Why are Americans Eating Less Meat?

As we reported earlier, a sharp drop in U.S. domestic meat and poultry consumption is expected in 2012. According to USDA forecasts, the average American will consume 12.2% less meat and poultry in 2012 than they did 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.

In an excellent new article in the New York Times, Mark Bittman discusses the possible causes. He concludes that the key driver for this change is not growing exports or some non-existent Government “War on Meat” that’s making a difference. Instead, the change seems to be driven by people making the conscious decision to eat less meat for all the right reasons.

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As we speculated previously, the drop is being caused by opposition to meat consumption for reasons ranging from concerns over health to the environment, animal rights and social justice. Bittman points to the rise of  the “flexitarianism” trend and growing awareness of the the Meatless Monday campaign as evidence of the shift that seems to be taking place in the U.S.

He doesn’t specifically call it out, but we also think all the efforts to spread awareness of the vegan lifestyle are making a huge difference.

For the sake of people’s health, as well as the lives of animals and the future of the planet, let’s hope this awesome trend continues  in the years ahead!

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Image Source: Alex Proimos/Flickr