Makeover Monday week 1, 2018: US per capita consumption of poultry and livestock

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Happy New Year and welcome to another year of Makeover Monday and creating better data stories. As I am still handicapped post-surgery and typing/doing everything single-handedly, i.e. with my left arm and hand only, expect these blogs to be a bit shorter than usual 🙂

For the first week of Makeover Monday Andy chose meat consumption data from the US. As we’re kicking off 2018, it is my hope that lots of people embrace a lifestyle that is healthier and kinder to animals, our environment and our fellow-humans.

Let’s have a look at the original visualization and what it tells us…




What works well:

  • A neat, simple line chart
  • A clear title
  • Use of distinct colours to differentiate between the animals
  • Great labelling of the y-axis with the unit as the axis title at the top explaining the values


What could be improved:

  • Categorising animals into lifestock vs poultry means it would make more sense to use the burgundy and pinkish colour for pigs and cows and the blue for chickens so colours align with categories
  • Adding ‘since 1967’ into the title or as part of a subtitle would help explain the x-axis
  • The gridlines are not necessary
  • While it is probably not the intention of the author to document the ridiculous level of overall meat consumption, this chart for me underplays how much meat is being consumed per person every year
  • Why are only three animals included in the analysis? Surely ‘lifestock’ and ‘poultry’ should include a lot more…


What I did:

  • A simple dashboard which still took a couple of hours because of my one-armedness
  • Looked at the increase in meat consumption for read meet and poultry to stick with the same data as the original
  • Aimed to highlight the strong increase in consumption of chicken meat which overcompensated for the drop in red meat consumption
  • Tried to be guided by the simplicity of Charlie’s bar chart designs



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