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We're eating less meat. Why?
January 13, 2012 2:10 PM   Subscribe

We're Eating Less Meat. Why? by Mark Bittman (via Ta-Nehesi Coates)
posted by flex (151 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's blowback against the hipster bacon craze.
posted by perhapses at 2:20 PM on January 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Because we're eating more beets?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:22 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm definitely eating less meat and more beets. Meat is expensive and beets are good for my various stress related health problems. Both are tasty.
posted by yeolcoatl at 2:24 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know about everyone else, but I'm eating less beef because of mad cow and the issues raised by it. And I'm eating less meat because I'm finding other things (like cheese and tomatoes) far more yummy. Plus meat takes time to cook. Time that I don't necessarily have.
posted by DU at 2:26 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how I show up in the stats given that I've stopped buying meat at the grocery store and have developed relationships with a couple of farmers market meat vendors.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:29 PM on January 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


I used to hate beets when I was a vegetarian. Now that I eat some meat (poultry and fish), I love beets. Nothing better than roasted beet salad. Meat led to beets. Beats move my feet.
posted by perhapses at 2:31 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


In the building I work in there are about 100 people. 4 vegans and well over a dozen vegetarians. 10 years ago there were no vegetarians or vegans period.
posted by mikehipp at 2:31 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


But I bet you're not eating as much meat as you were before, Space Coyote. No?

I eat vegetarian once weekly (although most of my breakfasts and lunches are vegetarian). Definitely I'm eating less on account of having to watch my diet more closely. Bittman didn't mention demographics as a thing, here: older folks are generally encouraged to eat less meat to avoid heart issues & ye olde Type 2. Not sure how important that is. It's worthy of further study.
posted by zomg at 2:34 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm eating more meat, because I stopped eating beef for a really long time, but a few months ago I started to develop a mild shrimp allergy, which when added to my already existing fin-fish allergy pissed me off enough that I said, "Screw it; I'm getting a cheeseburger."

Since then I've had beef about once a week. Earlier today I had my first In-N-Out cheeseburger in over a decade. Damn, it was good.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:34 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The BSE thing hammered the British beef industry. 176 people have been recognised as dying from the human form in the UK in the 22 years since 1990. Over 1000 die from falling down stairs EVERY YEAR. People have no idea how to assess risk, and scaremongering media don't help.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Cooked lean hamburger tastes like rubber bands; cooked lean beef tastes like cardboard. Chicken breast tastes like condensed toilet paper. Pork chops taste like greasy armpits. etc.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know a lot of people who do not consider themselves vegetarian and yet choose to eat little meat.

Which I think is an increasingly common dietary choice.
posted by entropone at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Because vegetables are delicious.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


We're lucky in that one of the local supermarket chains here in Canada has started stocking fresh sardines, and frozen mackerel. So cheap! So good!
posted by KokuRyu at 2:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm eating more meat, because I stopped eating beef for a really long time, but a few months ago I started to develop a mild shrimp allergy, which when added to my already existing fin-fish allergy pissed me off enough that I said, "Screw it; I'm getting a cheeseburger."

Yup. I eat more meat because I'm allergic to so many other things.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:37 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know a lot of people who do not consider themselves vegetarian and yet choose to eat little meat.

That's my wife and me. And I had just assumed that there were so many people like us that there really didn't need to be a word for it. But apparently there is, and it's "flexitarian". Because there needs to be a word for everything.

And because it doesn't have the marketing arm of an industry behind it, it's a stupid word.
posted by gurple at 2:39 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


My freezer's packed with pork and pork products from pigs I raised, and with venison that a friend gave to us. Six turkeys are still waiting to be butchered. The pheasant? Yeah, gotta find something to do with that. It's an elegant sufficiency of tasty non-factory, non-slaughterhouse meat. All I buy is chicken and yes, I'm about to take a pastured poultry course. I'm still paying for meat, just not buying it in the traditional way, for the most part.

That said, my husband and I are new converts to roasted vegetables. Three or four times a week, we turn to each other and say "Hey, I have an idea....let's have Brussels sprouts!" Or kale. Or mustard greens (our least favorite). Our local produce stock clerk thinks we're insane because we buy six bunches of kale at a whack. We've found that roasting greens is quicker than defrosting and cooking meat, and that the meal itself (yup, kale for dinner!) is filling and satisfying. Meat has become less important as veggies have been in the ascendant. We won't talk about my little problem with rice wine vinegar on greens, om nom nom...
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:39 PM on January 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Mackerel is one of the highly contaminated fish for a number of reasons, sardines are better lower on the chain and not very old when caught.
posted by stbalbach at 2:40 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jews eat fruit. Non-Jews eat vegetables--Lenny Bruce
posted by Postroad at 2:40 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fact: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Luxembourg consumes more meat per capita than any other country.

Fact: The World Bank ranks Luxembourg as having the highest per capita income in the world.

Hypothesis: Luxembourg is actually one giant country club where citizens indulge themselves daily on the finest cuts money can buy while eschewing vegetarian dishes as commoner's gruel.
posted by Winnemac at 2:41 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


We're Eating Less Meat. Why?

Because we can't possibly eat much more meat than we did at our peak.

I mean, after you've invented a pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni and pepperoni stuffed in the crust, there's no place to go but down.
posted by deanc at 2:42 PM on January 13, 2012 [53 favorites]



Hypothesis: Luxembourg is actually one giant country club where citizens indulge themselves daily on the finest cuts money can buy while eschewing vegetarian dishes as commoner's gruel.
posted by Winnemac at 2:41 PM on January 13 [+] [!]


In my experience that is true.
I only saw one poor person in Luxembourg, and I suspect that he was probably just an eccentric billionaire.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


KokuRyu: Cooked lean hamburger tastes like rubber bands; cooked lean beef tastes like cardboard. Chicken breast tastes like condensed toilet paper. Pork chops taste like greasy armpits. etc.

Can't tell if trolling, or a poor cook...
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2012 [30 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if McDonald's and other fast foods are to blame. I suspect that there's much less meat (and more "meat") in a burger than there used to be.

But I eat more meat than ever, at least 1 chicken breast per day. Delicious.
posted by coolguymichael at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every vegetable contains anti-nutrients, plants evolved not to be eaten. They also tend to have lots of one nutrient and few of another. So vegetables are best with variety, many types, low quantity of each. You spread out the good things and keep the bad things in check. If your vegetables amount to piles of one type like broccoli and beans, it's not ideal as a primary food.
posted by stbalbach at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


KokuRyu: Cooked lean hamburger tastes like rubber bands; cooked lean beef tastes like cardboard. Chicken breast tastes like condensed toilet paper. Pork chops taste like greasy armpits. etc.

Can't tell if trolling, or a poor cook...


Gotta be trolling. Even a poor cook will eat food prepared by competent cooks, and find the falsity of that statement proven instantly and repeatedly.
posted by kafziel at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, after you've invented a pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni and pepperoni stuffed in the crust, there's no place to go but down.

There is still away to go. We haven't yet replaced the normal pizza sauce with meat sauce, nor have we replaced the pizza crust with a giant piece of pepperoni.
posted by asnider at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


In the building I work in there are about 100 people. 4 vegans and well over a dozen vegetarians. 10 years ago there were no vegetarians or vegans period.

I think these percentages are about the same in the building where I work as well.

IT'S THE BUILDINGS!
posted by perhapses at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


176 people have been recognised as dying from the human form in the UK in the 22 years since 1990. Over 1000 die from falling down stairs EVERY YEAR. People have no idea how to assess risk, and scaremongering media don't help.

The generous interpretation is that you're not very familiar with the BSE outbreak.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is still away to go. We haven't yet replaced the normal pizza sauce with meat sauce, nor have we replaced the pizza crust with a giant piece of pepperoni.

God I'm hungry...
posted by MangyCarface at 2:51 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


How many cows have died from falling down stairs?
posted by perhapses at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Enough that they've stopped trying to climb them.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 2:54 PM on January 13, 2012 [17 favorites]


It's definitely not the US Government's "War on Meat", because then it would be as successful as the war on drugs, the war on terrorism...
posted by MtDewd at 2:54 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I think the simply conclusion of this article -- that we're eating less meat because we want to -- is pretty spot on. The more interesting question, which Bittman only briefly touches upon, is why do we want to eat less meat?
posted by asnider at 2:56 PM on January 13, 2012


I eat less meat because I have an awesome copy of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman.
posted by LionIndex at 2:57 PM on January 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


We could cut back on junk food, or shirts or iPhones, which have a very high meat-equivalent, to coin a term. Yet even though excess supply kept chicken prices lower than the year before, demand dropped.

Bittman introduces earlier in the article this:

"we spend a smaller percentage of our money on food than any other country"

To me, Bittman has set it up perfectly but missed his point; people treat junk food, shirts and iPhones as necessary items in our conspicuous consumption society, which is why their elasticity is lower. Fresh meat, fresh food even, has a much higher elasticity.

I'd like to see how other food has changed during the same period, because I'd wager a guess that things like cheap pasta, or frozen dinners, or other low-cost high-calorie food have actually seen increased demand as people's scaled back budgets find ways to work around their iPhones. What is actually a "luxury" item is not actually how the market treats them; we're often willing to sacrifice our basic necessities to satisfy urges, which is why we spend less money on food than any other country in the first place.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 2:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Part of the reason why would be the amount of attention vegetarian diets have received over the past few decades, both in popular media and through public health campaigns. As pointed out in a recent thread (the NYT reporter in the Midwest), it's much easier to find vegetarian options when eating out these days.
posted by perhapses at 3:03 PM on January 13, 2012


People are listening the the Smiths more.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:04 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


It might be a continuing trend until the deadly Beet virus outbreak in 2015.

New Animal Virus Takes Northern Europe by Surprise
posted by perhapses at 3:07 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now, what could have happened between 2007 and now to cause Americans to eat less meat? It must be the Meatless Monday campaign. After all, we could all still afford meat if we just cut back on Iphones.

If, as he argues, we're not cutting back on junk food, it probably means that Americans are replacing meat with cheap refined carbs, and he sees this as something that we "should celebrate." Bittman again shows himself to be utterly out of touch with both the lives of ordinary Americans and current science.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:09 PM on January 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


KokuRyu: Cooked lean hamburger tastes like rubber bands; cooked lean beef tastes like cardboard. Chicken breast tastes like condensed toilet paper. Pork chops taste like greasy armpits. etc.

You're doing it wrong.

That said, I also eat less meat. Mostly because I care about the quality and history of my meat. So I only eat meats that meet my stringent standards for how the animals have been raised and fed. These tend to be harder to find and somewhat more expensive on average. Since I'm not willing to compromise I end up eating less meat and less often. I have observed similar behavior among my friends. Everybody is rather grossed out by and suspicious of your average supermarket factory meat products and they'd rather just not eat any of it.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:13 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sure, we're eating less meat, but we're also getting fatter. Newflash Mr. Bittman: The obesity rate is still on the rise, and it ain't because Americans are shoveling down T-bone steaks.

If you're replacing meat with tofu dogs, or pasta salad, or even his beloved rice n' beans, which insulin-resistant and prediabetic folks won't do so well with, you're not doing yourself any favors. The majority of Americans would greatly benefit from eating more meat, or at least from replacing the junk carbs they consume with unprocessed, whole food protein sources.

I'm not sure I can take Bittman seriously anymore with all the crap he spouts about vegatarianism backed by zero references. It's irresponsible of him to talk like he's some sort of expert in this field. Stick to recipes, Mark!
posted by sunnychef88 at 3:13 PM on January 13, 2012 [23 favorites]


A song about the coming vegetable revolution, for your edification and emancipation.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:14 PM on January 13, 2012


I only eat animals that have been killed by Mark Zuckerberg.
posted by box at 3:14 PM on January 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


(actually starts at like 3:45)
posted by kaibutsu at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2012


Hairy Lobster, are you saying that your friends tend to be harder to find and somewhat more expensive so you eat them less often? I understand, believe me.
posted by perhapses at 3:17 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


perhapses: "It's blowback against the hipster bacon craze."

I was into bacon before hipsters. SO nyeah.
posted by symbioid at 3:17 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone is into bacon.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you're replacing meat with tofu dogs...

If you're replacing meat with highly processed "fake meat," you're doing it wrong. Also, most of that stuff tastes awful, which is partly why my ill-fated attempt at going vegetarian didn't work.
posted by asnider at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sadly, I'm only eating less meat proportionally.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:19 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every vegetable contains anti-nutrients, plants evolved not to be eaten.

Except for the ones that, you know, rely on being eaten as a method of seed dispersal.
posted by euphorb at 3:23 PM on January 13, 2012 [18 favorites]


Every vegetable contains anti-nutrients, plants evolved not to be eaten.

Yeah, well the joke's on them. Onions, garlic, chilis, chocolate, alcohol. Poison is fucking delicious.
posted by ryanrs at 3:24 PM on January 13, 2012 [46 favorites]


Maybe it seems like we're eating less meat because those who eat the most meat are dying.
posted by perhapses at 3:25 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, well the joke's on them. Onions, garlic, chilis, chocolate, alcohol. Poison is fucking delicious.

All of those pair quite well with meat, however, the best vegetable products in my mind are fava beans and a nice Chianti.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I eat less meat than I used to, but I can't really say it was some sort of conscious choice. There certainly isn't any kind of philosophical principle involved.

It's just that as I've gotten old, my tastes have changed. I still eat a lot of protein, but it's mostly from cheese.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:28 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and eggs. I eat a lot of eggs.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:29 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I work at a cancer research center. First week of work, I got an orientation. For the benefit of the employees who weren't directly involved with cancer research, it included a little Cancer 101, which included a sheet of lifestyle choices that are implicated in cancer.

It was a short list, maybe 20 things. There aren't all that many things on which the science is super amazingly clear. There was a little bar next to each thing indicating how much it elevated your absolute risk of personally developing cancer.

There was a giant bar for smoking, and a great big bar for drinking, and a hefty bar for eating lots of red meat. Everything else was down in the weeds.

So, perhaps more and more Americans are working at cancer research centers.
posted by gurple at 3:30 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The question you need to be asking at your cancer research center is, "Why do cancers hate our freedom?"
posted by perhapses at 3:33 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think there are a ton of factors: conscious choice, definitely, but also unconscious following of food trends, increased exposure to cuisines that don't use a lot of meat, and things like that. Cooking magazines, websites and tv shows don't feature big hunks of meat. I think it's hard to pinpoint a single cause of most trends.

I don't eat much meat because I don't like cooking meat. It's a choice, but it's not like I made a New Year's resolution to cut back on meat.
posted by craichead at 3:35 PM on January 13, 2012


A 12% drop in meat consumption since 2007. Possible explanation: everybody quit Atkins dieting.

I definitely know a lot of casual vegetarians, and many of them explain themselves just by saying "I don't like eating meat." They don't seem to have put more thought into it than that. It makes me wonder if the quality of produce is improving - I discovered green beans were delicious when I stopped eating that canned shit my mom gave me.
posted by Peevish at 3:37 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


ryanrs: "Every vegetable contains anti-nutrients, plants evolved not to be eaten.

Yeah, well the joke's on them. Onions, garlic, chilis, chocolate, alcohol. Poison is fucking delicious.
"

You forgot psilocybin.
posted by symbioid at 3:39 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Animals are raised in the US with tons of antibiotics and crap feed additives, prone to virus, butchered in inhumane and unsanitary conditions where e. coli is just business as usual, then processed with ammonia and disgusting 'meat glue', as well as having crap like the eyeballs, intestines, anuses and lips added to processed meat.

So what's for dinner, folks?
posted by BlueHorse at 3:46 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd definitely say I was a flexitarian as described in that article - I haven't given up meat or dairy, but over the last two years I've significantly cut back on it to the degree that I didn't feel the need to think about modifying my diet as a New Year's Resolution. I have a ridiculous number of reasons for doing this - the US meat industry seems to be pretty shady, it's healthier, it's cheaper, it's kinder to the environment, I hate the consequences of corn subsidies and mono-crop agriculture, I can grow vegetables in our back yard (fun, cheap and a useful skill!), and there are masses of vegetarian and vegan recipes out there on these fair internets to try.

I still really enjoy salmon and beef and raw milk and chicken and In&Out burger, but I also enjoy kale and salsa made from my own tomatoes/chilli peppers and cucumbers and roasted root vegetables and carrots and beans. It's just a better (although not always EASIER of course) choice to go for the latter more often than the former.
posted by saturnine at 3:48 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Less meat and more vegetables is probably a great thing. Less meat and more mac and cheese from a box is probably not all that much of an improvement.

as well as having crap like the eyeballs, intestines, anuses and lips added to processed meat.

It's funny how "nose to tail" eating is something to celebrate when done by at a five star restaurant, but not in processed meats. My guess is that those parts are actually pretty good for you, nutritionally, and that meat eating is a lot smarter if you are eating organs and eyeballs instead of just fatty muscle tissue.
posted by Forktine at 3:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


So what's for dinner, folks?

I'm going for anus smothered with lips.
posted by perhapses at 3:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


BlueHorse: "So what's for dinner, folks?"

Taco Bell.
posted by symbioid at 3:51 PM on January 13, 2012


We're eating less meat. Why?

Also: what's this "we" bullshit?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:51 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's probably the fact that half the people never come who promise to show at meat-ups.
posted by dhartung at 3:53 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure that meat isn't the problem, and an overabundance of cheap carbs, sugars, and fat is.

If Americans, en masse, shifted half the calories they get from junk food into lean meat, obesity rates would plummet.
posted by downing street memo at 3:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


If Americans, en masse, shifted half the calories they get from junk food into lean meat, obesity rates would plummet.

Pretty sure you still have to cut the calories.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:59 PM on January 13, 2012


Pretty sure you still have to cut the calories.

Well, yeah, but lean protein sources are better for satiety, and eating more of them (anecdotally) usually results in decreased overall food consumption.
posted by downing street memo at 4:02 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I blame the vast pudding lobby.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:05 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The topic of whether or not meat eating is healthful and/or ethical suffers greatly from people deciding what they want to believe and then vociferously broadcasting all the data that support them while ignoring those that don't. It's tiresome and predictable. So here's a dude, Mr. Bittman, who has tiresomely decided that meat eating is bad and wrong, and that anything other than meat eating is great and wonderful. Then he has predictably applauded a decline in meat-eating, without ant interest whatsoever in what is replacing meat in our diets. Really, that's about all the nuance that is present in this article.

Maybe it seems like we're eating less meat because those who eat the most meat are dying.

That's a pretty dishonest way of introducing that link, perhapses. That article talks about the relationship between increased processed meat consumption and pancreatic cancer rates. It says nothing at all about non-processed meats, nor about death rates.
posted by parrot_person at 4:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


One thing I hate whenever this topic is discussed is that most popular sources totally fail to differentiate factory-farmed meat from meat raised properly, nor meat cooked in unhealthful vs. healthful ways (charring vs stewing at low temps). Meat is not meat is not meat.
posted by parrot_person at 4:11 PM on January 13, 2012


I married a Vegan about three years ago. I definitely eat less meat and am healthier for it. I used to eat some kind of meat with every dinner - now it is maybe every other dinner.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 4:15 PM on January 13, 2012


most popular sources totally fail to differentiate factory-farmed meat from meat raised properly

I know, right? They also totally fail to mention the percentage of meat eaten while riding rollercoasters.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My elderly mother has stopped eating meat and most other animal products. What finally pushed her to action was seeing the Sanjay Gupta special with Bill Clinton talking about his vegan diet. I think she had been wanting to go vegetarian for a long time, knew it would have health benefits for her (and, in fact, her often debilitating bowel issues have since completely cleared up), but felt that it was too out there. But if Bill Clinton's doing it, that's pretty mainstream.
posted by HotToddy at 4:19 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


parrot_person has a great point; when Americans go vegetarian or flexitarian or whatever, what replaces meat in their diets?

The US doesn't have a robust vegetarian cuisine, and most people probably don't have regular access to predominantly-vegetarian cuisines (subcontinental, Ethiopian, etc.). So what happens when most people go vegetarian? Meat is either replaced with fake meat or with greater helpings of common non-meat foods, i.e. cheap carbs.

The cafeteria at my office has a weekly flexitarian buffet. What's on it? Calorie-dense carbs, for the most part. Gnocchi, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, other kinds of white pasta. Obviously not a scientific survey, but this at least a reasonable proxy of non-meat foods people like to eat.

There's a way to be a healthy vegetarian, if you're either a) in a major metro area with access to traditionally-vegetarian cuisines or b) willing to invest a TON of time in basically learning how to cook again.
posted by downing street memo at 4:20 PM on January 13, 2012


Every meat eater in an internet discussion on vegetarianism only eats meat they raised themselves in an ethical manner that died of natural causes. :P

Factory farming now accounts for more than 99 percent of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the United States.3 (according to some anti-factory farming group)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:21 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, someone already pointed out that people are replacing meat with iPhones. Highly processed iPhones.
posted by perhapses at 4:34 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


My eating no meat but fish is almost entirely a matter of feeling. I'm not a fan of factory farming, but moreover, when I eat meat, I feel full; when I eat fish, grains and veggies, I feel nourished, and sated. It could very well be because I so rarely eat meat than when I do, I get that marbled feeling, but I don't feel a real incentive to get back into the habit of eating it regularly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:39 PM on January 13, 2012


downing street memo > "So what happens when most people go vegetarian? Meat is either replaced with fake meat or with greater helpings of common non-meat foods, i.e. cheap carbs."

I'm not sure why you presume this to be true, unless this is some weird defensive reaction on your own behalf. The answer to that for me is "more vegetables" or "more peanut butter" or "eggs". Sometimes I eat cheese, but not very often. For my vegan friends, it's "omg nutritional yeast!!!!!".

> "The cafeteria at my office has a weekly flexitarian buffet. What's on it? Calorie-dense carbs, for the most part. Obviously not a scientific survey, but this at least a reasonable proxy of non-meat foods people like to eat."

This is incorrect. What's happening in your cafeteria is usually what happens when people who are NOT involved in the same dietary choices are put in charge of providing meatless meals. Just ask any vegetarian or vegan that's been to a dinner party and their only option is a carb drenched in cheese/fake cheese. It's not an accurate comparison because it's a situation where other people are in control of what's available to eat, and sometimes when you're hungry at work, you just have to take the best of what's offered. If you wanted a real comparison, you'd be talking about the lunches non-meat eaters bring from home.

That's not to say that there aren't non-meat eaters that don't eat carelessly (I've met many vegetarians that don't like vegetables), but it's not like they're special snowflakes exempt from flaws. Many, many people eat carelessly, and that's why many of us choose to try a little harder.
posted by saturnine at 4:40 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gotta be trolling. Even a poor cook will eat food prepared by competent cooks, and find the falsity of that statement proven instantly and repeatedly.

Jesus Christ, look at my posting history before calling me a troll. Or are you just upset because someone has a different opinion than you do?
posted by KokuRyu at 4:42 PM on January 13, 2012


"We"? This article is about AMERICANS. Not "we."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:42 PM on January 13, 2012


Is that why Epic Mealtime has become so popular?
posted by annsunny at 4:45 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mackerel is one of the highly contaminated fish for a number of reasons, sardines are better lower on the chain and not very old when caught.

I think you may be thinking of King mackerel, which is reportedly high in mercury, unlike Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) which is lower on the food chain.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:45 PM on January 13, 2012


Maybe it seems like we're eating less meat because those who eat the most meat are dying.

Yes, in car wrecks.
posted by TedW at 4:49 PM on January 13, 2012


I pressed post a little too soon there. I wanted to add that with a growing number of people having access to the internet, this isn't really something that you need to live near a food culture to access - as long as you have a semi-decent supermarket nearby, you're set. If you've already got the inclination to cut down on meat (or dairy, or sugar), then you've probably got the inclination to search out recipes. You don't need to "learn to cook again", you just need to learn more about food and cooking, which is something fairly easily done when there's a computer in nearly every library. I come from an exceedingly poor background in the UK - my diet was so bad up until the age of 20 that I had my gallbladder removed just before I was 21. This and Google was all I needed to change my life - it wasn't easy, but it really wasn't as unhealthy or difficult as people make out. It's even easier in the part of the US that I live in (I'm fortunate to not live in a food desert - a whole other issue that really needs sorting out here). I only wish I'd started sooner.
posted by saturnine at 4:49 PM on January 13, 2012


Americans spend a smaller percentage of their money on food than ever. An interesting fact to ponder when considering our current food choices.
posted by Go Banana at 5:08 PM on January 13, 2012


The most interesting speculation to me is that it might be due to all the aging baby boomers who are cutting out/down meat consumption to ward off cancer. Even my (67 yr old) mother, who's about as out of touch as you can get, is concerned about the animal product/cancer connection.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:17 PM on January 13, 2012


I'm down to eating meat about once a week, and then, usually in the form of fish, even though fish is fraught in its own right.

I fucking love meat. But factory farming is shitty for the environment (hello, pigshit lagoons!), shitty for animals, and makes for shitty meat and ammoniated byproducts. Meanwhile, well-farmed meat is expensive, and relatively difficult to obtain. My solution is to not eat meat most days of the week, and to try to make sure that when I do eat it, it's the good stuff. It's what makes sense to me, for me, right now.

Regarding the obesity thing, there isn't one right way to do things, and there are plenty of wrong ones. Most people eating meat aren't sticking to lean cuts that come without bread or potatoes or pasta, and a lot of places have shit for vegetarian options, from deli sandwiches that are wads of processed cheese, to protein-free pasta dishes that are slathered in oil. Meanwhile, eating lean meat and cutting carbs is great, but so is a diet that relies on satiety-inducing fresh greens and legumes.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some of my friends have observed massive drops in the amount of meat they consume and it seems to be that meat is really expensive and they'd rather buy nice expensive meat once in a while than spend more (in total) buying crappy meat frequently.

What I find really odd about my own vegetarianism is that it doesn't seem related to BSE. I remember being in England and my parents saying we couldn't go to McDonald's. (It can be very hard to feed my brother sometimes and a McDonald's hamburger was the failsafe when he was little.) But to avoid putting us off beef forever, my dad made up some story about English McDonald's hamburgers being radioactive and would make you go blue. I've been slightly afraid of English McDonald's ever since. But somehow seeing the labels on the beef saying when the cow was born didn't put me off.

The US doesn't have a robust vegetarian cuisine, and most people probably don't have regular access to predominantly-vegetarian cuisines (subcontinental, Ethiopian, etc.). So what happens when most people go vegetarian? Meat is either replaced with fake meat or with greater helpings of common non-meat foods, i.e. cheap carbs.

Um... they start experimenting with vegetarian-friendly cuisines. Seriously. I went vegetarian as a teenager in high school preparing my own meals. I definitely at a hell of a lot of frozen pizza, but I did make plenty of forays into the cookbook section of the library an experiment.
posted by hoyland at 5:32 PM on January 13, 2012


I am not a baby boomer but as someone who has cancer that is the *exact* reason I have become vegetarian. Watch Forks Over Knives. The reasons are compelling.
posted by youandwhosearmy at 5:32 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm a vegetrian so I have no skin in the game, har har, but the BSE panic is just as ridiculous than bird flu mania. Both of these scaredemics had the effect of bakrupting tens of thousands of farmers worldwide. Thier lands get snached up for a song by large agricultural companies.

Mark Purdey had some iconoclasitc things to say about it.
posted by clarknova at 5:34 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cutting out fast food cut down my meat consumption automatically.
posted by Renoroc at 5:42 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've stopped cooking and eating meat as a main course, and instead use it more as a flavoring agent. Red bean soup in the crock pot, made with fresh veggies and a ham hock, is a favorite of mine.

I do the same thing with stir frys.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was a little bar next to each thing indicating how much it elevated your absolute risk of personally developing cancer.

Don't be such a tease, gurple!
posted by Floydd at 6:22 PM on January 13, 2012


GallonOfAlan >The BSE thing hammered the British beef industry. 176 people have been recognised as dying from the human form in the UK in the 22 years since 1990. Over 1000 die from falling down stairs EVERY YEAR. People have no idea how to assess risk, and scaremongering media don't help.

-harlequin- >The generous interpretation is that you're not very familiar with the BSE outbreak.

I dunno, the number for "human mad cow disease" cases jibes with Wikipedia's anyway. However the statistic for stair-falling deaths is either misleadingly the US value, or just off by a factor of 50x or so. If the problem is people assessing risk, avoiding misleading citations could only help.
posted by Bokononist at 6:27 PM on January 13, 2012


Eggs and fish > beef and pork.

Also, i have coworkers who eat so poorly that meat is seemingly beyond their capacities to acquire or prepare. They seem to live on chips, candy bars, Hostess cake products, and soda. I guess that's a form of vegetarianism? There ain't no meat in Mountain Dew.
posted by ELF Radio at 6:48 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another contributor to the trend, however small, may be that survival rates of heart attacks have been increasing. Better medicines, more access to defibrillators, etc. So when someone who previously consumed a lot of meat has a heart attack, they're more likely to continue to live now, only on a much stricter diet, thereby cutting down the per capita meat consumption.

Actually, this would probably be the case for ALL serious health conditions, the treatments of which have improved rates of survival, and which require survivors to eat much healthier.

Similarly, the trend in general for longer life expectancy would be a general contributor, since elderly folks tend to tolerate meat less easily and so cut back on meat consumption as they age.
posted by darkstar at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're eating less meat in my household because it's bloody fucking expensive. Plus, I'm having way too much fun with my Indian cookbook, which recipes require little to no meat.

A pound and a half of chicken thighs fed six people tonight, slivered up and simmered with a ton of veggies in coconut milk and red curry. NOM.
posted by MissySedai at 6:56 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Price is another factor, certainly.

For $20.00 or so, I could buy a couple of really nice steaks, or half a chicken or something.

Instead, I went to a local Farmer's Market in Seattle, and got an entire shopping bag full of dried beans of various types. Alvarez Farms is the best, they have incredible fresh veggies, peppers, and dried beans, and I'm convinced their entire staff has halos hidden under their hoodies.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:03 PM on January 13, 2012


I'm not.
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on January 13, 2012


"We"? This article is about AMERICANS. Not "we."

The title of the article is "We’re Eating Less Meat. Why?". It's easy to misunderstand who "we" is due to the wide reach of the internet, but with a little context it actually makes sense. Mark Bitman writes for the opinion section of the New York Times newspaper. New York is a large city on the east coast of the United States of America and a sizable market by itself, but the newspaper is one of the larger ones in the country and is actually distributed nation-wide. Some articles of the NYT are distributed in print internationally, but Bitman's food writing is not. This means that, although the NYT website is accessible world-wide, most of the audience for Bitman's work are those residing within the United States where Bitman is also a citizen. When Bitman uses "we" in this particular online article, he is referring to both himself and the typically American readers of his column.
posted by Winnemac at 7:23 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


My house is eating less meat because I am on weight watchers and I find their cookbook app to be the quickest way to plan a week's worth of low point dinners. Following these recipes I find myself buying different cuts of meat than I did previously, and using less per recipe. They have a great chimichanga recipe that uses a tiny bit of ground turkey mixed with beans. My kids love it, and my budget does too, since I can freeze the other half of the package for next time.
posted by Biblio at 7:28 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am eating more meat because I have to reduce my carb intake. Sniff. I live for pinto beans - live for them - and pasta. I was down to less than 12oz of meat (of all types, including chicken and fish) a week, generally as one 6oz steak and a lot of garnishy uses on salads and pizza and such. Tonight I made a spaghetti sauce that was, by volume, just shy of 50% meat. And so expensive! Sigh.
posted by SMPA at 7:37 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


parrot_person: The topic of whether or not meat eating is healthful and/or ethical suffers greatly from people deciding what they want to believe and then vociferously broadcasting all the data that support them while ignoring those that don't. It's tiresome and predictable. So here's a dude, Mr. Bittman, who has tiresomely decided that meat eating is bad and wrong, and that anything other than meat eating is great and wonderful. Then he has predictably applauded a decline in meat-eating, without ant interest whatsoever in what is replacing meat in our diets. Really, that's about all the nuance that is present in this article.

