Americans still eat a lot of meat, but it is starting to look like they are eating less:
WASHINGTON — For the first time on record, U.S. per-capita meat consumption has declined for four consecutive years, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The six percent drop between 2006 and 2010 is the largest sustained decline since recordkeeping began in 1970.
Reasons for the decline are at least partly economic: rising prices and a bad U.S. economy have made meat less affordable for American consumers.
But there are intriguing signs that a cultural shift may be underway, as well…[snip]
…While about seven percent of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians, it’s the “flexitarians” – people who eat occasional meatless meals – that market research firms have just begun to explore.
One such firm, Packaged Facts, found that eating along the “meatless spectrum” is popular among college students, who will carry those eating habits into their adult years.
“Young people today are just not so meat-and-potatoes oriented as earlier generations were,” said environmental researcher Lester Brown at the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute.
That’s encouraging, because sometimes cultural changes can hit a tipping point that creates a true shift. But according to Lester Brown we’d still need two or three Earths to meet the demand for grain and water if the rest of the world ate meat like Americans. So this chart is important to keep in mind, too:
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