News / USA

As World Meat Consumption Grows, US Appetite Wanes

As World Meat Consumption Grows, America's Appetite Wanesi
X
April 03, 2013 7:08 PM
For the first time on record, U.S. per-capita meat consumption has declined for four consecutive years, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. VOA's Steve Baragona reports the six-percent drop between 2006 and 2010 is the largest sustained decline since record-keeping began in 1970.
TEXT SIZE - +
— For the first time on record, U.S. per-capita meat consumption has declined for four consecutive years, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The six percent drop between 2006 and 2010 is the largest sustained decline since recordkeeping began in 1970.

Reasons for the decline are at least partly economic: rising prices and a bad U.S. economy have made meat less affordable for American consumers.

But there are intriguing signs that a cultural shift may be underway, as well.

Meat availability in the United States, an indicator of consumption habits.Meat availability in the United States, an indicator of consumption habits.
x
Meat availability in the United States, an indicator of consumption habits.
Meat availability in the United States, an indicator of consumption habits.
'Something is changing'

Joe Yonan grew up in the ranching town of San Angelo, Texas, where beef steaks are a staple food. Now, he’s a vegetarian.

This certified judge of barbecued meat started noticing his tastes shifting while digging in to some Texas brisket a couple years ago.

“It tasted really great,” he said, “But I didn’t find it satisfying on a primal level the way I used to. And that was surprising to me. And I thought, ‘Wow! Something definitely is changing.’”

Something also is changing in the food landscape. This year, for the first time, chefs named vegetarian entrees as a top-10 hot trend in an annual survey by the National Restaurant Association.

Yonan, the award-winning food editor of The Washington Post, noticed the trend at work. His column explaining his conversion to vegetarianism drew mostly positive responses, and not just from vegetarians.

"I got a lot of e-mails from people saying, ‘I’m not a vegetarian but I’m trying to do more of that at home,’” he said.

Flexitarians grow in number

While about seven percent of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians, it's the “flexitarians” - people who eat occasional meatless meals - that market research firms have just begun to explore.

One such firm, Packaged Facts, found that eating along the “meatless spectrum” is popular among college students, who will carry those eating habits into their adult years.

“Young people today are just not so meat-and-potatoes oriented as earlier generations were,” said environmental researcher Lester Brown at the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute.

Health concerns are one reason. Many studies link heavy consumption of red meat to higher risks of heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

“We’re beginning to realize that too much red meat is not good,” said Brown.

A nationwide “Meatless Monday” campaign encourages people to eat vegetarian at least once a week.

Trust a skinny chef

You can still get a burger on Mondays at Washington’s Nage Bistro, but chef Christopher Roberson also serves up hearty sandwiches of quinoa in a tangy sauce, and other meatless specialties.

Roberson said encouraging healthier eating means breaking some stereotypes.

“People say don’t trust a skinny chef. I say, don’t trust a big one. He’s going to do that to you,” he said.

Opposite trend globally

But while meatless meals are catching on in the U.S., the demand for meat in emerging economies has grown along with rising prosperity.

“In other parts of the developing world, meat consumption is rising very fast. Brazil would be a case in point,” said Lester Brown. “And in China we’ve seen enormous growth in meat consumption over the last couple of decades.”

Brazil ate 43 percent more meat in 2009 than two decades earlier, and China consumes 58 percent more, according to the most recent U.N. figures.

Extra Earth needed

But providing the grain and water to feed those livestock takes a huge amount of resources, raising concerns about sustainability.  

“If the entire world were to move up to the U.S. level of grain consumption, we’d certainly need two planets the size of this one, and maybe by now, three,” said Brown.

Joe Yonan said his decision to give up meat was personal. He has assured readers that it won’t affect his editorial judgement.

“I think meat can be beautiful. I think it can be delicious,” he said. “I just don’t want to eat it.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Patty
April 08, 2013 1:21 AM
With the rise in meat consumption in China the obesity and illness factors have gone through the roof - young children having to attend 'biggest loser' type gyms to lose the weight...meat consumption sucks on so many different levels.


by: Mary Finelli from: USA
April 04, 2013 1:31 PM
Thank you for this article!! There's nothing "beautiful" about meat if you realize what it entails. Going vegan is a win-win-win solution for animals, our health, and that of the planet. It's easier, tastier, and more compelling than ever.

In Response

by: Jana The Vegan Piranha from: Ohio
April 05, 2013 8:10 AM
Meat is beautiful when it's still on the animal. We have no right to exploit other species for our own temporal pleasures.


by: jc from: usa
April 03, 2013 9:59 PM
There are many reasons why the number of vegans has doubled in the US in less than 3 years. Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org/.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid