Meat is Eating Up The Planet: US Reaches 'Meat Exhaustion Day' Today

Americans are the biggest consumers of meat globally and the first nation to reach the milestone

Boston, MA, March 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the United States is the first country to reach “Meat Exhaustion Day”, surpassing its maximum annual meat intake for the year as recommended by the scientific EAT-Lancet Cpmmission.

Twice as much meat is consumed worldwide than the planet or people’s health can digest according to the latest findings by FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organization. Eating meat beyond the recommended amount not only has huge human health risks, the industry also causes massive suffering to animals, with 83.3 billion being slaughtered for meat every year. 

On average, a person in the US consumes almost 3.6 pounds of meat per week. This is the equivalent amount of meat in 14 burgers per person per week, making Americans the biggest consumers of meat in the world.

FOUR PAWS urges governments to phase out factory farming and set policy targets for a food system change that offers sustainable diets in line with planetary boundaries.  These policy targets would help alleviate the mass suffering of animals, the detrimental effects on human health, and pollution of soil, water, and air.

“We are biting off more than we can chew. Global meat consumption is eating up the planet, causing animal and human suffering,” says FOUR PAWS CEO and President Josef Pfabigan. Today, animal agriculture is responsible for one sixth of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the main drivers of deforestation, habitat loss, water use and pollution. “To fulfill planetary and health boundaries, global meat consumption and production must be halved. Especially governments of high-income countries are called upon to set clear targets for a more sustainable diet and to phase out factory farming. Each and every one of us can make a difference by reducing, refining and replacing animal-based products,” Pfabigan concludes, referring to choosing plant-based alternatives or switching to products with certified animal welfare standards.

Global North needs to cut meat consumption by 70%

High-income countries are the biggest drivers of global meat consumption. Globally, “Meat Exhaustion Day” will be reached on June 24, 2024, yet many countries of the Global North are exceeding their recommended maximum meat intake as early as March and April. While the trend to higher meat consumption is also beefing up in the Global South, some countries of this region, for example India or Uganda, do not reach “Meat Exhaustion Day” at all.

High cost of meat overconsumption in the United States

FOUR PAWS found that in the United States, five times the recommended amount of maximum meat intake is consumed each week. To reach climate and health boundaries, the EAT- Lancet Commission recommends a maximum weekly meat intake of 0.67 pounds / 301 grams, which would correspond to 2.5 burgers. The costs of meat overconsumption are high: According to the Center for Disease Control, 42% of the adult population in the US suffer from obesity, increasing associated diseases and mortality risks. Furthermore, 37% of all land in the United States is used for animal agriculture according to US Department of Agriculture data, with more than 9.73 billion animals being slaughtered in 2021, according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) data.

About Meat Exhaustion Day

Meat Exhaustion Day is calculated by comparing the average actual consumption of meat per person with the Planetary Health Diet, recommended by the renowned EAT Lancet Commission. This panel of international scientists give guidance for what would be a consumption pattern that provides healthy food for a growing world population, within planetary boundaries.   FOUR PAWS released a preliminary report in which a team of experts at FOUR PAWS took the Planetary Health Diet provided by the renowned EAT Lancet Commission and calculated the unique measurement tool.

For further information please go to the 2024 Meat Exhaustion Fact Sheet.


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