HSUS just updated its annually-released USA slaughter totals, and the news is better than anyone could reasonably expect. In 2011, more than one billion fewer land animals were killed in the United States than in 2008. We’ve dropped from 9.5 to 8.4 billion victims.
Higher meat prices, flexitarians, Meatless Mondays, and dramatically expanding vegetarian food options surely deserve a lot of the credit. Most of this change is surely being driven by the fact that tens of millions of Americans are now regularly eating vegetarian meals—whereas just five years ago they would have recoiled at the very idea. (Via Vegan Outreach.) Link.
Update: I misread the chart, and the 8.4 billion number is only through the end of November. That puts the likely year-end total at between 9.1 and 9.2 billion. While that’s little changed from 2010, it’s still probably about 250 million fewer animals for the year than 2008. Also, given the growing US population, any year slaughter totals remain unchanged mean less killing per capita. (Thanks, Andrew, Eitan, Maren, & Yuri.)