There are many good reasons to choose a vegetarian diet. One leading reason to stop eating meat is because doing so can save you a lot of money. However, people who do eat meat can provide you with a lot of good reasons that you shouldn’t go vegetarian. Many people justify their own desire to eat meat by keeping these reasons at the ready, giving themselves peace of mind. The problem is that a lot of these reasons to eat meat are actually myths. And people who choose to believe in them are spending more money at the grocery store or farmers’ market than they should be.

Meat-Eater Myth #1: Eating meat is more convenient than eating a vegetarian diet. One of the leading reasons that a lot of people will eat meat is because it’s convenient for them. Stopping off at a fast food joint for a one dollar burger is a lot more convenient than getting together ingredients and making a meal at home, right? Wrong. Nearly every fast food joint or restaurant now intentionally offers vegetarian alternatives. They certainly have the vegetables to make a special request. Take a look and you’ll see that the vegetarian options on menus are generally lower in cost than the meat options. While it may be tough to find high-quality organic vegan dishes in your area at a low cost, it’s not inconvenient to find affordable vegetarian choices.

Meat-Eater Myth #2: You need animal protein in your diet. Athletes, pregnant women and parents often justify the desire to eat meat by saying that they need animal protein in order to be healthy human beings. In his recent book called Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer dispels this myth, citing statistics that indicate that the average vegetarian diet is higher in protein and healthier in other nutrients than the average meat-eater’s diet. You may be spending more on animal protein than you would spend on a vegetarian diet due to this myth. More importantly, a vegetarian diet is arguably healthier which reduces your long-term medical care costs and saves you a whole lot of money over time compared to the ongoing costs of a meat-based diet.

Meat-Eater Myth #3: Meat is necessary to get enough iron in the diet. Do you buy red meat because you know that it offers iron for your diet? Did you know that you could get healthy amounts of iron from much lower-cost sources including whole grains and dried beans and fruit?

Meat-Eater Myth #4: Expensive meat is better for you. Perhaps you’ve heard arguments for vegetarianism that talk about animal cruelty and the health problems associated with factory farming and so on and so forth. As a result, you’ve bought into the idea that it’s worth it to pay a lot more for organic, range-free, cage-free animals. You’re willing to spend more for “good” meat. The problem is that the labels on those foods are iffy and there’s a good chance that this more expensive meat isn’t any less cruel or any healthier for you than some of the cheaper stuff.

Meat-Eater Myth #5: Giving up meat won’t save any money. A large number of people mistakenly believe that they would need mass quantities of other foods to replace the meat that they would give up and that this would end up costing them just as much. This isn’t true. If you eat a varied diet filled with in-season fresh foods then you can significantly lower the cost of your grocery bill.

If you don’t want to eat a vegetarian diet then by all means make that choice. However, don’t allow myths to justify your decision. Meat-based diets DO tend to cost more than vegetarian diets. They may also have long-term impacts on healthy and the environment that could cost us money down the road. If you choose to eat meat, be aware that you are paying a price.