Americans’ appetite for meat may be on the decline, according to industry reports. While consumption is still higher than many health experts recommend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that we will be eating about 12% less beef, pork and poultry in 2012 than we did five years ago.
There are lots of factors at work. “We’re eating less meat because we want to eat less meat,” observes food columnist Mark Bittman of The New York Times. Health concerns play a role; a recent AllRecipes.com poll found that a third of home cooks are using less meat in their recipes, and 80% of them are doing it for their health. This kind of “flexitarian” approach – eating less meat and more whole grains and vegetables – is growing in popularity; The Values Institute (TVI), a market research consultancy, predicts that this style of eating will be one of the top wellness trends of 2012.
Both Bittman and TVI point to the Meatless Monday movement as proof that Americans are making a personal choice to cut back. “One of the best evidences of this [health] trend,” reports TVI, “is the growing popularity and social media following of the nonprofit Meatless Monday initiative, developed in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.”
The trend is impressive when you consider that pork, turkey and chicken consumption either rose or remained steady for nearly 25 years. “A 12 percent reduction in just five years is significant,” muses Bittman “and if that decline were to continue for the next five years- well, that’s something few would have imagined five years ago.”