Eating vegan for the New Year might be trendy, but Americans aren't about to go meatless anytime soon. In fact, the opposite trend is rising; this year, Americans are predicted to eat more meat than ever before.
PETA's not going to be happy about this one. According to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture, the former record for the most red meat and poultry Americans ate per capita was set in 2004 at 221.9 pounds per year. In 2018, this number is predicted to soar above and beyond to 222.2 pounds. That's a whole lot of burgers.
America's health is always a growing concern, but this could be a step in the wrong direction. The government recommends eating 5 to 6.5 ounces of protein per day - but these new predictions foresee adults devouring close to 10 from red meat and poultry alone.
To keep up with the growing demand, the meat industry has had to beef up. Domestic meat production will surpass 100 billion pounds for the first time in American history, pushing large-scale farmers to shrug away from pressures to go cage-free and use more costly feed.
Meatless proteins have upped their game, as well. Companies like Beyond Meat have conjured products like the Impossible Burger, reportedly imitating meat frighteningly well in both appearance and texture. Other efforts have produced plant-based versions of shrimp, dairy, and other animal products. However, these inventions don't seem to have had an effect on overall consumer behavior.
The USDA notes that, rather than being a precisely accurate measure, this data "is a popular proxy for actual food consumption and is especially useful for those interested in time series data." Still, we doubt their numbers are too far off - with the rise of paleo, an old adherence to low-carb, and the Whole30 making its annual January comeback, meat-heavy diets are more popular than ever.
Plus, with chicken, steak, and ham prices sliding further into affordable territory, the incentive to eat less meat to save money is quickly fading from consumer memory.
Something about meat is just too tempting to resist - maybe it's one of the big fast-food chains' seductive little secrets that keep Americans lining up for more.