A new survey from Gallup released today shows that nearly one-quarter of the population (23 percent) is eating less meat, or say they have cut back on meat in the past 12 months. About 72 percent of Americans have been eating the same amount of meat in the past year and only 5 percent say they've been eating more meat. Non-whites lead the way in giving up meat, with 31 percent saying they've done so, and women are eating less meat than men, at 31 percent to 15 percent respectively.

Women, Democrats, and non-whites are all reducing their meat consumption

The highlights: Almost one-third of women, non-whites, and Democrats all say they're ditching the meat—at least partially. Meanwhile, the number one reason given for eating less meat is health and wellbeing. The second reason is to help the planet and because of the impact agricultural farming has on climate change.

Just how much meat they're not eating isn't clear. People say they are consuming smaller portions, making substitutes in favorite recipes, or finding other popular ways to avoid meat—such as eating meat alternatives. The full picture of who is eating less meat is below. The other notable aspect of the poll is that people over the age of 65 are among the largest population of "reducetarians" and people in the west and Democrats outnumber those in the middle of the country or Republicans.

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Gallup goes on to explain:

Asked how often they eat meat—such as beef, chicken or pork—two in three U.S. adults say they eat it "frequently" (67%) while 23% say they eat meat "occasionally" and 7% "rarely" eat it. Just 3% report "never" eating meat. So the number of vegans isn't rising but the number of "reducetarians" is on the upswing.

Certain groups are more likely than others to say they have eaten less meat:

  • Women are about twice as likely as men to report having cut down on meat consumption.
  • Non-whites report having reduced meat in their diets at a higher rate than whites.
  • Midwesterners are less likely to be reducing their meat consumption than adults in other parts of the country.
  • About one in four residents of cities and suburbs have reduced their meat consumption, while residents in rural areas are less likely to report having done so.

The survey found out that chicken is growing in popularity over beef and pork. 

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that pork and beef were the most popular meats for most of the last century, but chicken sharply gained in popularity over time, eventually becoming the top consumed meat in recent years. From a global perspective, the U.S. regularly ranks among the top countries for meat consumption.

Americans' reports of eating less meat don't necessarily mean vegetarianism is on the rise. In fact, Gallup's latest reading on this found 5% of Americans consider themselves vegetarian, similar to the rate over the past 20 years.

The top reason for giving up meat is health concerns.

Gallup also asked Americans who refrain from eating meat—either by cutting back on their usual amount or by foregoing it completely—whether each of seven potential factors was "major" or "minor" reasons for avoiding meat.

The biggest factor in reducing meat consumption is health concerns—nine in 10 say it is a major (70%) or minor reason (20%) they are cutting back on meat.

Environmental concerns are the next most prominent factor leading to lowering one's meat consumption. Seven in 10 say concerns about the environment are behind their avoidance of meat (49%  say it is a major reason, and 21% say it's a minor one).

Other reasons for eating less meat: Food safety (43% major, 22% minor consideration) and animal welfare (41% major, 24% minor motivation).

Less common reasons for avoiding meat: Convenience due to other family members' eating habits (16% say it's a major reason, while 24% say it's a minor reason) and that they see other people eating less, little or no meat (15% say it's a major reason, 19% say it's a minor reason).

Religious reasons were the least cited motivation for cutting back on meat consumption (12% say major, 17% say minor reason).