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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid