Five Reasons to Eat Less Meat from Eleanor Boyle

by: Alina on 08/25/2014

Each year the average North American ingests well over 200 pounds of animal protein, and the global appetite for meat has also increased dramatically. But feeding our meat habit comes at tremendous cost. Maintaining our current level of consumption is ecologically impossible in the long-term, and undermines our personal health and community well-being.


credit: Peter Hellberg

Eleanor Boyle is a long-time educator and writer, who focuses on how we can make our food systems and meal choices sustainable, healthy and compassionate. Here are Eleanor’s 4 reasons for eating less meat from her book, High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat:


  1. “…Now I eat meat twice a day…. Year over year increases in meat consumption are particularly striking in developing and emerging economies. But for decades all over the world, people have been deriving more and more calories from animal products, and international meat production is predicted to more than double between 2000 and 2050. As one middle-aged Asian man remarked to me in conversation: ‘When I was a child, we ate meat twice a week. Now I eat it twice a day.”
  2. We’re climbing the food chain to dangerous heights: “Massive dietary change has been occurring for decades. Often called the “nutrition transition”, the shift sounds benign but describes the tendency for billions of people to choose fewer homegrown and traditional meals, more processed foods, sugars, fats, and salt, and considerably more meat, dairy products and fish … A friend likes to joke that he didn’t arrive at the top of the food chain in order to eat tofu. But are billions of humans climbing the food chain too high?”
  3. There’s a push for mass production and consumption: “Meat is widely available today—at the grocery store, the corner restaurant, and every fast-food chain—at relative prices below what previous generations paid … loads of meat at low prices is a result of the rise and industry dominance of factory farms.”
  4. Excessive supply drives excessive demand: “The livestock revolution is often labeled primarily “demand-driven,” implying that consumers have clamored for more, forcing producers to make more. But just as big consumption needs big production, so high-volume industrial production needs enthusiastic buyers. Once intensive livestock systems started churning out inexpensive meat, agribusiness needed customers to believe that meat was a daily essential.”

It’s not the cattle or the hogs that are the problem, but the number of them that now exist. The problem is not that we eat chicken, pork, or beef, but that we consume so


credit: Edna Winti

much of it. Making and eating small amounts can be good for the planet and human well-being, but today it’s a different story. A question of scale, meat is also on a weight scale being balanced against environment, health, and community.”


Read more in Eleanor Boyle's High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat





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