Which country consumes the most meat in the world?

Two-thirds of Americans claim to stop or limit eating meat, however, this is still one of the countries with the highest meat consumption in the world.

Limiting or cutting meat completely is a worldwide trend recently. This is a human effort to become healthier, reduce the impact on the environment and increase animal welfare. According to the BBC, one-third of Britons announced to stop eating meat or restrict it, while two-thirds of Americans say they are eating very little meat.

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What we know is that meat consumption has increased rapidly over the past 50 years. Meat production is nearly five times higher today than in the early 1960s - from 70 million tons to more than 330 million tons in 2017. When comparing consumption rates between different countries, we find that the richer the country is, the more meat is eaten.

In 2013, the US and Australia topped the list of the world's largest meat consumers, with 100 kilograms per person, equivalent to about 50 chickens or half a cow.

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In fact, high levels of meat consumption are visible in Western countries, with most Western European countries consuming between 80 and 90 kilograms of meat per person. Meanwhile, low-income countries are different. The average Ethiopian consumes only 7 kg per person, Rwandans is 8 kg and Nigeria is 9 kg.

Rapidly developing countries like China and Brazil have confirmed significant economic growth in recent years and increased meat consumption. In the 1960s, a Chinese person consumed less than 5 kg a year. By the end of the 1980s, this number had increased to 20 kg and has recently tripled to 60 kg per year. The same thing happened in Brazil, the amount of meat consumed nearly doubled since 1990.

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An exception in this survey is India. Although the average income has tripled since 1990, Indian meat consumption did not increase. Two-thirds of Indians do not eat meat, on average each person eats less than 4 kg of meat per year, which is the lowest in the world. This may be due in part to cultural and religious factors in this country.

Many people in Europe and North America say they are trying to cut meat, but they are not in fact. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, per capita, meat consumption has actually increased over the past few years. US meat consumption in 2018 has nearly reached its highest level in decades. It is similar in European countries.

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Moderate consumption of meat can improve people's health, especially in low-income countries, where diets are not diverse. Nevertheless, in many countries, meat consumption exceeds basic nutritional benefits.

Many studies show that excessive consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Therefore, a great change in the level of meat consumption and balance between countries is essential. That means not only changes in the types of meat but also how much we eat.

By: Kelly Jonas

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