I will not eat green eggs and ham

Over at MSN Money there’s an interesting article on saving titled “Go Vegetarian to Save Money”. Go read it – there’s another article at MSN on the same topic here. There’s a compelling case to be made that a vegetarian diet is superior, including reasons beyond those listed in the article.

  • Vegetarianism tends to be healthier. Vegetarianism lowers your risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. It can also help you lose weight. Of course, the benefits of a vegetarian diet are still dependent on the actions of the individual. Eating cheese pizzas all day makes you a vegetarian, but it won’t make you healthier.
  • It’s better for the environment. “Replacing one 3.5-ounce serving of beef, one egg, and a 1-ounce serving of cheese each day with a mix of vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains would spare the need for 1.8 acres of cropland, 40 pounds of fertilizer, and 3 ounces of pesticides each year. It also would mean dumping 11,400 fewer pounds of animal manure into the environment each year.” However, you have to consider other factors. If you eat exotic imported nuts from Africa and California oranges, a lot of pollution is being created moving those items around the world.
  • Vegetarianism is cheaper. As pointed out in the article, you can save money by avoiding meat somewhat or altogether.
  • It’s less cruel. (Flash file)

One of the problems we have had as we reduce our meat consumption at home has been that in the past we tried to buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. As anyone who has spent time in Whole Foods or Garden of Eden knows, this can be nightmarishly expensive. We also prefer natural or organic meats. Free-range organic-fed chicken is tasty, but it is terribly expensive.

So in this shorter-than-usual post, I will just pose the question: at what point do you eliminate a food from your diet, and what makes you do it? When we all learned in the 80s that tuna “killed dolphins” we ran shrieking away from it. When people hear about mad cow disease, that’s sometimes the tipping point to get them to quit eating beef. I quit eating my favorite brand of hummus when it hit $4 per small container in our local supermarket. I decided very arbitrarily to quit eating 99% of the pork products out there when I saw a brief little piece in the New York Times on what, exactly, a pig’s life is like pre-slaughter.

What are the “tipping points” that cause you to give up a type of food? Financial? Health? Environmental?