Living up to our global reputation as gluttonous carnivores, Americans are poised to eat a record amount of meat this year. The USDA estimates the average person will eat  222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018, beating out a record set in 2004.  If you do the math, that works out to about 10 ounces of meat a day, nearly double the recommended serving of 5 to 6.5 ounces. That’s a lot of meat!

At the same time, we’ll be farming over 100 million pounds of meat products in the United States alone, another record-setting number. Eggs and dairy will also be in high demand.

So what’s to blame for these stratospheric projections? Falling meat prices are one factor, as are the rise of trendy, high-protein diets.  Though be forewarned: Carb-cutting can certainly be beneficial, but when consuming meat in such high volume, some of which are pretty fatty to begin with, the health benefits are essentially negated.

If you’re a vegetarian, or just looking for a more compassionate and environmentally conscious alternative to your standard burger, never fear. The sale of products that mimic meat are also expected to reach all-time highs. High-tech innovations and experimentation with plant-based proteins have led to more faux meat options than ever before. Items like The Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat even “bleed” when you cut them, something your basic tofu could never achieve. Market research from Euromonitor International confirms this trend with the retail value of meat substitutes likely to surpass 700 million this year. Fast food restaurants and casual dining options like McDonald’s and TGI Fridays are even expanding their offerings, as these innovations go mainstream.

While these projections are high, they’re still unlikely to make a dent in the sales of actual meat. And yet it’s still an important food development to watch (especially with all those New Year’s resolutions to cut back on the real stuff) even if classic steak and milkshakes never go out of style.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jessica is a former Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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