Eat, Drink & Be Happy

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Contact: Emily Thomsen:


AMES, Iowa — While many vegetarians choose the lifestyle due to animal welfare concerns, others are turning to a meatless diet for economic reasons. Vegetarian diets are focused around fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes—all of which cost less than meat.

For college students, saving money on the grocery bill is a necessity. An October 21 New York Times article by Tamar Lewin reported that attendance to a four-year public college averages $15,213. Combined with the increasing cost of attendance is a growing concentration of debt.

In 2008, 67 percent of graduates from four-year colleges and universities had student loan debt, with the average level of debt reaching $23,200, according to a fact sheet from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. Sallie Mae, a leading provider of saving and paying for education programs, found that the average balance on college students’ credit cards in 2008 was the highest balance measured to date: $3,173.

In addition to saving money, going meatless has been found to have measurable health benefits. The CNN article “Meatless Meals: The Benefits of Eating Less Meat” cites a National Cancer Institute study that determined participants consuming 4 ounces or more of read meat each day “were 30 percent more likely to die of any cause over 10 years than were those who consumed less.”

A March 23 story by Amanda Gardner of ABC’s Health Day, explains the study’s findings further by reporting that “diets high in read meat and in processed meat shorten life span from cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, stomach ulcers and an array of other conditions.”

Although a completely vegetarian diet may not be for everyone, cost savings and health benefits may sway some to forgo meat once or twice a week.

Replace hamburger with vegetables in traditional pasta dishes for a healthy and budget-friendly meal. Photo: Emily Thomsen


Emily Thomsen is a senior in Marketing at Iowa State University. Thomsen is the author of “Eat, Drink & Be Happy,” a blog covering the vegetarian lifestyle on a budget.


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