Why Are We Eating Less Meat?

Americans eat more meat than any other population in the world; about one-sixth of the total, though we’re less than one-twentieth of the population.

But that’s changing.

Until recently, almost everyone considered their dinner plate naked without a big old hunk of meat on it. (You remember “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner,” of course. How could you forget?) And we could afford it: our production methods and the denial of their true costs have kept meat cheap beyond all credibility. (American hamburger is arguably the cheapest convenience food there is.) This, in part, is why we spend a smaller percentage of our money on food than any other country, and much of that goes toward the roughly half-pound of meat each of us eats, on average, every day.

But that’s changing, and considering the fairly steady climb in meat consumption over the last half-century, you might say the numbers are plummeting. The department of agriculture projects that our meat and poultry consumption will fall again this year, to about 12.2 percent less in 2012 than it was in 2007. Beef consumption has been in decline for about 20 years; the drop in chicken is even more dramatic, over the last five years or so; pork also has been steadily slipping for about five years.

Holy cow. What’s up?

Read the rest of this column here.

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Posted in Food Politics


  1. MicheleArnold said...

    Eating more fish? I know I am.

  2. Chris Gillis said...

    I think people like Mark and Michael Pollan have been doing a great job showing folks where there Meat is coming from and people are disgusted with it…rightly so. If there was more local, farm raised, free range meat on the market or it was the standard, I think meat would be consumed on a larger level – but in the state that factory farming is in right now its pretty disgusting.

  3. MelBHab said...

    I am personally eating less meat because I feel better this way. Also, it saves money and I have lost a couple pounds too. The notion that meat should be more of a seasoning that the basis of a meal has been really helpful. This year I have started eating vegetarian lunches all week. It has been a fun exercise in choices and not at all difficult.

  4. CaptRockyBob said...

    After 45 y eating minimal animal fat (lowering cholesterol, don’tcha know), I switched back to a high fat, meat laden diet. Forty pounds fell off with no effort, no calorie restriction, and my "pre-diabetes" and "non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome" disappeared! After six years of this diet and six yrs off all cholesterol meds my serum chol is 640!!, my arteries are absolutely plaque free and I have more energy than ever. Recent stress echocardiogram said I had the heart of someone 24 yrs younger than my 65 yr age. Go figure!

  5. VaTxn said...

    I’m not eating any less meat, so somebody must be eating negative meat to make up for my evildoing.

  6. Litzz11 said...

    I’m eating more meat than 10 years ago. I was a vegetarian when I got married but my husband was not. Guess who lost THAT battle. I also think the endless PR about the health benefits of fish has probably had an impact.

  7. radhamarcum said...

    There are sooooo many benefits to eating less meat … research is just scratching the surface. Take this new study that shows vegan diets reduce e. coli and other nefarious bacteria strains in our guts. http://newhope360.com/blog/e-coli-phobia-switch-vegan-or-vegetarian-diet

  8. TomDuncombe said...

    What CaptRockyBob said. And I’m a lot healthier for switching to a low-carb diet.

  9. lunchboxbunch said...

    First off, Mark, I love your blog and thanks for keeping the "meat conversation" in the mainstream in a smart, fair and lively fashion! I’m vegan. Personally, I think a main reason why less meat is eaten is simply because the vegan and vegetarian foods are easier to find. More accessible. And just as important – they are more delicious and satisfying than they were a few years ago. With amazing vegan recipe blogs, food product companies (Daiya, Gardein, etc) and restaurants – it is just so tempting to at least TRY meat-free foods. And once you try, you’ll be convinced that "hey, this stuff tastes great!!" I’ve personally seen dozens of people "go veg" in recent years – and these are folks who would never dream of trying tofu 5-10 years ago. Notably, my mom and dad. They have seen how I eat and how delicious my food is and they have slowly eased into it as a lifestyle they love. My mom lost 20 pounds and gained tons of vibrant energy her first year on a mostly vegan diet. And once you learn about the horrors of the meat and dairy industry the more you want to educate yourself on alternative ways to eat. The meat and potatoes, white flour roll, butter, tall glass of milk and tiny side of veggies diet is dying. Slowly but surely. I’m a culinary photographer and producer over at http://www.healthy-happy-life.com – u can find my vegan recipes there if curious to see how vegans eat and thrive.

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