Gluttony · Health

Meat Gluttony and America

Rather than a boring post about the definition of gluttony and how overeating is a sin (maybe I’ll do that later), I want to talk about what immediately strikes me as gluttonous behavior as it pertains to eating meat in America. In fact, the below statistics are what actually inspired this site.

How much meat do Americans eat?

There is conflicting information about how much meat Americans eat, but every list that compares the average amount of meat consumed per person each year places the USA in the top three at least.

According to this article, Americans consume an average of 270 pounds of meat per person per year – with the world average being around 102 pounds of meat per person per year. So that means that Americans eat 2.7 times as much meat per person as the world average. That’s almost three quarters of a pound of meat every single day.

Three quarters of a pound might not seem like a ton, but when you consider the resources required to yield a pound of beef, it’s seems like a lot more.

  • 2,500 gallons of water
  • 12 pounds of grain
  • 35 pounds of topsoil
  • Energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline

Consuming three quarters of a pound every single day is starting to seem a lot more gluttonous, especially when you consider the fact that the world average is less than a third of a pound (and how many other options for food we have available to us in America).

Note: The statistics above are for a pound of beef, and the 270/lbs/year number includes all types of meat. If you look at just beef/red meat, the American average is between 70 -80/lbs/year (4th place in the world). (1, 2) That’s still a fifth of a pound each day per person per year.

Gluttony (in terms of food) is defined as excess eating. Meat gluttony then, is the excessive eating of meat.

Does eating more meat meat on average than most of the world seem excessive?

That depends – exceeding an average doesn’t necessarily indicate excess (after all, the average might actually be indicative of deficiency).

However, I would argue that 270 pounds per person per year is definitely excessive when it comes to meat. The resources required to produce that much meat are not reasonable when there are people that lack water and food. In addition to that, doctors, nutritionists, and cancer researchers all recommend consuming much less than the average American gets. (3, 4, 5)

I think you would be hard pressed to argue against the fact that, on average, America’s consumption of meat is gluttonous. We should eat less meat.



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