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Drought to send meat and dairy prices soaring

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If meat and dairy make up a large portion of your diet, expect to shell out a lot more for your groceries in 2013. With more than half of the country experiencing drought conditions, resulting in fewer crops to feed the livestock responsible for the food we eat, you can expect to pay 3% to 4% more for milk, eggs, beef, poultry and pork in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As reported by the Associated Press, the USDA said consumers should expect to see the biggest price increase for beef, between 4% and 5%, followed by dairy at 3.5% to 4.5%, poultry and egg prices at 3% to 4%, and pork prices at 2.5% to 3.5%.

So, if you were looking for a reason to cut back on the amount of animal products you eat, aside from the health and environmental factors, saving some money on your grocerybill is a big one.

People who eat a diet consisting of lots of fresh produce won’t be hit as hard in the wallet. Fruits and vegetables — while expected to increase in price between 2% and 3% next year (the same as this year) — are not as affected by droughts as grains, and are irrigated even in normal weather.

The good news is that cutting back on meat and dairy consumption doesn’t have to be a chore. Even devoting one day a week — say, Monday — to eating a vegetarian or vegan diet will go a long way toward saving you money at the supermarket.

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