In the past, we’ve challenged you to go meatless for at least one meal a day. If you’re finding this, well, challenging - you’re not the only one. Some folks devour meat with ease, some abhor it, and others are looking to cut back on their intake. No matter which camp you fall into, it’s worth knowing how going meatless for dinner can benefit a healthy lifestyle, regardless of what that looks like for you.

The Benefits of Going Meatless for Dinner

Make no mistake; it’s not just vegans and raw foodies who are on board with cutting back meat intake. Everyone from Mayo Clinic to Muscle & Fitness have published pieces on all there is to gain from abstaining at least one day per week. 

We’d like to take this a step further and suggest replacing your meat-based dinners with a meat substitute or veggie-based fare. Never fear—there are plenty of delicious, protein-rich meals that will soon have you forgetting you ever cut back on meat in the first place.

Here are some of the notable heath, environmental, and financial benefits of going meatless for dinner!

1.  Going Meatless Supports a Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 610,000 lives every year.

Meat is certainly a culprit in these chilling statistics, with red meat in particular putting individuals at increased risk of developing heart disease. In fact, the National Institute of Health found that eating red meat on a daily basis triples the levels of a heart disease-causing chemical called TMAO.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost. If you want to cut back on red meat intake, a good place to start is with meals that are filling, yet use veggies or tofu as a foundation instead. Black beans, quinoa, and seitan can all be used as substitutes for meat products like burgers and steaks.

2.  Going Meatless Promotes Weight Loss

The fact of the matter is, most US residents eat more than enough protein on a weekly basis. It’s true that protein is incredibly important, but meat is not the only vessel for this essential nutrient. Moreover, meat is also rich in solid fats that diminish its net nutritional value. As a result, plenty of Americans find themselves putting on weight as they continue to use meat as their primary source of protein. 

Vegetarians, on the other hand, were shown to lose more weight on average than those sticking to a typical American diet, according to a 2015 meta-analysis published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Those looking to lose weight without dramatically altering their lifestyle might consider replacing their largest meat-bearing meal with lighter fare that features an array of protein-rich legumes like lentils.

3.  Going Meatless Is Great for the Environment

Cutting back on meat isn’t just good for you, but Mother Earth too! A comprehensive analysis on farming and environmental damage shows just how dire the situation is regarding commercial meat farming. Published in the journal Science in June 2018, the review’s lead researcher Joseph Poore told the Guardian, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth”. 

4.  Going Meatless Is Good for Your Wallet!

Buying free-range, organic meat is quite pricey, making it difficult for individuals and families to access high-quality meat on a regular basis. Indeed, there have even been reports of grocery store meat heists orchestrated by criminals looking to profit off the sky-high price tags of prime beef cuts. Instead of buying the cheap stuff, consider saving a couple extra bucks by picking up inexpensive but filling alternatives like beans or whole-wheat pasta.