If You’re Cheap, It’s a Great Time to Be a Vegetarian

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
July 22 2014 5:54 PM

If You’re Cheap, It’s a Great Time to Be a Vegetarian

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Kale: not just for hipsters, but for the savvy shopper too.

Photo by Jennifer via Flickr

If you've ever wanted to try the whole vegetarian thing, now is the time, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out earlier today. Meat prices continued to rise in June and drastically outpaced other types of food. While grocery prices on the whole were essentially flat last month, the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs spiked 7.5 percent. The biggest increases came in pork products: Pork chops jumped 14.3 percent while bacon, breakfast sausage, and related food stuffs climbed 12.2 percent. Beef and veal prices rose 10.4 percent from May.

Soaring meat prices are, of course, nothing new. As we've written before, a deadly pig virus is decimating the pork supply and the domestic cattle herd is the smallest it's been since 1951. Ongoing conflict in Ukraine—a major exporter of corn and wheat—has left farmers facing higher feed prices for what livestock they do have. Only poultry has not been terribly affected, with prices up a modest 1.5 percent since last month. Then again, that could change if fertility problems recently discovered in fat roosters seriously disrupt the supply of chickens raised for slaughter.

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Back in the produce aisle, the cost of fruits and vegetables rose moderately—up 3 percent—while the price of processed fruits and vegetables actually declined by 0.3 percent. Dairy was a little more expensive, adding 3.9 percent overall and more in subsets such as cheese and milk. Which is all to say that the truly cost-conscious shopper might not just want to try the vegetarian route right now, but even test out eating vegan. The only real financial danger there is citrus fruits, which gained a whopping 12.2 percent month over month.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

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