Why is meat eating so prevalent in Western Culture?

why is eating meat so common in the west

If you were to approach a random individual, chances are, they’re more likely to eat meat than follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. But why is this? 

With all the information we have on how food is produced, knowledge on how to get nutrition without meat, and general morals. Let’s explore this further in this post on why eating meat is so ingrained in modern culture. 

Accessibility and convenience

Over the past few centuries, we’ve come a long way. From eating a basic diet of corn, beef, butter and bread (only 200 years ago), we’re now able to enjoy a wide variety of foods from all around the world from the comfort of our local supermarket. 

Among those foods are meat-based products, which are typically cheap, easy options for those who simply want something to eat. During world war 2 for instance, it was a lot more efficient to ration per calorie, regardless of what source those calories come from. 

With that, and the industrial revolution, as meat production went up, so did the demand for it. 

Meat was considered a delicacy

Although there are many example of cheap meat-based foods, meat was not always the cheap alternative we see it to be today. In fact, meat was a food that was mainly enjoyed by the affluent, and those who could afford it. 

Think about it, when you envision a fancy restaurant, people most likely choose a steak house as their go to. This isn’t by accident. As the economy started growing and capitalism started kicking in, people grew accustomed to a lifestyle of eating meat, somewhat of a status symbol. 

Now with capitalism at an all time popularity, it’s the norm. 

Outdated views on nutrition

As mentioned earlier, animal flesh is more often than not very calorie dense. Usually rich in protein, fat and calories, meat is typically eaten to help one feel full, or “satisfied”. 

That being said, with the Western world’s view on nutrition and average diet, there’s also a lack of nutritional education that takes place when it comes to meat consumption. One example is the misconception that vegan food is deficient in protein. 

A hundred years ago, you may have been able to get away with telling people that you needed meat for protein, but not in the 21st century… Meat was viewed as a highly nutritious food, red meat in particular being eaten for nutrients such as iron. 

With modern research, we have educated ourselves on how harmful long-term consumption of red meat can be. Not only that, but that a vegan diet can help an individual not only get all their nutrients, but a cleaner, non recycled source of nourishment, without the unwanted side effects that comes with red meat, and other animal-based foods. 

If you lived in a household like I was raised in, you’d get your mum telling you to “eat all your meat”, with no real reason why. It’s clear that outdated views on nutrition holds a key influence on why society still prevalently eats meat. 

Cave drawings

Being taught in school that cavemen ate meat which led to evolution of our brains to where we are today, gives more people an incentive to eat meat. But what they conveniently leave out of the equation, is that complex carbohydrates may have had an even more significant impact on the evolution of our cognition and overall species. 

Cave drawings and ancient tools will depict our ancestors hunting down large animals and feeding the whole village with that. It’s not wander it’s ingrained in culture, it’s seen as a way to bring people together. 

Why do you think people eat Turkey during Christmas and thanksgiving? Well for Christmas it’s because Henry the 8th made the bird a staple for the festive season. Nonetheless, it’s clear people like to eat large animals with families to bring them all together, in a similar way.

Symbol of masculinity

Going along with the previous point, in history we also viewed eating meat as masculine. This is due to men back then going out and hunting down animals, to feed the village. 

Understandably, going out and risking your life to feed others was viewed as a masculine trait. The key difference nowadays though, is that men don’t hunt their meat down and feed the village. They buy their meat prepackaged and already killed by someone else. 

The thing that stuck however, is the stigma that eating meat is a masculine thing to do. Likely because of the high protein content making men who ate meat bigger (or stronger) back then. But in today’s society, the higher the meat consumption, correlates with more disease (or weakness), as well as other male-related issues such as colon cancer and ED – yikes. 

Propaganda and marketing

With all those reasons in mind, there is one sole reason why meat consumption is so prevalent in culture. It’s because of marketing, non-stop, all day, promoting meat products. 

Whether it’s in the form of a burger, a psychologically addictive food which has, fat, protein, carbs and sugar, or sausages, chicken, or whatever else. They’ve even made it so meat consumption is normalised for each meal of the day. 

Don’t believe me? Try to go into an every day breakfast spot and see the options. Then try a place that serves brunch, lunch and supper and see if you don’t get the same results. 

The sandwich aisle in the grocery store, the takeaway spots in your local area, all dominated by meat products. Propaganda and marketing goes even deeper than that. 

Not only in ads, but also in schools you’re taught about the food pyramid, sponsored by meat and dairy companies to convince young minds that that’s the way to properly eat – That protein sources can only be found in meat… They also provide milk to young children from a young age, it’s not like they’re going to make up their mind when so young. 

Why does the Western world eat so much meat?

All in all, the Western world eats a lot of meat because of a variety of reasons. Whether it’s the inability to let go of old habits, or because of human psychology being manipulated by marketing. 

Coming from a household that ate meat with most meals, I came out of that lifestyle simply by educating myself on better eating habits and take action on it. 

I would be a hypocrite if I judged those that eat meat, I’m only here to plant seeds and hope that people that the advice to add more fruit and vegetables in your diet, and less flesh. 

I hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for considering Veganising it for your vegan lifestyle inspiration. If you liked this article, please share with a friend or loved one, it really helps get the word out there.