I’m no vegan. I believe that the only truly sustainable agriculture involves raising crops along with animals. I also adore the globe’s cooking traditions, most of which involve integrating meat and/or dairy products with vegetables, grains, and spices.

And yet, I’m appalled by this fact, from the USDA:

In 2005, total meat consumption (red meat, poultry, and fish) amounted to 200 pounds per person, 22 pounds above the level in 1970.

Two hundred pounds per year works out to more than half a pound per person every day. That’s got to be out of balance — for our bodies and the planet alike. I can’t see how such ravenous consumption can be sustained without the many environmental, social, and public-health ills I try to keep up with in my “Meat Wagon” series of posts.

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That’s why I’m glad that Mark Bittman, one of our very best food writers and author of the essential Minimalist column in The New York Times, recently began seriously questioning our heavy meat consumption. This week, he’s got a column on “putting meat back in its place.” The only thing I’d add to his suggestions is this: While cutting back on meat, try to source what you do buy from pasture-based, diversified farms.

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