Our Obsession With Meat: A Global Study

It’s no surprise that red meat consumption is on the rise. It’s been this way for a number of years, and despite a recent increase in vegetarianism and veganism across the western world, the demand for red meat has never been higher.

As a result of the increase, there is now an imminent cause for concern. Not only from a health perspective (red meat is classified as a Group 2A carcinogen and is linked to the development of bowel and stomach cancer) but from an ecological one too.

According to Ourworldindata.org, the farming of red meat livestock such as cows and sheep is responsible for releasing approximately 221g of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere for every gram of protein produced. Compare this to poultry at 31.75g and the differences are quite obvious.

That same study also states that over a metreĀ² of land is required for every gram of protein produced from red meat – a real hair-raising stat when the same amount of protein can be obtained from pulses with just 0.01mĀ² of land.

Is Red Meat Bad For You?

Going back to the health implications of consuming red meat, not only is it pegged as a carcinogen associated with certain cancers, but it’s high in saturated fats which can raise cholesterol levels and ultimately put you at higher risk of obesity and heart disease. As a result, the NHS and the Department of Health recommend that you eat no more than 70g of red meat per day. But what does that translate to in real terms?

Using the same research from Ourworldindata.org, we were able to extrapolate data that allowed us to work out what the average consumption of red meat is per person in the UK and just how much over the recommended daily allowance we actually consume. Not only that, we were also able to find out how we compare to the rest of the world and the results are definitely eye-opening.

Many factors can affect how much red meat is eaten in a particular region; from religious reasons to wealth and location. You can find out more in our infographic below:


Other Interesting Facts About Global Meat Consumption:

  • Total meat production is 5 times higher now than it was 50 years ago; with over 300 million tonnes of meat being produced each year (excluding offal and fats).
  • Chicken has gone from 12% to 35% of all meat produced globally since the 1960’s.
  • As a global average, per capita meat consumption has increased by approximately 20kg over the last 50 years, with the average person now consuming 43kg of meat per year (the average for the UK and North America is 80kg and 110kg, respectively).
  • The increase in per capita meat trends has meant that total meat production has increased at a much faster rate than population growth.
  • Consumption of camel meat has quadrupled since the 1960’s.
  • In the 1960’s Europe and North America accounted for 67% of global meat production compared to 34% today. Asia has increased production by 15 fold, making it the largest commercial producer of meat in the world, accounting for 45% of all production.
  • Meat consumption rises with wealth/GDP per capital. For every $10k we make, we eat an extra 12kg extra of meat per year.

If you wish to use this infographic for your own content, please credit CDA.au as the source.

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