As the final grains of sand pour through 2015's hourglass, you may be one of the millions of Americans thinking about resolutions to get the New Year started off on the right foot. Well, there's one resolution that's easy, delicious and fun -- pledging to enjoy more plant-based meals in 2016 and beyond.
Here are five top reasons to embrace the Three Rs -- "reducing" or "replacing" consumption of animal products, and "refining" our diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards:
1. Look and feel better.
Studies show that people who eat less meat tend to have healthier bodyweights. When I shifted away from a meat-heavy diet toward a plant-based diet 22 years ago, I went from being an overweight kid to a fit kid within months, and I felt great!
2. Less meat = more dough. Save money!
TIME magazine reported this year that "skipping animal protein doesn't just add years to your life: New research suggests vegetarians can save at least $750 more than meat-eaters per year." 'Nuff said.
3. Prevent animal abuse, not exposés of animal abuse.
Whistleblowing exposés throughout 2015 showed that the mistreatment of animals is the norm, not the exception, on factory farms that produce nearly all the meat, eggs and dairy in our country. Unfortunately, the meat lobby's response hasn't been to try to prevent abuse, but to prevent whistleblowing by pushing ag-gag bills. You know an industry has a lot to hide when it wants to criminalize taking a photo of what it's doing.
4. Protect the planet.
The science is clear: if we're serious about climate change, we need to be serious about eating lower on the food chain. This 2015 headline says it all: "Eating less meat only way to save planet, warns climate think tank."
5. Maximize your chance of living beyond 2016!
As Dr. Michael Greger notes in his 2015 New York Times bestseller How Not to Die, the easiest way to reduce your risk of perishing from the most common killers of Americans -- like heart disease -- is to enjoy a more plant based diet. Marion Nestle, Ph.D., of NYU's nutrition department is blunt on the topic: "There is no question that largely vegetarian diets are as healthy as you can get. The evidence is so strong and overwhelming and produced over such a long period of time that it's no longer debatable."
So, there you have it -- it's not debatable. Want to get started? Here are some free recipes!