Limit the animal-fare and you'll be reducing your likelihood for heart disease, the number-one killer of women. "Fatty red meats and many processed meats are high in saturated fat, which raises LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases risk of coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that eating high quantities of these meats (e.g. a small steak every day) also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.Reduce Cancer Risk
It's becoming increasingly clear that a meat-cancer connection exists. In one study of more than 35,000 women published in the British Journal of Cancer, those who ate the most red and processed meat were found to have the highest risk of breast cancer. Other research has linked meat consumption to colon, prostate, pancreatic, and gastric cancers as well. One theory, according to non-profit group The Cancer Project, is that foods with high levels of fat artificially boost the hormones that promote cancer.
To Really Go GreenRaising cattle for beef and milk spews more greenhouse gases into the air than all of the cars currently on the road. That stat came from a 2006 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report, which also found that the livestock industry wreaks havoc on our land and water—taking up vast amounts of scarce resources, and polluting the waterways more than probably any other industry.
Eating a plant-based meal for lunch instead of a burger saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 133 gallons of water, and 24 square feet of land, according to the people over at the PB&J Campaign. They've calculated that in just three lunches, you'll have saved more water than you'll save by switching to a low-flow showerhead.
To stay in shapeThe meat-weight relationship goes beyond calorie math. A large-scale 2010 study from Imperial College London found that those who ate about 250 grams a day (the size of one half-pound steak) of red meat, poultry, or processed meat gained more weight over five years than those who ate less meat, even if they consumed the same amount of calories overall.
Love thy animalsAnimals often suffer greatly in tiny cages, crates, and pens, before enduring frequently cruel slaughter practices. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that if every American cut out meat just once a week, about 1.4 billion animals could be spared each year.
Because It's Easier Now
For just about every meat item on the market, there's a meat-free version that's surprisingly good. From veggie burgers to chick'n nuggets and even corn dogs, you can still indulge in junk meats without going for the real thing. Just remember, even with fake meats, to eat them sparingly—they are often still loaded with sodium.