How Much Meat Do We Eat?

by updated 2009/03/28

choice 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.

Will Sig
1 Steve

hey Will,
Your title reminded me of Pink Floyd for some reason…
“How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”
Maybe I need to get more sleep.
But to answer your question, we eat mainly chicken, not much red meat, and should eat more fish. I love fish, but have yet to master how to cook it… I’m not sure how much we eat, except that our kids don’t seem to eat much of anything. I think they absorb their calories via the air.
And I think most Americans would do well to just eat less of everything. :) ~ Steve, the need-more-sleep trade show guru

Steves last blog post..Green Trade Show Displays

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2 Joey Logano

Humm as far as my consumption of meat, I don’t think I over do it, actually its always been a spike of up and down, some weeks I may eat more of it, some weeks I may not. It all depends really what is in the fridge at the time, or what I get the chance to eat, lol.

Joey Loganos last blog post..Career Nationwide Stats

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3 wilson

Will, I didn’t mean to make you scare, but according to the latest healthy report, those people that consuming meats daily will have higher chance of getting cancers than those that taking meats once or twice per month!

Though, for the shake of our health, it’s better to reduce the amount of meats in our daily life…

wilsons last blog post..Earth Hour – Have You Signed Up Yet?

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4 ringenvy

Eating read meat is really not good for health and your joints especially .

Meat takes 24 hours to digest and is really heavy on the body’s digestive system !

ringenvys last blog post..Tacori 2510!!!

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5 Joey Logano

Earth hour…. just about everything in this world nowadays they say it gives the chance of getting cancer. So why worry about it? Heck the computers we are using right now are supposed to give us a chance at cancer too, *knocks on wood*.

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6 Bob

Hey I probably eat that much a year, seems about right, I love red meat even though it’s not good for me, not afraid of red meat but I am afraid of flying, guess what has a better chance of getting me killed,lol.

Bobs last blog post..Nuclear Moon

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7 Anna

I should go back to my bills and check out how much meat we eat. When I cook at home, like you, we tend to eat more vegetables. But we do definitely eat more chicken than other, then fish, and beaf comes last. Pork we just don’t eat at all, I think I read too much about pork and tape worm stories, lol. And wow to 200 lbf, that is almost like eathing whole pig! Anna :)

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8 Shanavas

Eating meat on a regular basis is not good for the health. I used to consume lot of meat earlier which I reduced to once in a week.

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9 Emiel Driesten

Hi, I live in the Netherlands. I recently discovered that eating meat is, perhaps not al that good for the human body, but the damage it does for nature is much bigger. It seems a cow needs relatively (not because its bigger than a human) four times more grain to exist than a human does. And because there is no room left in the US or in Russia, and the demand gets stronger because humankind is still growing, big chunks of tropical forest with all its diversity gets chopped to place monoculture, which needs a whole lot of big machinery to maintain, which on its turn uses enormous amounts of petrol. So the effect it has for us to eat, relatively to much meat is that there will be a decrease in fresh air and useful creatures en plants.
I think there will be a change in the way we relate us to nature in the next 100 years or so, it is simply not possible to exist as a humankind if we keep living like this.

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10 Leila

Animals aren’t the only thing that creates monocultures. Land with crops are huge monocultures and anything that enters that land gets shot by the farmers. We need to cut down out meat intake and stop relying so heavily on cattle but blaming environmental problems entirely on meat is ridiculous. Crop farmers are equally guilty.

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11 Will W.

Vegan.

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12 Laura Moon

i was just wondering where you got your statistics and if you were talking about only red meat or processed meat, or both?

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13 Gary

Since I stopped eating meat in ’93, I’ve been eating about 1000 bananas a years….. 500 apples, 300 mangos, 100 melons, 1000 carrots. U get the idea. Check this dudes video about his primate diet:
Gary recently posted..Individual Video Program- one year laterMy Profile

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14 aleisha

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yBJHX1C6n8
please watch this video to see how animals we eat are treated.

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15 Jason

We are extremely close genetically to the apes from which we decend. In some cases, we share 99% in common with theirs. In this case, it’s clear that we should follow a similar diet. They mainly eat fruit, sometimes leaves, and very rarely meat. They evolved to eat a healthy diet with enough protein for growth, but none more than neccesary. We too should do this to maintain healthy digestion, and a healthy environment.

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16 Will

I think you are correct, Jason. Except I believe I have heard that sometimes Chimpanzees kill and eat rival tribe members!

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17 Alyssa

Will,
Great article, I just completed an independent study all about the sustainability of meat and used your 240lbs figure to help me figure out just how much meat in consumed by America. You should check out the book CAFO Reader. It is a bit one sided, but their information is spot on & is drawn from many reliable sources (all of which are available on health science search engines).
Keep ‘um coming!

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18 Will

Thanks Alyssa! Your latest post looks like a great recipe. I sometimes have trouble getting wheat berries to cook correctly but your photos of the pumpkin seeds have me drooling.k

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19 Alyssa

Thank you too. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but it’s all about the microwave when it comes to wheat berries (I’ve had the same problems when cooking them on the stove)!

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20 Madi

When was they date of publication of this article. I am doing a research paper and need that information.

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21 Will

Hi Madi – Does the date not show for you? I would be interested in knowing if it does not as it is supposed to. The article was originally published 2+ years ago. Updated 7 months ago. Comments are right up to one month before yours.

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22 BB

There are 2 adults in my household. The only meat we eat is boneless, skinless, chicken and ground pork. We have 2 completely meatless days a week; sometimes we have 3 or 4. On the days we eat meat, it is only for one meal and 1 pound of meat usually makes our meals for 2 days. All of our meals are made at home because we both have to know that our food is clean.

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