Ask someone why they don’t eat meat, and the two big answers are probably ‘it’s cruel’ or the slightly less noble ‘I don’t like the taste’.
But there are more good reasons why around four million Britons eschew the carnivorous diet, too; like how eating vegetarian could also make you healthier, slimmer, kinder, and – all importantly – very on-trend.
Here are the reasons you should be saying no to steak.
1. Influence positive lifestyle choices
“Vegetarians and vegans often choose this way of eating for health reasons and are more likely to adopt other healthy lifestyle choices such as avoiding smoking, drinking less and exercising more which can positively affect long-term health,” says Rob Hobson, nutritionist at Healthspan.
2. More balanced diet
“Avoiding meat is only one component of a vegetarian and vegan diet. The plant-based nature of these diets means a high intake of wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, pulses and non-meat proteins such as tofu,” says Hobson.
“These diets tend to be nutrient dense, high in fibre and low in saturated fat.”
However, he adds that some nutrients such as iron and omega 3 can be tricky to achieve if a meat-free diet is not well thought through (especially vegan), and “a supplement may be useful”.
“Vegetarians tend to eat more vitamins C and E, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids.
This means they are likely to have lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index (BMI) which may reduce their risk of many chronic diseases.”
Recent figures suggest that the average carnivore Brit will consume 30 sheep, 80 turkeys and 4,500 fish over a lifetime (and that’s not even taking into account the 3,000 rabbits, ducks, geese, goats, prawns, squid and other small animals).
It’s no wonder, then, that approximately 70% of agricultural land is currently used for livestock (which will only increase with an increasing population).
Add all the methane cows produce, all the water they and other livestock drink and all the waste they produce, and you’ve got a very ugly little sum of planet/climate ruination. Basically, stop eating so much meat and help save the world.
5. Aiding weightloss
A survey by Quorn, the meat substitute, suggests that if every UK household switched from beef mince to Quorn just once a week, the nation would save 370 billion calories a year.
Although, of course, just because you’re not eating meat, doesn’t give you free rein: “Non-meat eaters still have to follow the guiding principles of a healthy diet as existing on pizza, refined grains, fizzy drinks and sweet snacks is technically vegetarian and of no benefit too your health,” points out Hobson.
“Eating too many calories and making unhealthy lifestyle choices is detrimental to both the health of everyone, regardless of whether you choose to avoid meat or all animal products.”
6. Saving money
It’s basic budgeting maths. Even if you’re happy to go with the cheap battery-farmed, hormone-pumped meat and not the very expensive but healthy organic versions, you’re still spending a lot more than you would on a plate of veggies and pulses.
As an added bonus, a few years ago, some life insurance firms even offered vegetarians cheaper premiums on the basis they were healthier and lived longer.