You just used a lot of words while providing no new information or rebutting any specifics of Bittman's article. Isn't that just attacking the author and not the contents?

I haven't read Bittman before, and while it seems contextually obvious that he thinks it's a good thing for people to eat less meat, the article itself isn't prescriptivist. It simply argues that it seems the drop in meat eating seems to be greater than can be explained by simple economic reasons, and leaves it to the reader to determine what personal reasons there may be. I think this thread alone shows that there are a lot of personal reasons to eat less meat, and ethics hasn't come up that much.

Though I'm an 8-year vegan, so...
posted by Peevish at 7:51 PM on January 13, 2012


I adore some meat, jamón serrano is sublime, but I've almost never cooked meat myself. I'll leave the bloody bits for the various professionals who feed us when some do require eating out.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:53 PM on January 13, 2012


Well, I did cut back on meat eating between meals.
posted by knoyers at 8:37 PM on January 13, 2012


Bittman can be such a dick sometimes. He condescendingly asks whether anyone is eating more meat. Emphasis his.

Answer? Yes. I am eating more beef, liver, tongue, and other offal. I'm also eating more sardines, eggs, & a much wider variety of vegetables. In addition, I'm eating less bread & dairy. I'm not the only one. I've noticed kefir showing up in more mainstream grocery stores, my local store running out of eggs, liver, and cuts of meat, while the ground stuff tends to site longer.

While the economic & agricultural data is convincing, his desire to pin the decline, willy-nilly, on self-reporting related flexitarianism and Meatless Monday, is painful to read. I'd like to see something a little more in-depth.. perhaps something nuanced that includes flexitarianism and the spread of the insidious myth that meat is evil, but also discusses other dietary trends, like farm-to-table models of food supply, portion sizes in sit-down restaurants, the effect of fillers and extenders in fast food meat, etc.
posted by medra42 at 8:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not this guy.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:04 PM on January 13, 2012


I saw this on the NYtimes page this morning, and I immediately flashed back to the old anti-drug PSA:

Bittman: Why have you stopped eating so much meat?

Reader: I learned it from you, all right! I learned it from reading you!

/cut to Bittman's face, shocked and stunned at the revelation.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:30 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife and I bought half a pig and 16 chickens just before Thanksgiving, and it's now all hanging out in the basement chest freezer. We'll be eating plenty of meat (along with lots of veggies) for the next several months.
posted by me3dia at 9:32 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mark Bittman is a fantastic pure food writer. Amazing recipes, great insights on why you might want to do this and not that in a kitchen. For the no-knead bread recipe alone, he's in the Hall of Fame.

As a social commentator, political journalist, and semi-essayist, Mark Bittman is proving to be . . . a fantastic pure food writer.
posted by gompa at 10:13 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I eat more meat. Otherwise, I'd be dead. I also eat more vegetables. Well, except, in some ways, I do eat less meat. At least, less than I did 30 years ago. But more than 10 years ago, when I was eating lots of carbs. It is true, decades ago I ate huge quantities of beef, which I love. Today, I can't eat like that. My capacity is less as well as my desire.

I'm shocked by all the folks here touting fish. Kill the ocean much? Ever heard of sustainability? There isn't that much fish for people to be eating it as a healthy alternative to meat!
posted by Goofyy at 11:17 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is still away to go. We haven't yet replaced the normal pizza sauce with meat sauce, nor have we replaced the pizza crust with a giant piece of pepperoni.

Well, *you* haven't.
posted by madajb at 11:52 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked by all the folks here touting fish. Kill the ocean much? Ever heard of sustainability? There isn't that much fish for people to be eating it as a healthy alternative to meat!

Unless you're eating grass-fed beef raised and slaughtered in your own community, you are part of the problem facing the world's oceans.

Besides, there are plenty of species of fish with high replacement rates, such as mackerel and sardines, plus squid. We spend about 2 or 3 months a year in a rural part of Japan. All of the fish we eat is caught locally. On the west coast of Canada, the fish sold in the supermarket is typically "luxury" food such as wild salmon and rockfish, both of which are in trouble. Sardines are great - the fishery off the west coast, from California ("Cannery Row") has come back over the past ten years as part of a natural cycle. The problem with sardine, pilchards and anchovies is that industrial-scale fisheries off Peru catch the fish for use as fish feed that is fed to livestock and farmed fish. I can't see what is wrong with eating a fish caught sustainably in our own waters.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:56 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have been eating less store meat, I do not approve of factory farming, I do not approve of modern slaughterhouse methods, or meat glue, which I learned about on MeFi.
So I look for kosher or halal, or at least local grass fed beefalo, there's a guy who supplies it. I eat sardines, salmon, and whatever other fish I can get. I have moved to eating cage free eggs.
One reason lean meat tastes bad is indeed wrong cooking methods, the other is animals raised on waste products, and hormones, and other wrong foods.
Just about any time you see lots of sick animals, they are not being cared for in the right way and are kept in close quarters and getting inbred.
Sheep, cattle, goats, horses, reindeer and camels are migratory in the wild or feral state. Swine are territorial, but even they are more mobile in a feral state which cuts down on illness.
Setting up the correct living conditions for animals is as mentioned up-thread, expensive.
I also end up eating a lot of lentils. I don't do well with carbs.
I can't eat as much of anything as I once did. Don't have quite as much appetite, and things don't taste quite the same.
I don't buy that vegetarianism is all that healthy. I also don't think eating huge piles of meat is healthy.
Just my opinion.
For the record I like a GOOD burger or steak or roast very much. I am lactose intolerant so there are dairy products which are hard on me.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:12 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


One reason lean meat tastes bad is indeed wrong cooking methods, the other is animals raised on waste products, and hormones, and other wrong foods.

The reason lean meat tastes bad is that fat = flavor. Overly lean meat is just sadness on a plate. Dark meat is more flavorful than white meat. Pork loin is more flavorful than pork filet, but shoulder has more flavor than loin, and dear god, belly has the market cornered on flavor.

If people are cutting down on meat for health, well, at least try to enjoy the meat you do eat.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:10 AM on January 14, 2012


Space Coyote: "I wonder how I show up in the stats given that I've stopped buying meat at the grocery store and have developed relationships with a couple of farmers market meat vendors."

