Method/Source: Using estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the established baseline is about 936 pounds of animals and animal byproducts consumed as food per person every year. This is the sum of the “peak” consumption years within the last 5 years for each type of meat, including beef, veal, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish, as well as dairy and eggs. The score calculates how much this number has reduced compared with the baseline by taking the difference between the baseline figure and the current number, as a proportion of the baseline figure.
Per capita consumption of animal products
Discussion: Demand for meat, dairy, and egg products has created a massive animal farming industry in which the largest numbers of animals are killed in the U.S. each year. Given the health benefits of a diet free of animal products, the environmental costs of producing meat, dairy, and eggs, the vast numbers of animals who die for food, and the amount of suffering endured by farm animals, a goal of many animal advocates is to reduce and eventually eliminate the consumption of animals and their byproducts.
To establish a baseline of peak consumption in the past five years, we totaled the peak consumption of each animal species, dairy, and eggs. The most recent year for which complete data is available from the USDA is 2008, when an estimated total of 920 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs was “available” per person (using the USDA’s language). This is a slight reduction from the peak of 936 pounds and is about 2% closer to the goal of no meat, eggs, or dairy.