I'm not a doctrinaire vegetarian (I willingly eat meat at restaurants or when no other alternative is available), but I have to say the idea that the average American consumers eight ounces of meat per day is, well, frankly disgusting. I assume that is uncooked, but it would still equal two large hamburgers per day, or half a chicken. How in the world did we get to the point where that is the average?
That level of consumption makes no sense: It's expensive, it's categorically unnecessary and even harmful for good health, has horrific consequences for the environment... and, gosh darn it, the real kicker here, most meat that I see sold in restaurants and grocery stores is of low quality and is usually poorly prepared... So, it does not even TASTE good. I remember vaguely the last hamburger I had at McDonalds. It was salty, warm, greasy, and it tasted fine, but not particularly beefy, and it surely did not excite me to eat more...
Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler - New York Times:
"Americans eat about the same amount of meat as we have for some time, about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average. At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total.
Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.
To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days."