And I wonder how I show up in the stats given that I've started my new... um... barbershop. Yes. Cutting... cutting CUTTING hair and all that.
posted by Splunge at 4:04 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fact: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Luxembourg consumes more meat per capita than any other country.

Fact: The World Bank ranks Luxembourg as having the highest per capita income in the world.

Hypothesis: Luxembourg is actually one giant country club where citizens indulge themselves daily on the finest cuts money can buy while eschewing vegetarian dishes as commoner's gruel.


Luxembourg is often an outlier in data for EU countries and globally. Usually this is put down to the fact that a lot of people live otuside Luxembourg and commute in for work each day. I have seen it suggested that the population doubles each working day though I don't have hard data to hand. This means that energy use, food consumption etc goes up but is only divided by the number of actual residents.
posted by biffa at 4:11 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The BSE thing hammered the British beef industry. 176 people have been recognised as dying from the human form in the UK in the 22 years since 1990. Over 1000 die from falling down stairs EVERY YEAR. People have no idea how to assess risk, and scaremongering media don't help.

IIRC no-one knew how to assess the risk for CJD from British beef, when the danger first came to light. So non-UK Governments choose to apply the precautionary principle. Its certainly possible to present a decent argument that this was taken with some economic motivators as well as public health, certainly as bans went on, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a concern and that lack of knowledge meant it was not possible to say how big a concern.
posted by biffa at 4:17 AM on January 14, 2012


"So I look for kosher or halal"

If you are eating less meat because you have compassion for the poor animals ("modern slaughterhouse methods") then kosher and halal are, while not as mechanized, more barbaric than the modern method.

Correct me if I'm wrong, kosher and halal have little to do with the animal and more to do with the method of slaughter?

This means that the animals is, generally, subjected to factory farming methods for it's whole life and then it's slaughtered, while fully conscious, by having an old man with a cruddy beard slice his throat from ear to ear with a knife.

Fuck, at least the slaughterhouse pretends to knock them unconscious before they put a bolt in their head.

If you gave me a choice of how to be murdered, knocked out and then slit as opposed to just slit; I'd choose knocked out first.

Halal and Kosher are not alternatives for meat eaters that want to feel good about slaughter practices.
posted by mikehipp at 5:32 AM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]



Mackerel is one of the highly contaminated fish for a number of reasons, sardines are better lower on the chain and not very old when caught.


No, don't eat sardines. I could care less whether they're good for you, but they're certainly good for every other fish in the ocean and the seas are stressed enough as they are.

I've been slightly afraid of English McDonald's ever since.

It's good to be wary of English attempts at American fast food in general.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:43 AM on January 14, 2012


We're eating less meat. Why?

Because we're all worried that maybe it's really pink slime.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 AM on January 14, 2012


when Americans go vegetarian or flexitarian or whatever, what replaces meat in their diets?



Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
(big ending!)
So, LET'S HAVE BEANS FOR EVERY MEAL!
posted by LiteOpera at 6:18 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


We definitely eat less meat than we used to - and would probably eat even less except for having a teenaged son. ;)

Curiously one of the best pieces of advice I ever read about losing weight was from Adam Smith's book Powers of Mind. What he said is that when you eat, focus only on your food. Don't read a book, don't watch TV, don't debate with your table mates. Just focus on your food. You'll find two things happen: First, you'll appreciate the food more (and chew it more carefully, which is good for digestion). Second, you'll enjoy the food more - which will lead you to want better food and better prepared food. Of course this takes tremendous discipline, which raises interesting questions about our modern lifestyles...but that's another story.
posted by BillW at 6:35 AM on January 14, 2012


Don't eat anything with eyes. With one exception.
posted by Postroad at 6:40 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Caribou?

I hope so.
posted by spitbull at 6:43 AM on January 14, 2012


Tacos de ojo?
posted by Forktine at 6:50 AM on January 14, 2012


What's taters, precious?
posted by Acheman at 7:01 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I eat less meat than I used to for a couple of reasons: my wife is Asian, and cooks her native cuisine extensively; and, despite making more than three times as much as I did three years ago, meat now seems really expensive to me.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:31 AM on January 14, 2012


This means that the animals is, generally, subjected to factory farming methods for it's whole life and then it's slaughtered, while fully conscious, by having an old man with a cruddy beard slice his throat from ear to ear with a knife....If you gave me a choice of how to be murdered, knocked out and then slit as opposed to just slit; I'd choose knocked out first.

mikehipp, I can speak to one aspect of your comment, because I raise turkeys and, for the first time in my life, butcher them myself.

(Those bothered by animals' deaths, this is a good time to skip the rest of this comment.)

Once the turkey is head down, it goes very still and essentially faints. It is not fully conscious. The throat slitting is very brief--it feels like a second or two--and the turkey dies before I can count to three. The whole process takes about five seconds. There's nothing cool about it; this is killing. But I think that the way I do it minimizes the turkey's awareness of fear and pain. Coincidentally, this is also (I believe) consistent with kosher and halal methods of slaughtering poultry.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:37 AM on January 14, 2012


We eat less meat because, more than once, we got meat home and discovered it stank..either because it was rotten or because it was so badly processed (factory farming I assume, or something at the plant). Either way, we weren't going to eat that.

So we became pickier; why pay rising meat prices for rotten meat? Might as well pay slightly more for organic or grassfed if you can find it.

But that means we're not having Meat at Every Meal because we can't afford to. We eat more eggs, cheese, beans, and nuts these days for protein. And more fruit. Still too many carbs, but we're working on overcoming our vegetable phobia for that. We both find raw veggie cooking intimidating and are haunted by memories of the nastily cooked/canned stuff that we had as kids.

We've even gotten pickier about fast food; if I go to the quickie Mexican place these days I'm more likely to get the bean/cheese dishes than the meat, because I'm sure it's just industrial chicken or beef like the kind we are avoiding.
posted by emjaybee at 8:01 AM on January 14, 2012


So we became pickier; why pay rising meat prices for rotten meat?

OK, we have industrialized the food production, the delivery, the packaging, and the mega-stores that sell the food. And people are bringing home rotten meat that costs more.

We are supposed to be the beneficiaries of increased efficiency, but I suspect the primary benefits are manifesting themselves as increased profits. Increased prices, crappier product, less money for every person at every step in the production process.

Dumb.
posted by dglynn at 8:35 AM on January 14, 2012


Whatever is causing it, it's happening to bread, too. (Rising grain prices overall?) I frequently find myself shaking fist at sky over the darn bread prices these days, as if I lived through the Great Depression or something.

