Interestingly this specific question is one that I had not paid attention to until now. I have heard and seen it said many times that a small reduction in consumption would have big positive effects. In a post about Flexitarians, eating less meat is mentioned, but how much we actually eat is not. The meat usually referred to is beef because supposedly that is the main meat consumed in developed countries. I actually thought chicken was at number one? And certainly in India, it would not be beef. Anyway to address the question in the post title, the amount is staggering.
The average U.S. resident eats over 200 pounds of meat per year, or more than 1/2 pound per day!
Just like in the TV watching discussion, this figure takes into account everyone, vegetarians, and people like me that probably eat much less than 50 pounds a year. The average for non-vegetarians must be much, much higher. The idea is that if the average meat eater could cut out one or two servings of meat a week, it would have a very positive environmental effect. This would be by reducing the amount of hormones and antibiotics released during the production and consumption of meat, and by reducing other waste products of the meat production industry. In the case of cattle, it would also supposedly reduce the amount of land utilized by the production of beef. This is questionable to me because I thought these days most cattle are raised in feed lots, crowded into as little space as possible.
So, how much do you think you eat? What do you think of this statistic? I probably eat a serving of fish once or twice a week. I may have chicken once a week and beef maybe 3 or 4 times a month. I eat lamb or pork probably 3 or 4 times a year. I don’t consider myself to be limiting my meat eating, these numbers are just what happen naturally when I eat what I like. Maybe the fact that almost everything I eat, I prepare myself has an influence? Maybe because I love to garden, I have become accustomed to eating lots of vegetables. My wife eats much less meat than I do. All three of my kids also eat less meat that I do. My youngest daughter seems to eat almost none.
More research is wanted here. I have always been an advocate of humane treatment of farm animals and raising animals without antibiotics or hormones. I also like the idea of eating beef and chicken that have been allowed to “graze”. In addition I strongly believe we should not be eating farm raised fish. Although these last points can mean eating a healthier meat, the healthier and more humane production methods may not be more environmentally friendly. This, I believe, is the crux of the argument that the only way to make meat production less damaging to the environment is to eat less meat.