12% of Americans are eating half of the nation’s beef

Men and Older Americans Eat the Most Beef, businessinsider.com, Catherine Boudreau

Just 12% of Americans are eating half of the nation’s beef — the ‘Hummer of animal proteins.’

  • A study found twelve percent of Americans are eating half of all the beef consumed in the US in a day.
  • Fifty- to sixty-five-year-old men are most likely to eat beef.
  • Some benefits could be had for the planet if some people ditched beef for another protein.

Americans savoring the last bits of summer on Labor Day weekend might have been barbecuing, picnicking, or trying a new restaurant.

If so, there is a good chance beef is on the menu, especially for men or people ages 50 to 65. On average, teenage boys also consume more meat, poultry, and eggs than is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

These two groups were more likely to eat a disproportionate amount of beef in a day, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal “Nutrients.” About 12% of Americans reported that kind of diet and account for half the nation’s beef consumption that day.

The study was partially funded by the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity. It helped target educational and marketing campaigns encouraging more climate-friendly diets. Coauthor of the study and professor and nutrition program director, Diego Rose of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, revealed this fact to Insider.

The food and agriculture industry accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions globally which is driven in part by cattle burping methane and requiring vast swaths of land in which to graze. Beef produces an estimated 8 to 10 times more emissions than chicken, and 50 times more than beans. Diego Rose . . . (there is controversy on how much pollution [methane] results from cattle burping)

“Beef is an environmentally extravagant protein. It’s kind of like the Hummer of animal proteins.”

He added, he did not expect such a small percentage of Americans to account for an outsized amount of beef consumption.

“This was a big surprise to us.”

A “disproportionate” amount of beef was defined as four or more ounces a day or similar to a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder before it’s cooked. US Agriculture Department guidelines suggest eating four ounces per day of meat, poultry, and eggs combined for those eating 2,200 calories in a day.

Researchers also analyzed data from a federal nutrition survey asking more than 10,000 adults to report what they ate during the previous 24-hour period. Rose acknowledged a limitation of the study, because what people ate in one day might not be typical of their regular diets.

Still, the findings suggest there could be big benefits for the planet even if only a small number of people swap out beef for another protein. After all, the US is the second-largest beef consumer per-capita in the world behind Argentina.

Some people will be resistant to change, Rose said. Also noting beef is often entangled with the culture wars and the American identity. But others might not realize how much they’re eating and be open to substituting another protein with a lower carbon footprint for beef.

Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Demographic and Socioeconomic Correlates of Disproportionate Beef Consumption among US Adults in an Age of Global Warming, mdpi.com, Amelia Willits-Smith, Harmonii Odinga, Keelia O’Malley, Donald Rose