You may be considering cutting down on meat or ditching it altogether, but just haven't found the right opportunity to pull the switch. If so, May is the perfect time to do it, as the weather gets warmer and seasonal vegetables and fruits full of antioxidants are more plentiful. Whether you're considering leaving meat behind for your health or the planet, both happen when you swap out meat and choose more plant-based sources of protein.

Ditching red meat has been scientifically proven to lower your risk of heart disease, help you lose weight and reduce your lifetime risk of type 2 diabetes and keep blood pressure in check. You'll also lower your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia when you take meat off the table and choose a plant-based approach instead. Eating less meat and dairy (both high in saturated fat) has also been shown to lower your risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. And when you leave meat out of your diet you will start to lighten your carbon footprint, as agriculture of farmed animals is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases.

The Month of May is the Perfect Moment to Ditch Meat

Just so you realize that going meatless in May is a growing trend, there is a No Meat May charity effort out of Australia and another  Meatless May Challenge that is gaining steam closer to home.

The Beet has a 7 Day Beginner's Guide to Going Plant-Based that provides recipes, tips, expert advice, and everything you need for your first week of trying meatless meals.

And to get a free recipe of the day that will keep you satisfied on a plant-based diet, sign up for the Recipe of the Day newsletter and you'll receive 31 days of delicious meat-free dishes.

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It's Never Been Easier to Ditch the Meat, With Delicious Meat Alternatives

You may think: "I love my pasta bolognese, my cheeseburgers, and my meatball heroes. Hands off my bacon, and stay away from my breakfast sausage." Well, you'll have no problem eating all your favorite foods, just meat-free versions since now there is a growing number of plant-based meat alternatives that taste as good as the real thing. You know about Beyond Burgers or Impossible Meat, but there is now a plethora of tasty choices of meat substitutes on the market.

Consider These Delicious Meat Alternatives, As You Go Meat-Free for May

And if you're going dairy-free, try these delicious plant-based cheeses

For more amazing meatless choices, see the entire lineup of vegan products that make it fun to swap out your old tradition for healthier animal-free choices. Challenge a family member to join in and see what eating meatless tastes like, and better yet what it feels like. You might just get hooked.

Going Meatless will also save you money at the store

A study from Sous Vide explored how Americans feel about a plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian lifestyle, and then took a closer look at their shopping habits. On average, meatless shoppers save $23 every time they go to the grocery store. Beyond nutrition and environmental causes, the money-saving potential for going meatless is worth it

Whether it's nutritional or environmental inspiration, a meat-free approach to eating benefits the environment, as this chart posted on Meatless May's website shows

Giving up meat is the easiest way to join the fight against climate change

University of Michigan - Center For Sustainable Systems

A study from Faunalytics shows that when you're trying to give up meat, even doing it part of the way can be a major benefit to your health and the planet. and that giving up most meat or doing it most of the time is beneficial. So for May, try telling yourself that you're going to reduce your meat consumption since that approach can be more successful than trying to be strict or dogmatic in your approach. The best approach when edging toward a plant-based outlook appears to be "to lean into plants," and make the goal of eating a "mostly" plant-based diet, then pushing it a little further as you get used to this new way of eating.

The study found that if you go meatless for 15 out of  21 meals a week you are reducing your meat and dairy consumption by about 75 percent. This would have enormous impacts on your health and that of the planet.

So consider this more of a dip into the pool than a plunge into the plant-based ocean. As a first step, going meat-free doesn't have to mean giving up your favorite foods. The Beet has plenty of guides, recipes, and tips that will make it easier.

If You Are Going Meat-Free But Like the Taste of Meat in a Recipe, Try these 

Instead of a hamburger, try an Impossible Burger

Instead of Chorizo try Soyrizo

Instead of Meatballs try Gardein's Plant-Based Meatballs

Instead of Eggs try JUST Eggs

Instead of Ground Beef try Beyond Grounds

Instead of Deli Slices try Lightlife Deli Slices

Go Meatless on the Road With Fast Food Plant-Based Choices

One of the most difficult situations to shop plant-based is on a road trip, but several fast-food restaurants have taken strides to bring plant-based options that make it easy to ditch meat on the road. So, even when in a pinch, staying meatless while lunching at a fast-food stop is now completely doable. Here is a round-up of what you can eat for Meatless May.

Everything That Is Meat-Free at Burger King 

Everything That Is Plant-Based at Dunkin' Donuts 

Everything That Is Plant-Based at Taco Bell

Everything That Is Plant-Based at Del Taco

Everything That Is Plant-Based at Carl's Jr. 

Where to Go Meat-Free in Your City or Near You

Check out these Meatless City Guides from New York to LA and about two dozen US cities in between (plus Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, and more) to introduce you to new plant-based restaurants this month. No matter where you are in the United States, the amount of delicious and innovative plant-based options is on the rise. Try some of these restaurants or seek out plant-based cuisine in your city.  (And tell us how it's going, where we should cover meatless options next, or suggest your favorite plant-based dish or eatery!) After Meatless May, they might end up on your regular rotation.