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Are we eating more or less meat nowadays?

05/02/2019

Are we eating more or less meat nowadays?

Cutting down on meat is something many people say they are striving to do nowadays. Initiatives like Veganuary and Meat-free Mondays are helping to drive the trend and highlight the benefits of consuming less meat.


But what’s the reality? Has meat consumption gone up or down over the past 50 years?


Well, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization data, meat production today is nearly five times higher than it was in the 1960s. That is down to two main factors: first, there are more people to feed today. Second, people around the world have become richer, which is associated with a rise in meat consumption.


In a nutshell, there are more people in the world and more of those people can afford to eat meat.


This is highlighted when you consider the countries that eat the most meat. For example, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina all have annual meat consumption levels of more than 100kg per person.


In fact, most countries in Western Europe have annual meat consumption levels of between 80kg and 90kg per person, while individuals in lower-income nations eat considerably less meat. For example, annual meat consumption levels in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nigerians are 7kg, 8kg and 9kg per person respectively.


The bottom line is that meat is still a luxury in many countries today.


So, despite the initiatives and the seeming shift to people consuming less meat, the reality is that meat consumption isn’t falling.


One point that is worthy of note, however, is that meat eating habits are changing. For example, in the West, people are eating more poultry and less red meat (namely beef and pork).


Have your meat eating habits changed in recent times? If they have, was it a conscious decision on your part?


[Related reading: Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer]

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