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.
    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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.