Despite the Trendiness of Plant-Based Diets, Americans Are Eating More Meat Than Ever
Yes, there is plenty of buzz around new plant-based products like the Impossible Burger and new forms of alternative milk. In fact, vegan and vegetarian items are more popular in the United States than ever before. But Americans are still slated to eat more meat this year than ever—more than 220 pounds of red meat and poultry per person, on average—beating a record previously set in 2004.
For the first time, 100 billion pounds of meat will be produced by the end of this year, partly due to cheaper production costs and higher export demand, according to Bloomberg.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, lower prices at grocery stores will encourage Americans to buy more meat than before, whereas general supply of meat is abundant due to the lower cost of feed grain and livestock production materials. Data shows that shoppers are enjoying the lowest prices on chicken breasts in a span of five years, and steak and ham are also at more affordable price points—the same is true for eggs.
The rise in overall consumption of protein could be linked to popular diets like the Dukan Diet, or those that focus on protein rather than carbs—but official federal guidelines suggest that an average adult consume no more than 6.5 ounces of protein each day. USDA data suggests that the average home cook could be eating upwards of 10 ounces of meat per day this year.
Despite low prices, more people might be inclined to reduce how much meat they're eating if they were required to face where the meat is actually coming from—which is to say if they had to harvest it themselves.
A new survey from Cherry Digital, a public relations agency, asked 2,500 meat eaters from across all 50 states if knowing how the animal was raised and slaughtered would change their habits.
Thinking of giving up meat? Read these first:
Nearly half of those surveyed said they wouldn't eat meat if they had to butcher the animal at home—of those who said they would, 68 percent were men whereas only 34 percent were women. These numbers actually correlate with existing data on who is most likely to stick to a vegetarian diet in the U.S.: 59 percent of vegetarians are women, whereas 41 percent are men. If you're interested, you can see a state-by-state breakdown of who would be more likely to give up meat if they had to harvest it themselves:
Cherry Digital's survey also reveals that more Americans would be willing to alter their diet to go meatless at least two days a week. This correlates with the uptick in popularity of plant-based eating. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said they would consider what's commonly referred to as a "flexitarian" diet: Primarily eating a vegetarian diet, with the occasional meat or fish dish included. Luckily, that turns out to be much healthier.
The bottom line: While Americans seem to be relying more on meat than ever, the growth of plant-based items is also just as strong: Sources of alternative proteins is one of this year's top trends, and we can expect to only see growth for meat-free items in the future.