Meatless or just less meat?

By Marilee Griffin • Published: June 19th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

In America, a meal may not feel complete without meat somewhere on the table, but new statistics suggest daily meat consumption may go the way of bell-bottoms and Prohibition — for a variety of reasons.

While Americans still eat more meat than any other population on the globe, in recent years there’s been an unprecedented decline. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates a 12 percent decline in consumption of meat from 2007 to 2012, which means the average American’s annual consumption dropped by about 24pounds.

This phenomenon isn’t hogwash — there are several contributing causes. For one, meat prices are on the rise due to factors like drought and increased fuel costs. China and India are also importing more meat from the U.S., driving prices up at home.

Of course, more and more people are choosing to eat less meat for health-related, ethical and environmental reasons as well. Eating less meat without going vegetarian, sometimes called “flexitarianism,” is a consumer health trend that’s gaining steam. Flexitarians actively eat less meat, incorporating alternative protein sources like tempeh, beans, nuts, eggs and cheese.

Meatless Monday is similarly gaining popularity. This campaign advocates for going vegetarian one day a week to improve health.

Skipping meat once a week may reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Red meat in particular contains more cholesterol and saturated fat than chicken and fish; so, as more Americans become health conscious, it makes sense that our chicken consumption has surpassed beef for the first time in over a century.

Ifmore health-conscious Americans continue the trend of eatingless meat, plates across the United States could look very different in coming years.