Why Do People Eat (So Much) Meat?—And How Can We Eat (Much) Less?

Keywords: Meat Consumption, Review, Historical Consumption


First paragraphs:

Humans eat a lot of meat! According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the annual consumption of meat globally in 2013 was 106 lbs. (48 kg) per capita, up from 56 lbs. (25 kg) in 1961 (FAO, 2018). This amount is projected to increase by between 75% and 145% by 2050 (Godfray et al., 2018), due to the strong correlation between increasing per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) and increasing per-capita meat consump­tion (Tilman and Clark, 2014). And to provide this meat (along with other animal products), there are about 30 billion livestock animals in the world at any given time—four times the number of humans; over 160 billion livestock are slaughtered annually, half of these poultry (FAO, 2018). No wonder that meat’s impact on our planet and our lives is so large.

The implied question permeating Wilson Warren’s book is “Why do we eat so much meat?” The title suggests one answer—the belief that Meat Makes People Powerful—and the text makes clear that this is in terms of health, culture, and economics. The final chapters ask a further question—How can we stop eating so much meat? They describe the major role that meat is playing in anthropogenic climate change and environmental pollution in general, as well as in the current global noncommunicable disease pandemic. They also discuss the over­whelm­ingly negative effects of meat consumption on animal welfare and on social equity. . . .

Author Biography

David Cleveland, University of California, Santa Barbara

Research Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and the Geography Department

Cover of "Meat Makes People Powerful" by Wilson J. Warren
How to Cite
Cleveland, D. (2019). Why Do People Eat (So Much) Meat?—And How Can We Eat (Much) Less?. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 8(4), 1-4. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2019.084.016