By Erica Beauplan
The “Great Meat Debate” has been fought fiercely throughout time between sworn carnivores and devout vegetarians. However, in this day and age, it seems the fight is not as black and white as it once was. The emergence of many new schools of thought in reference to eating patterns has created a gray area. Vegans, pescatarians, and flexitarians to name a few, have all entered the arena to pitch their approach to this age-old dilemma: “To eat, or not to eat…meat.”
Despite your position on meat consumption, it must be agreed that the consumption of meet has become somewhat of a problem in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States leads the rest of the world by being the top consumer of meats in total, when combining the reported categories of beef and veal, pork, and poultry. According to the Population Reference Bureau, in mid 2009, the population of the United States hovered around 306.8 million, while that of the entire continent of Africa was about one billion.
When it came down to consumption of any of the reported categories of meat, any countries not in the top 11 of consumers for that particular commodity were lumped into the group “other countries.” The continent of Africa was in this group for each meat product. The United States, with its much smaller population, was, however, always on top, except in the case of pork. Even the United States being number four on the list, its consumers surpassed the pork consumption of the “other countries” category by 2,174,000 metric tons.
Many factors can be attributed to the consumption of meat. There are those factors that are controlled by individuals, and those that are controlled by the world market. Meat tends to cost more in the national market than agricultural crops, creating an economic difference in its likelihood for purchase.
No matter what the case may be, in the end, meat consumption comes down to choice. And it seems like individuals in the United States have chosen to consume far too much of it. In 2009, the amount of beef and veal consumed in the United States was almost 441 pounds per person, per year, or about 1.2 pounds of meat per person per day. The recommended meat intake guideline for a man who is 51 years of age or older, which happens to be the highest amount recommended to any group according to the United States Dietary Guideline for 2011, is 0.12 pounds. We are eating at least ten times the recommended meat intake.
Don’t think your eating too much meat? The fact of the matter is that meat has become so ingrained into our diets that we unknowingly consume it as part of almost every meal. Meat has moved from being a supplementary food item to the primary focus of our plates. Obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease are all related to meat consumption because many meat products contain a large amount of cholesterol.
So what can you do about it? Becoming a vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian or pescatarian may or may not work for you. If it does, fantastic! But if your heart is not in it, then don't t force it. Instead, try to be more conscious when making food choices by adopting these tips to your diet choices:
- Try not to consume meat at every single meal of the day, that omelet will still taste fantastic without the extra pieces of chopped sausage inside.
- You can never eat too many veggies.
- If you absolutely cannot let go of that drumstick, try picking the least offensive form! It is annoying to hear another person tell you that grilled is better, however the truth is the truth!Try switching it up a bit. Beef everyday is not good. Give some variety a chance by using different kinds of meats in your cooking.
- Remember, moderation is key and your body is your temple. Everything you put inside of it counts and can catch up with you in the future!