Seriously, the very middle-class supermarket I go to has a whole row of bread for $4 a loaf and more. And we're not talking about artisanal, one-off stuff, either. This is mass-produced (admittedly whole grains) sliced sandwich bread. If you want anything other than the blandest, airiest, beached white variety, you're fortunate if your can find loaves for $2.50 nowadays.

But yeah...bread and meat are getting outrageous, and that's not just channeling Grampa, either.
posted by darkstar at 9:26 AM on January 14, 2012


That said, Costco usually has a 2-loaf-for $3.79 or something similar, for fairly decent whole grain bread. Just avoid the place on the weekends when it's moocher's paradise.
posted by darkstar at 9:30 AM on January 14, 2012


I have actually been eating more meat lately, but only because I now live down the road from a really good butcher, and one of the living room radiators is broken, so if I stew or slow-roast something the room stays warm and I get a few days' worth of good food.

Before I moved here, I would pretty much never buy meat while grocery shopping unless I was cooking for friends. My bachelor staple is couscous with Things in it: things including pesto, cheese, toasted pinenuts, tomatoes and other vegetables. In summer I'll probably go back to that mode; meanwhile, slow-roasted shoulder of pork here I come.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:38 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, after you've invented a pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni and pepperoni stuffed in the crust, there's no place to go but down.

I don't think you understand just how little of that pizza is meat.
posted by wrok at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2012


But I think that the way I do it minimizes the turkey's awareness of fear and pain. Coincidentally, this is also (I believe) consistent with kosher and halal methods of slaughtering poultry.

That's actually not a coincidence. It's one of the primary goals of those two methods of slaughter
posted by euphorb at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2012


I frequently find myself shaking fist at sky over the darn bread prices these days, as if I lived through the Great Depression or something.

The magic combination of extreme income inequality and artificially low food prices for processed foods has us trapped. Prices need to go up if we are going to be able to provide food choices that are better than extruded meat product and highly refined carbohydrates. But unless the majority of people start feeling less financially pinched, suggesting that prices rise is untenable.

I wish I could snap my fingers and magically reverse a lot of our food subsidies. A box of instant mac and cheese should be a $12 once a month treat (because I'll be the first to admit that once in a while I love the stuff, with a can of tuna mixed in of course), and fresh vegetables, whole grains, and decent quality meat should be subsidized like the carbs are now. It sucks that right now the rational choice for millions of people, who are pressed for time and money, is to eat crappy food, and that even mildly better food is becoming an elitist hobby.
posted by Forktine at 1:00 PM on January 14, 2012


I was unclear; I don't butcher to be halal or kosher, and it's a coincidence that my practices overlap with religious rites.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:02 PM on January 14, 2012


I used to eat 3 hamburgers at once. Now I eat two. That's a 33% cut.

After 3 hamburgers I had no choice to sit in front of the TV and burp. I found that after two, I still had enough blood going to my brain to realize how unhealthy TV is.
posted by Twang at 2:49 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm eating more meat than I used to. Back in the day, I just wasn't very good at cooking meat, or anything that wasn't from a box. I was all pasta all the time, supplemented with various junky snack foods.

I'm not sure how many people cook mostly Box-o-Carb prepackaged kits, but they're appealing because they're shelf-stable and don't require any additional seasonings or effort or thought. And if you haven't cooked meat before, it takes some time to learn how to do it right.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:12 PM on January 14, 2012


most popular sources totally fail to differentiate factory-farmed meat from meat raised properly

I know, right? They also totally fail to mention the percentage of meat eaten while riding rollercoasters.


jimmythefish, I'm sure you had some sort of point, but it would be great if you would be less obtuse when attempting to make it. I've utterly no idea what you are trying to say.
posted by parrot_person at 9:31 PM on January 14, 2012


Every meat eater in an internet discussion on vegetarianism only eats meat they raised themselves in an ethical manner that died of natural causes.

And every vegetarian eats only organic fruits, nuts, and vegetables they grew and harvested themselves.

Oh, no, wait, many of them eat things like factory-made frozen meals, veggie burgers, tofu, etc. trucked thousands of miles and packaged in layers of plastic. Sooo virtuous!!
posted by parrot_person at 9:34 PM on January 14, 2012


I think you missed the :P there. But organic/locavore is not the same as vegetarianism and the concerns don't always intersect.

I'm in favor of factory farming/chemical fertilizer/pesticides/GMO because it is often a huge boost in efficiency.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:37 PM on January 14, 2012


I’m eating a lot less meat. I don’t like the industry, I don’t think that much of it is good for me, and I realized at some point (ignoring all the people here saying that I’m doing it wrong) that I’m just not that crazy about meat and never have been. I like it just fine but don’t get all excited like others seem to. I don’t care anything about a steak, though I have had some pretty great ones (Wofgang’s in L.A.). Pretty much any meat dish I love I would like the vegetarian version just as much.

I usually eat meat once a week. I’m not sure what the name for that is.
posted by bongo_x at 5:15 PM on January 15, 2012


'Efficiency' is a funny thing. It means creating the greatest amount of meat for the lowest amount of money, given:
a) The existing system of subsidies, and
b) Without regard for externalized costs.

The subsidies include dirt cheap corn, which makes the scale of these operations possible.

Externalized costs include:
* Massive health problems for farm workers in these environments,
* Increased rates of food poisoning (an estimated 47.8 million cases reported in the US between 2000-2007),
* Environmental impact of confined farms; in fact, factory farming is a primary cause for the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, and finally
* Cruelty visited upon the animal populations in the factory farms.

Whenever you hear the word 'efficiency,' you should immediately ask 'for who?' Whose interests are being compromized in order that Tyco can create chicken nuggets more 'efficiently?'
posted by kaibutsu at 6:50 AM on January 16, 2012


I was more talking in the area of plant production, not meat. Maximizing production is just something that is going to happen with all the drawbacks that brings when we have 5 billion people and growing.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:19 PM on January 16, 2012


I think I'm probably eating a bit more meat than in 2007; I'm trying to fine-tune my diet to be as healthy (and make me feel as good) as possible, and I just find I need a bit of protein in every meal to feel good. My meals tend to be veg-based, with a little whole grain and a little meat to keep my blood sugar stable. I'm reducing dairy because my lactose intolerance seems to be getting worse as I get older. I'm also trying to cook things that appeal to the meat-loving boyfriend (but still give him a healthy dose of veg).
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2012


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