How Saving Animals Saves Me Money

I am a vegetarian. Have been for the last 10 years. No meat, no fish, nothing with a face. I eat this way for ethical reasons – factory farming is an abomination – not because I’m against meat as a food item. I just can’t justify choosing to eat one form of meat (like a pig or a chicken) but then deciding another form of meat (like a dog or a cat) is better off as a companion animal!

It especially doesn’t make sense when you realize how horrifically animals are treated just so they can end up on your dinner plate.

It especially, ESPECIALLY doesn’t make sense when you realize that human beings can thrive on a plant based, meat-free diet.

It QUADRUPLY doesn’t make sense when you realize that it’s so much cheaper to eat a vegetarian diet than a carnivorous one.

One of my favorite websites, Budget Bytes, often features vegetarian dishes just because they are so cheap to make. (And yes, delicious too!)

Now, if you’re one of those assholes that’s going to leave a picture of a bacon in my comments section you can just fuck right off. After 10 years of not eating meat I’ve heard every single clever joke you can come up with. I don’t miss bacon AT ALL, because I never ever enjoyed eating pork products even when I did eat meat.

Pretty sure I have PTSD from being forced to drown pork chops in applesauce when I was a kid because I hated pork so much.

Anyway, the fact remains that I eat vegetarian for ethical reasons. But it also helps me save money on food and groceries. Win-win-win!

If we take a look at the cost of a pound of ground meat ($4.99 where I live) and a 16 oz bag of dried lentils ($1.69) I think it becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly that there is a significant savings to be had.

There are about 12 grams of protein in a serving (3 oz) of ground beef and about 279 calories.  

1 cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein! And is only 230 calories! And will fill you up a lot more because there’s more volume to it. That’s pretty awesome.

I could give you a bunch more equally impressive numbers, but I won’t. They’re easily googleable. Instead, I’ll talk to you a little bit about how easy it is to be a vegetarian.

Lots of people freak out when I tell them I don’t eat meat.

“BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?” they scream at me! “YOU’LL DIE!”

First of all, fools. When was the last time you heard of someone in a first world country dying of a protein deficiency? Oh, that’s right. You’ve never heard of that happening.

Chances are good, that my meat-free diet actually has more protein in it than yours. Especially because I eat protein-rich legumes, eggs, and even greens more than you probably do.

So, no, lack of protein is not a reason to not become a vegetarian.

“BUT WHAT DO YOU EAT? TOFU? THAT’S SO BORING.”

OMG, you morons. I eat the same things you eat. Just without the meat!

Pasta? Hold the meat sauce, I’ll take the marinara. Or the alfredo. Or the vodka sauce! Ooh, yeah, the vodka sauce.

Oatmeal? No meat there!

Eggs? Sure! Over easy, rye toast, hold the bacon. Or, no, wait! I’ll take a side of veggie sausage please!

Burritos? Refried beans, fajita veggies, and lots of guac. Yum!

Almost any restaurant or fast food place you go to has a vegetarian option. And cooking vegetarian is super easy because I don’t have to worry about giving people salmonella or under-cooking the chicken or something.

It’s super easy to be a vegetarian.

“BUT MEAT TASTES SO GOOD! I CAN’T NOT EAT IT!”

Umm… candy tastes good, cigarettes taste good, whiskey tastes real good. But we don’t eat that shit all the time (or smoke it), so maybe shouldn’t eat meat all the time either.

You won’t die if you don’t eat meat. You might have cravings for a while. Hell, I still want a Big Mac occasionally, but I’m not going to die if I don’t eat one.

I’ll survive and so will you.

But, I doubt I’m going to convert anyone to vegetarianism just because I say it’s awesome. Instead, what I’d encourage you to do is attempt something like Meatless Monday in your home. Go one or two days a week without meat and see if you can do it. I bet you can.

I bet you might even like it! I even bet you save money!

Now, to thank you for reading this far, here’s a recipe for one of my favorite meatless meals.

Enchilada Pasta

  • 1 red onion diced
  • 2 bell peppers diced (one orange, one green – if you have it)
  • 1 small, mild red chile diced (or spicy if you like spicy)
  • 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup of frozen corn
  • 1 can of green enchilada sauce
  • 1-ish cups of shredded taco blend cheese
  • 2 tbs of taco seasoning
  • 8 oz of dried pasta (I like rotini shape)

Cook the pasta to the package directions – al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, sautee your red onion, peppers, and chiles in a bit of olive oil or broth until mostly cooked through. Add in the black beans, corn, taco seasoning and green enchilada sauce and stir.

Cover and let the mixture come to a boil. If it’s looking a little dry at this point, you can add about a ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water to create a bit more sauce. If you add too much water, just let some of it cook off.

Add in the pasta and cheese and stir to combine everything up. Once the cheese is melty, you’re good to go!

This is not quite a one pot meal because you have to cook off the pasta separately. But it all comes together in the skillet quite nicely.

Serve and top with some chopped scallions or avocado or crushed up tortiall chips.

YUMMY!

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