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How Has Meat Consumption Changed over Time?

Per capita meat consumption has more than doubled worldwide since 1961. Likewise, the world meat supply has almost quadrupled since the 1960s. This has had a significant effect on the environment — livestock production is responsible for one-fifth of the world's greenhouse gases, which is more than is generated by transportation. Additionally, impoverished areas are experiencing famine, because the majority of the world's corn and soybeans are now going for livestock feed.

More facts on meat:

  • The average American eats about 200 pounds (about 90 kg) of meat, poultry and fish per year. This is about twice the global average.

  • American livestock production generates about 900 million tons (about 800 billion kg) of waste annually. That's about 3 tons (about 2,700 kg) per American per year. Most of the waste is stored in giant lagoons until it can be disposed of through use as fertilizer or until it naturally decomposes.

  • Meat has a large carbon footprint. Researchers found that producing 2.2 pounds of beef burns enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for 20 days.

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