Americans are eating less meat — New York Times

Mark Bittman -- New York Times

Mark Bittman of the New York Times brought us plant-based 4Leaf-ers some good news this week; (See link to article below my signature) he reported that Americans are definitely beginning to eat less meat.

After declining for several years, the Department of Agriculture projects that our meat and poultry consumption will fall again this year, to about 12.2 percent less in 2012 than it was in 2007

Beef consumption has been in decline for about 20 years; the drop in chicken is even more dramatic, over the last five years or so; pork also has been steadily slipping for about five years.

While it may be hard for most of us to detect, given the vast array of meat choices everywhere we go, the numbers don’t lie. But they beg the question, “Why is our meat consumption dropping?” The meat people are blaming the decline on anything and everything — and especially the government. They actually claim that the Feds have been “waging war on meat protein for the past thirty or forty years.” Waging war? Mark took exception to that one and provided the following list of the battle plan of that alleged war on animal protein by our nation’s government:

The raising of beef; one of the most wasteful and harmful practices in the history of the world. This picture appeared in another Mark Bittman article a few years ago about "the meat guzzler."

  • a history of subsidies for the corn and soy that’s fed to livestock
  • a nearly free pass on environmental degradation and animal abuse
  • an unwillingness to meaningfully limit the use of antibiotics in animal feed
  • a failure to curb the stifling power that corporate meatpackers wield over smaller ranchers
  • and what amounts to a refusal — despite the advice of real, disinterested experts, true scientists in fact —  to unequivocally tell American consumers that they should be eating less meat

Actually, Mark, they should be eating no meat, but thank you for your noble effort to shed some light on this miserable topic. Not only is our government definitely not waging war on the meat industry, they are also not telling us that well over 90% of heart disease and type 2 diabetes could be easily, and swiftly, reversed with a whole foods, plant-based diet. They also fail to tell us that most cancers can either be prevented, slowed or even reversed with that same diet.

Mark mentions that “Nowhere does it (the report) mention that we’re eating less meat because we want to eat less meat.” Yes, the word is beginning to creep out ever so slowly that meat is simply not good for us. But since most people consider meat to be beef or pork, they naturally assume that seafood or even chicken is okay. Actually, I was surprised to see that chicken consumption is declining.

Incomparable! Everyone should own a copy of this world-changing book.

So what is driving the decline? It’s great to see that in spite of all that our government is doing to protect our meat and dairy industries, people are beginning to make up their own minds about what is best for them and their families. I would like to think that some of those better food choices have been driven by many concurrent activities:

My top ten list

  1. The fact that almost one million Americans have read The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell — a truly eye-opening book that should be in everyone’s home.
  2. Bill Clinton’s choice in 2010 to switch to an almost vegan diet after reading that book and also the books by Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish on reversing heart disease.
  3. The publicity for plant-based eating provided by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah, Chelsea Clinton and a host of others.
  4. The well-publicized successes of a handful of pioneering MD’s that have been curing patients with broccoli and oatmeal for decades: McDougall, Furhman, Ornish, Esselstyn and others.
  5. The tireless efforts of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine headed by Dr. Neal Barnard in Washington, D.C.
  6. The explosive growth of Dr. Campbell’s plant-based nutrition course at Cornell. Actually it’s only administered by eCornell but is managed by his own foundation at It was dropped from the Cornell curriculum because of pressure from the meat and dairy industries from which they receive enormous sums of money.
  7. The recent success of the 2010 movie, Forks Over Knives, starring Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn.
  8. The Last Heart Attack special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta that aired several times on CNN in late 2011.
  9. Thousands of great vegan restaurants springing up across the land — like the Elephant Walk in Boston or the Candle Cafe in New York, where the super cool people are beginning to frequent on a regular basis.
  10. The tireless efforts by many great organizations like VegSource and authors like John Robbins who have been spreading the good word about plant-based foods for decades.

The bottom line. Things are beginning to move in the right direction. But not nearly fast enough in my opinion. Yesterday, I spoke to a fairly sophisticated group of Rotarians at a club in coastal CT. No one in the room had heard about Bill Clinton changing his diet, The China Study, or the Sanjay Gupta special. No one had ever heard of Dr. Dean Ornish, who is arguably America’s most famous “real doctor,” appearing on the cover of Newsweek in 1999.

After my 20-minute talk, one of the Rotarians led off with the old protein question, for which I thanked him. He is the President of Madison Chrysler in Madison, CT and is now the proud owner of two copies of our book. He also has a 2005 Bentley for sale in his showroom — a cream puff with only 10,000 miles. Ask for Tom, the asking price is only $70,000.

J. Morris Hicks, author and activist. Working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

One more thing; you really should take a look at the Bittman article; it’s really quite good. See bold link below.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

Want to receive some occasional special news from us? You may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page.

And if you like what 4-Leaf eating is doing for you and your family, you might enjoy visiting our new “4-Leaf Gear” store. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

We’re Eating Less Meat. Why? –

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About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to Americans are eating less meat — New York Times

  1. Mitzi says:

    Some of the tendency to eat less meat may be due to the increasing number of huge recalls we see on the news regularly for tainted and contaminated meat products. Or the arsenic in chicken. Or the horrid smell of some parts of the Interstate when driving through Midwestern states with CAFOs. There are lots of reasons to minimize it or eliminate it.
    I don’t eat it anymore because I have done gastrointestinal research related to colon cancer, and every epidemiological paper going back to Burkitt is quite clear: fiber (from food) lowers risk. Red and processed meat raise risk. The only papers to state otherwise are metanalyses sponsored by the meat industry, and do not use the terms “red” or “processed” meat in their searches. Eat a variety of whole plant foods for most of your intake, and your colon (and its bacterial population) will love you.

  2. Bill K. says:


    It is kind of funny that in the group of Rotarians that you spoke to, none had been familier with some of the vegan authors or info. I find that when I give a talk to a group that most of the Men in the group are less familier with the concept of the Vegan diet than the Women are. Not sure why but it could be because of shows like Oprah or Dr. Oz which they are more likely to watch or even in some of the Womens magazines which feature articles about the Vegan diet or reducing the use of Meat. Also, I think women in general seem to be more interested in health and wellness. Unfortunetly, this has lead more of them to the medical cures and they are quicker to head to the pharmacy instead of the produce aisle. Hopefully this trend is changing. About a year ago the cover story on Food and Wine magazine proclaimed “Vegetables – the new trend in food” Other than the fact that this should not have to be proclaimed as a “new trend” this is a good sign from a magazine that usually features a lot of recipes for meat.

    On another note: Have you had a chance to read the book on Cancer by Ty Bollinger called “Cancer: Step outside the box” It is very well written and contains some interesting info on the medical industry. I highly recommend it along with your book.

    Bill K.

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