legumes are ahead! Protein in the form of red lentils is 60% cheaper than eggs. Chicken breast is the cheapest meat source and tenderloin steak is the loser at a whopping $3.01 for 10g of protein. To get 60g of protein per day (the daily recommended amount for a typical man), you’d have to spend $18 on steak compared to a paltry $0.66 of red lentils. Even rice is a cheap source of protein! The Asian continent must be onto something.
If you want to dig into my sources, here’s the link to the google sheet with all the data I used including some extra foods I researched.
Other reasons to eat less meat/dairy/eggs
Okay so you see how eating plants is cheaper. Well there’s three more reasons beyond the price:
- Health – We all know that vegetables are healthy, but most people don’t realize how unhealthy meat is. Approximately 50% of all deaths in Canada are caused by cancer and heart disease(link). Eliminating meat and dairy has been shown to protect against both (link).
- Environment – Do you like the environment? And believe climate change is an issue? Then stop eating meat. In Alberta, half of food-related greenhouse gas emissions are from meat production, and half from crops (link). But it’s worse than that. 36% of all calories produced by crops are fed to meat animals (link). So a more accurate number would be roughly 68% of food-related emissions are due to meat production.
- Ethics – All animals have the capacity to feel pain and suffer. A pig or cow can suffer just as much as a dog or cat. “But Canada doesn’t have inhumane factory farms like USA does!” Canada has many factory farms (image-free link).
In my opinion, the only conceivable reason to continue eating meat is because you like the taste. But is it really worth everything I laid out above? Let me know in the comments if you disagree.
Spam your friends: