The Frontal Cortex

Crazy Meat Facts

From Steven Shapin’s recent New Yorker article on the history of vegetarianism:

A recent report by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization reckons that at least eighteen per cent of the global-warming effect comes from livestock, more than is caused by all the world’s transportation systems.

The number of vegetarians in developed countries is evidently on the increase, but the world’s per-capita consumption of meat rises relentlessly: in 1981, it was 62 pounds per year; in 2002, the figure stood at 87.5 pounds. In carnivorous America, it increased from 238.1 to 275.1 pounds, and the practice is spreading in traditionally herbivorous Asia. Indians’ meat consumption has risen from 8.4 to 11.5 pounds since 1981; in China, it has increased from 33.1 to an astonishing 115.5 pounds.

I can’t believe the average American eats three-quarters of a pound of meat every day. That’s gross. On a related note, did you know that meat is the most shoplifted item in American supermarkets?


  1. #1 Karen
    January 19, 2007

    I can’t believe the average American eats three-quarters of a pound of meat every day. That’s gross.

    I can believe it, and it’s one of the causes of the obesity epidemic. A big deli sandwich at lunch, and a nice big steak for dinner will easily add up to 3/4 lb. or more. Furthermore, the person eating that will feel that it’s healthy — after all, a deli sandwich is much better than a burger for lunch, and the steak was grilled, not fried.

  2. #2 Gray
    January 20, 2007

    So meat is up. I remember reading about methane gases adding to the greenhouse affect. What I read was also more astonishing in that cows, beef on four legs, releases huge amounts (gallons) of methane each day.

    Further, even the most petite among us as humans, beef on two legs, releases, on average, 4.5 gallons of methane per day. Scary, we are eating more meat, and in feeding that meat to fatten it up, it is producing more methane, and then we are contributing as well.

    And by the way, all forms of food, carbs, proteins, and fats, will if taken in over the amount needed, will be converted and stored as adipose. Meat, protein, is not a wrongful part of our diet.

    But just like the man said “know thyself” and “Nothing in Excess”.

  3. #3 Lish
    January 20, 2007

    Interesting facts. Conventional wisdom suggests meat was the catalyst for at least one jump in human history. I would be curious to see if these spikes in meat consumption correlate to a nation’s economy at all. That is, does a prosperous nation eat more and more meat? The China number alone makes me think this, that’s a huge increase even for twenty years.

  4. #4 Joe Buck
    January 21, 2007

    I understand that the cows produce the methane because they’re being fed corn, which they did not evolve to eat, and that grass-fed cows are much less gassy. But I don’t know if anyone has done the measurements.

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