You already know that eating healthy can help your body, mind, and spirit. Whole foods like vegetables, basilwhole grains and fruits supply our bodies with essential nutrients that help keep us energized and ward off diseases. But did you know that healthy eating also helps the environment and your wallet? According to Science Daily magazine, shifting entirely from an average American diet to a vegetable-based one would reduce the same emissions as 8,000 miles driven per year!  Daily Meat consumption accounts for over 1,000 driving meals per day!  Mark Bittman, author of several cookbooks, adds that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would like we all switched from driving a sedan to a hybrid.

Incorporating more vegetarian dishes into your diet will not only help you live greener, but will save you some green too.  Meat costs $3 to $4 a pound, sometimes more or less depending on where you live and where you shop.  Generally, plant proteins like beans, lentils, mushrooms, tofu and whole grains, to name a few, cost less than $2 per pound. So you get more bang for your buck, and by eating more plants, you could extend your life by several years, as well as lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. Additionally, you will have more energy, as vegetables, especially leafy greens, provide abundant cellular energy.  That’s a real bargin!

If you aren’t ready (or inclined) to go completely veg, then try swapping out one or two meat based meals for vegetarian meals per week. Start by taking meat out of your favorite dishes like lasagna, stuffed peppers, or Shepherd’s pie and making them with lentils or whole grains instead. Also, try using meat as a condiment, rather than the centerpiece. Flavoring vegetable dishes with meat add depth to the dish, without digging into your wallet.

Eating healthy may seem more expensive at first, but once you get into the swing of things, you will find it will save you money, and will certainly save you money in the long run as your health improves!  Give it a try by cutting out meat once a week, or reducing the amount you eat at each meal.