Polls Show More U.S. Adults Are Eating Less Meat
In recent years, consumers of all ages are reporting changes in their consumption of meat, according to results from a poll conducted in partnership by NPR and Truven Health Analytics. This ongoing partnership surveys U.S. households on a bi-monthly basis in an effort to gauge attitudes and awareness of various health related issues. The data collected is used to inform policy and help different agencies, such as hospitals and governments, make decisions that directly affect the health and well-being of people in the U.S. and around the world.
One of the polls they’ve conducted focuses on meat consumption and the reasons why people make changes in their consumption habits. This survey was conducted in 2012 and again in 2015, and provides some useful insights for animal advocates.
In both the 2012 and 2015 polls, over 30% of participants (2012: 39.1%, 2015: 32.1%) indicated that they were eating less meat at the time of the poll than they had in the previous three years. Interestingly, participants over 65 years of age claimed to reduce their meat consumption the most, with 50.0% indicating they were eating less in 2012, and 42.8% eating less in 2015. Although all age ranges have shown some reduction in the amount of meat consumed, advocates could benefit from focusing on this particular demographic.
Perhaps even more encouraging is the finding that about a third of all respondents in both 2012 and 2015 stated that they would like to decrease the amount of meat they’re consuming. In the over 65 years range, 18.3% (2015) and 24.2% (2012) wanted to eat less meat. Participants under 35, however, showed the largest desire to eat less (40.7% in 2015 and 30% in 2012).
There are a few different factors that poll participants stated as the reason for a change in their meat consumption, including health, animal welfare, environmental impact, and cost. For all age ranges, the effects that eating meat can have on one’s health was cited as the main reason for wanting to eat less. 60.4% of all participants in 2015 and 66.2% in 2012 indicated this factor as a reason for their reduction. Second to health and wellness was cost, with 51.8% being concerned about this factor in 2015 and 47.4% in 2012.
Not all participants responding to the polls indicated that they’ve reduced the amount of meat they are consuming. Some indicated that they’ve increased their consumption or that they are eating the same amount. These participants were asked if they were concerned about any of the issues that were causing other participants to eat less, citing the cost of meat and animal welfare, followed closely by environmental impact as top concerns.
The results of these polls could be beneficial when determining different demographics to target during advocacy efforts. Individual health and cost of meat, in addition to animal welfare, would be useful issues to focus on when directing campaigns at those who are already reducing their meat consumption––health in particular is a primary driving force in those that are consuming less. For those who are not yet reducing meat consumption, the survey does indicate cost, animal welfare and the environment are concerns, thus, ensuring these issues are highlighted in campaigns focussing on current meat eaters would be beneficial. Campaigns such as “Meatless Monday” have been shown to be beneficial in getting people to eat less meat a little at a time, and perhaps making sure to pair the cost savings and personal health benefits with these campaigns would be useful. Regardless of the demographic that animal advocacy campaigns may be directed at, the results meat consumption polls by Truven Health Analytics and NPR will be useful to consider.