Half a Pound?

According to this NYT article on American meat consumption, Americans consume nearly 200 pounds of meat per capita each year, or roughly half a pound per day. Does anyone else find this utterly implausible? I average 8 to 10 ounces of meat per day, and as a six-foot-tall, 190-pound, decidedly non-vegetarian man on a low-carbohydrate diet, I figure I must be near the upper end of the distribution.

I suspect that the explanation is that the numbers the NYT uses don't take wastage into account--i.e., that the figure is how much is sold to consumers and restaurateurs, with the assumption that none of it is thrown away or fed to pets. But now I feel insecure about my...um...meat cred. Does this figure square with anyone else's experience?

Share this

10 oz a day ? You puny vegan

10 oz a day ? You puny vegan !

Seriously I do believe you're in the higher tranches. On average I eat about about a fourth of that, I'm 6'2 and over 200 pounds and I consider myself meat lover (most of my meat consumption will be over the weekend).

Three possible keys :

- Waste as you mention, coming from volatility in meat demand... Restaurants tend to be in places with high concentration of people where that volatility should not be so high.

- Sales to visitors (tourists, etc) are not taken into account.

- A distribution with a very fat (indeed) tail, i.e. a handful of people eating four times, five time as much meat than the average and a large righ-skew (people can't eat negative meat). In this kind of distribution, the mean is going to be widely different from the maximum likehood, it will not be representative at all of the typical consumption.

Hmm... I'm 6 ft 160 lbs

Hmm... I'm 6 ft 160 lbs (male) and very active. I eat a basically "paleo" diet (lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, eggs, meat) and usually get 160 grams of protein a day. But only between 8-10 oz from meat (chicken and fish, mostly). I'm not buying their numbers.

Did you notice the little bit on nutrition? Very, very low protein (30 grams?) and claiming that plant-based proteins are just as good? Welcome to the 1970's world of nutrition! Sheesh.

On the other hand, factory farms are a state subsidized environmental and animal welfare nightmare.


Are you the same anonymous as in the previous thread on cities? If so, can you pick an alias? (Or better yet, register and start posting; we need more content on the community aggregator.)  Before the move to TDR, I would delete all anonymous comments, but our stupid software has "anonymous" as the default name for some reason, and it would be hypocritical to delete anonymous comments. But I still don't like it.

Which Anonymous?

No, I'm not that other "Anonymous." I'm just lazy and, as you said, it's the default. I'll register, though. Thanks for the heads-up.


I just approved you.


I'm (one of) the anonymous commenters from the cities thread. I'll try to remember to use a handle from now on if I leave comments. Sorry for the confusion.

(I actually dislike anonymous comments in general, and usually when I comment elsewhere, I leave my true name. But as a grad student at a pretty highly regarded school in a somewhat stodgy field, I'm not totally sure I want to be found out in google as someone interested in floating cities and other 'strange' things.)

Anonymous vs nym

I like nyms. I don't like anonymous. Nyms can have reputations.

As with MDM, I encourage you to register with the site (and feel free to post on the community aggregator). If you were the one who pulled the stats on net migration to/from states, that was good shit.


OK, you convinced me (yeah, that was me with the migration stats).

Alright, now how about a post?

You're an econ grad student. You probably interesting stuff to share.

Quarter pounder

Americans consume nearly 200 pounds of meat per capita each year, or roughly half a pound per day. Does anyone else find this utterly implausible?

Well, a Quarter Pounder has a quarter pound of meat. And that's just one meal out of three. And BK sells double quarter pounders (or double Whoppers, I forget which is which, same amount of meat, I think). There's a half pound right there, in one meal. And if you go to a steak house, I think it's pretty common for the steak to be half a pound. As a daily diet it may be excessive, but evidently enough people eat a half pound of beef on enough days for it to be worth the time of restaurants and fast food franchises to serve it.

Seems pretty easy. Have a

Seems pretty easy. Have a modest sandwich with lunch and a modest serving of meat with dinner, and you've got a half-pound. As a low-carb guy who works out hard, I can put away a pound of meat a day without really trying, with eggs for breakfast. I'm not a large man, either.

Sure, it's possible...

I just don't think it's common. And it would have to be fairly common to balance out all the vegetarians, non-daily meat eaters, children, elderly, and small adults.

No, it doesn't have to be

No, it doesn't have to be common, there just need be a few big meat eaters. The distribution has to be skewed therefore it is perfectly natural that the mean doesn't look "common" or typical.