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Climate Change and the American Diet


1. Food Choices and Eating Habits

1.1 About half of Americans eat vegetables, grains, and/or dairy almost every day or more frequently. 

Americans, on average, report that they eat vegetables, grains, dairy, and fruit more frequently than they eat meat. Specifically, 53% of Americans say they eat vegetables almost every day or more frequently, and 48% say they eat grains (bread, pasta, rice, etc.) and/or dairy products (milk, cheese, etc.) at those rates. Forty-one percent of Americans say they eat fruit almost every day or more frequently.

In contrast, 13% of Americans say they eat eggs almost every day or more frequently, with an additional 38% eating eggs two to five times per week. Similarly, 12% of Americans eat poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.) almost every day or more frequently, with an additional 56% eating it two to five times per week. Eight percent of Americans say they eat beef (steak, ground beef, etc.) almost every day or more frequently and an additional 33% eat beef two to five times per week.

Fewer Americans eat plant-based meat/dairy alternatives. Ten percent of Americans use plant-based dairy alternatives (soy milk, almond milk, etc.) every day or more frequently, with an additional 10% using them two to five times per week. Only 3% of Americans eat plant-based meat alternatives (products made with soy, potatoes, peas, etc.) every day or more frequently, with an additional 6% eating them two to five times per week. Majorities of Americans say they “never or almost never” eat tofu (82%), plant-based meat alternatives (72%), or use plant-based dairy alternatives (59%).

Most Americans (81%) say they prefer meals with meat (beef, chicken, fish, etc.) and/or dairy, and 4% of Americans describe themselves as either “vegetarian” (3%) or “vegan” (1%; see Appendix I, p. 25).

 

1.2 American most frequently eat home-cooked dinners.

Most Americans say they eat dinner that they or someone in their household prepared and cooked at home (excluding pre-made and frozen meals) either every day or almost every day (43%) or about two to five times per week (41%). Fewer say they eat fast food for dinner two to five times per week or more frequently (11%) or eat out for dinner at a restaurant (other than fast food) at that frequency (10%).

Few Americans say they frequently order take-out for dinner through food delivery apps (DoorDash, Uber Eats, etc.) or delivery services provided by restaurants, or eat dinner at home prepared with ingredients supplied by food delivery services (Blue Apron, Home Chef, etc.).