Americans still love their meat, but that bond may slowly be weakening. The Department of Agriculture predicts American meat consumption in 2012 will have fallen 12.2 percent since 2007 alone. Consumption of beef has fallen for the last twenty years, but drops in chicken and pork consumption represent new trends in the meat industry.
Why is this happening? There are any number of theories. Mark Bittman has an excellent column out that looks at many of them. Industry experts point to the rise in exports and higher global food costs (which means higher costs to produce the meat). They also accuse overly strict governmental policy as hurting their ability to sell meat. Bittman correctly points out the government has very laxly looked at the environmental impacts of livestock and has allowed farmers to use antibiotics on their animals. Hardly seems too strong.
Bittman has another explanation. He thinks the rise in "flexitarianism" (people who voluntarily eat less meat without fully going vegetarian) and the successful Meatless Monday campaigns have a lot more to do with the drop in meat consumption.
What do you think?