Meat Consumption Declining

Meat-eating in the US has declined four years in a row and five out of the last six years, according to the Daily Livestock Report. Per person meat, poultry and fish consumption reached its maximum in 2004 at 237.5 pounds, and is now down to 224 pounds. (They say 2004 was the peak year in popularity for high protein diets such as Atkins.)

Beef consumption apparently was nearly as low in 2010 as it was in 1958. Pork consumption was also down, but not as much as beef. One reason for the meat consumption decline is increasing grain prices, and they implicate government support for biofuels, which probably means ethanol. Corn grown for ethanol is used to feed livestock sometimes, but it typically is not used to feed people, as is commonly held, so growing it does not take food away from humans. Is is it truly biofuels that are making grain prices higher and reducing meat consumption?

Probably not as much as the global recession that affected many countries around the world. Also awareness of climate change – a global problem that is altering weather and habitats for wild animals and plants – must be changing attitudes.

If you aren’t already aware of the very large contribution livestock agriculture plays in climate change, it has been documented that emissions from farm animals generate up to 51 percent of human-related climate change gases. Many people today have heard CO2 is a major climate change gas, but actually methane contributes to climate change 20-23 times more.

Cows are one of the major sources of methane emissions. Therefore beef eating by consumers supports methane emissions, because buying beef to eat helps maintain high beef production levels. The EPA says there are 1.2 billion large ruminants in the world, and they emit a great deal of methane. Much wild habitat is also converted to use for commercial cattle ranches. For example, cattle ranching is a large source of deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil. These wild areas are some of richest in biodiversity in the world. Destroying them to make way for methane-generating cows is doubly tragic.

Image Credit: USDA

Related Links
20 Billion Farm Animals Killed 2010-2011
Harp Seals Declining Due to Climate Change


Ruth P.
Ruth P5 years ago

I hope it continues. :)

Sonja T.
Sonja T5 years ago

GOOD. Meat is not necessary in anybody's diet.

Laura Jobe
Laura Jobe5 years ago

No one NEEDS to eat meat!!!

R Anna M.
Renata B5 years ago

Hurray! In the UK, in 2011, the Vegan Society has received more than 2,000 requests to take the vegan pledge and almost all they remain vegan ever after. Then there are those who just become vegan and do not ask anything to anyone.
This is why some people get so agitated and abusive against vegan: they feel they are quickly becoming dinosaurs! :-)

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

Though this is probably due mostly to the economy, I'm still glad of the decline!

paula eaton
paula eaton5 years ago

Good. In europe meat consumption is up. Meat is bad for the animal, environment and consumers. Pretty soon horsemeat will be available, please do not consume them.

janet f.
janet f5 years ago

Every little bit helps.

Heather B.
Heather Bosa5 years ago

I hope it continues to decline!

John S.
Past Member 5 years ago

That still .4 times higher than it should be (.68 pounds per day per person = 9.8 once, while most "diets allow 2 onc e). Better off buying better, more expensive meat in correct portions (organic if you can).

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe5 years ago

I think the economy has a lot more to do with it than they think.