Before the days of Chicken McNuggets and Big Macs, American colonists relied on hunting wild animals for their meat supply. As technology advanced and domesticated livestock supplies increased people began to trade meat with the West Indies in exchange for molasses. Traders would use methods such as salting and smoking to preserve the meat in what would become known as “meat packing.” Eventually a man from Massachusetts named William Pynchon started the first commercial meat packing business which transported and packed large amounts of pork. As cities grew and the Industrial Revolution took hold, demand for meat increased at a rapid pace. This prompted the establishment of large cattle ranches which raised cattle and transported them via cattle trails to railroad stops. The trains would then take the cattle to packaging facilities in places like Cincinnati, Buffalo, Milwaukee and Chicago. Flash forward a couple hundred years and meat is a central part of the United States’ culture, diet and economy. The average American consumes 200.6 lbs of meat per year placing the United States in second place for global per capita meat consumption. In 2015 US beef exports totaled $5.6 billion dollars. When you consider that animal agriculture is at the forefront of perpetuating problems like global hunger, natural resource depletion and climate change these numbers are quite alarming. As American consumers we are in a unique position of influence to address the problems caused by the meat industry. We have a responsibility to inform ourselves on the impacts of our consumer decisions and adjust our actions accordingly.