BY JESS THOMSON
Despite the great strides made by the vegetarian and vegan movements over the past few decades, most Americans aren’t going to give up their meat-based diets anytime soon.
An exclusive poll of 1,500 eligible U.S. voters conducted for Newsweek by Redfield and Wilton Strategies on May 17 found that a majority of Americans regularly eat meat and believe that it’s a healthy choice. They also said the meat industry is not that bad for the climate.
The polling also found that 81 percent of people eat meat at least once a week, and 10 percent said that they ate it only once or twice a month. Only 4 and 3 percent of the respondents said that they rarely or never ate meat, respectively.
Other questions revealed that 35 percent of people strongly agreed with the statement that it’s healthy to eat meat, with 41 percent selecting “agree” and 17 percent selecting “neither agree nor disagree.” Only 4 percent said that they disagreed, and a further 1 percent said that they strongly disagreed.
But eating meat, particularly red meat and processed meat, is less than healthy for our bodies. There is a link between increased consumption of red and processed meats and a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death, according to the Harvard Health Publishing website.
The polling also showed that while 34 percent of people believe that eating less red meat would help lower global carbon emissions, 40 percent said that they did not believe this. Twenty-six percent said they weren’t sure.
The meat industry, especially the cattle industry, produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases. A paper published in the online journal Nature Food found that raising cows, pigs and other animals for food is responsible for 57 percent of all food production carbon emissions, twice as high as those created by all plant-based food production. Beef alone accounts for a quarter of food production emissions.
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