going veg: the consumerist slant

this article is a little out of date now, but last month, MSN Money published an article on the financial benefits of cutting meat out of your diet -- both the cheaper costs of plant-based proteins at the grocery store (like lentils, brown rice, and tofu), and the longterm savings in healthcare:

Go vegetarian to save money

"With this kind of savings, you could afford to buy a few ounces of bluefoot mushrooms -- or an occasional organic, grass-fed, beef tenderloin at $26.99 a pound."

in some ways, i appreciate the underlying sentiment, as it challenges the idea of vegetarianism as something that requires buying fancy fake meat products at upscale natural foods stores, and highlights the well-documented health benefits of a plant-based diet. on the other hand, though, it reinforces the sentiment that food should be cheap, reassuring readers that it's fine to buy large amounts of cheap conventional produce if organic seems too dear. in explaining the costs that underlie the high price of organic foods, the article focuses on the smaller scale of sustainable farming, in contrast to the alleged efficiency of industrial food production. but this just serves to downplay the signficant costs of certification under the current USDA organic guidelines, and further obscures the very real impact of industrial agriculture on the environment -- a cost that is passed on to taxpayers in other ways.

ultimately, i suspect most people who limit or forgo meat in their diets are prioritizing values other than frugality (like their own health, and that of the environment), but it's worth considering the financial angle, particularly in terms of making nutritious and nourishing foods available to people at all income levels.

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