Americans Are Eating Way Less Beef

Medium rare grilled Beef steak with herb butter on fork on dark background

Medium rare grilled Beef steak with herb butter on fork on dark background

Photo by: Lisovskaya Natalia ©(c) Lisovskaya Natalia

Lisovskaya Natalia, (c) Lisovskaya Natalia

Where’s the beef? It’s not on Americans’ plates as much as it used to be.

United States consumers ate 19 percent less beef in 2014 than they did in 2005, according to a new report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The NRDC calculates that Americans’ reduction in U.S. beef consumption shrank their carbon footprint as much as they would have had they eliminated the annual tailpipe emissions of 39 million cars.

While Americans also lowered the amount of other foods, such as orange juice, pork, plain whole milk, chicken and high-fructose corn syrup, over the same period of time, the reduction in all other foods combined accounted for only about the equivalent of 18 million cars’ worth of emissions, according to the NRDC.

Still, even though Americans are eating less beef, it remains the leading U.S. dietary contributor to climate-warming pollution, accounting for about 34 percent of food-production-related emissions in 2014. The production of one kilogram of beef releases an additional 26 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the environment.

What’s more, the organization noted, at the same time they were eschewing all those steaks and burgers, Americans increased their consumption of other carbon-intensive foods, like cheese, yogurt and butter, and so partially offset the pollution reduction they scored from eating less beef.

As for why Americans are eating less beef, theories differ. The market research firm Mintel cites a combination of “health, environmental and even cost concerns” as reasons that U.S. consumers are swapping red meat, including beef, for other sorts of proteins. But the trade group National Cattleman’s Beef Association told the New York Times that lower beef consumption was due to a decline in supply and greater competition from other meats, such as chicken and pork.

Then again, they definitely have a steak in this game.

Photo: iStock

Keep Reading

Next Up

10 Ways To Eat Less Meat

Some cuts of meat, full fat dairy products and other high fat ingredients are oftentimes used in cooking to add texture, flavor and mouth feel. Problem is you might be adding artery clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. There are plenty of meatless options you can use that’ll even surprise your taste buds. Here are 10 ideas.

Americans Are Cooking More Meals at Home, Eating Out Less

Are Netflix, pre-made meals and online grocery delivery to blame?

All-American Eats

This weekend, cook up a spread of all-American eats to celebrate the 4th of July. Food Network's patriotic menu boasts hot dogs, potato salad and blueberry pie.

Can You Eat Your Way to a Younger You?

Author of the book Younger Next Week says you can turn back the clock in just 7 days.

5 Ways to Overcome Emotional Eating

Eating for emotional reasons (stress, happiness) can become a habit that will eventually lead to weight gain. Use these 5 tactics to gain control.

Ways to Prevent Kids from Eating Junk On Vacation

Planning a vacation soon? Here's how to avoid a junk food overload while you're away.

4 Ways to Eat (Yes, Eat!) Flowers

These blooms aren't just beautiful — they pack a serious nutritional punch too.

12 Ways to Eat Cherries

In addition to being sweet and juicy (or tart and mouthwatering, depending on the variety), cherries have a lot of health benefits as well. They’re rich in heart-healthy anthocyanins and potassium, plus sleep-promoting melatonin.

Your Favorite Ways to Eat Zucchini

We asked you on Twitter and Facebook to tell us your favorite ways to eat zucchini; here's a round-up of the best ideas.