The long, sizzling love affair between America and meat may finally be cooling off, a new report reveals.
Two thirds of Americans said that they have cut back the amount of meat they eat, according to the results of a newly-published Johns Hopkins survey.
Public health officials and nutrition experts have been campaigning for people in the US to reduce their red and processed meat consumption for the last few years.
At long last, it seems the American public is starting to listen, for the sake of their hearts, waist lines and wallets.
Two thirds of America say that they are cutting back on their consumption of meat – especially red and processed meats – for the sake of their health and finances, a new study reveals
Second only to Australia, Americans have always eaten a lot of meat.
But red and processed meats contain a lot of saturated fat, which turns into an oily waxy substance that can line and block off blood vessels.
This in turn raises the risks of diabetes a and heart disease.
Studies conducted through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest that eating eating one additional serving of unprocessed red meat a day raises the risks of death by any cause by 13 percent.
For unprocessed meat, it’s a 20 percent increase in mortality risks.
But those alarming statistics – and warnings from major medical authorities like the American Heart Association (AHA) – have done little to curb meat consumption in the US.
When the housing bubble burst and the American economy entered a recession in 2008, meat consumption crashed too.
Annual intake continued to decline, reaching a 20-year low in 2014.
But beef, pork and chicken are back, and meat is expected to be a bigger business than ever this year.
Analysts estimate that the average American will eat a record-setting 222 lbs of meat over the course of this year.
‘Many Americans continue to have a strong preference for meat,’ says lead author of the new study, Dr Roni Neff.
‘But this survey adds to a growing body of evidence that a significant portion of the population may be purposefully reducing their meat consumption without becoming vegetarian or vegan.’
The survey results, gathered in 2015 but published yesterday in the journal Public Health Nutrition, seem to stand in opposition to the economic trends.
THE WESTERN DIET EXPLAINED
The Western diet is loosely defined as one full of fatty and sugary foods, such as burgers, fries and soda.
People often eat foods that are high in
- Saturated fats
- Red meats
- ‘Empty’ carbohydrates
- Junk Food
And low in
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole Grains
Health effects have been linked to things such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, colorectal cancer and dementia.
The same year that Johns Hopkins polled the American public on cutting back on meat, annual consumption started to climb back up, rising five percent after a seven-year decline.
Of the two-thirds of survey respondents who said they had been cutting back their meat purchasing, many said they were doing so to save money.
In fact, the people most likely to cut back on meat were those with relatively low incomes at $25,000 a year.
People in the highest-earning bracket, $75,000 or greater, on the other hand, were the least likely to cut back n their meat consumption.
The other most common reason was to try to incur health benefits, or at least protect against potential negative health effects of a diet too heavy in meats.
Only 12 percent of Americans said that they didn’t eat meat because of their concerns for animals or the environment.
Yet costs for all forms of meat – poultry, pork and beef – are falling, which Bloomberg analysts argue is partially driving annual consumption up.
Processed meat, at least, seems to have fallen largely out of favor. More than half of those Johns Hopkins surveyed said that they had cut food like hot dogs out of their diets while 41 percent said they’d scaled back their overall red meat intake.
Most cut back on red meat by substituting poultry and seafood, and only a small number (nine percent) gave it up altogether.
In place of traditional proteins, those who made meatless meals took instead vegetables, cheese and dairy and eggs.
Surprisingly, relatively few Americans report consuming many protein-rich non-meats, like beans, nuts tofu and imitation meats.
Those that continued to eat as much meat as ever said they believed that eating beef, pour or poultry was essential to their nutrition or that eating was just boring if it didn’t involved meat.
Still, in this first survey of its type, many Americans reported taking steps to cut back on meat by buying less, eating smaller portions of meat when they did indulge, and went meatless either on certain days or for certain meals.
‘Our survey results suggest that public health messages on the benefits of reducing red and processed meat consumption may be reaching and resonating with many US consumers, but more work remains to be done,’ Dr Neff said.
‘Priorities for meat reduction campaigns should include addressing common misperceptions about meatless meals, and promoting alternatives that consumers enjoy and that are affordable, healthy, and environmentally friendly.
‘They should emphasize that meatless meals can be interesting and taste good, and could also provide resources like recipes with other options.’