Data post: Investigating the world’s growing consumption of meat and discovering which nation is the most carnivorous

Yesterday Eco Eats published an article outlining the vegetarian lobby’s answer to solving the world’s food insecurity crisis. The only option, according to the ‘veggie lobby’, is for the human race to convert to a vegetarian diet and end our staggering reliance on meat as part of our diets.

To follow up that article, we investigated exactly how much the world produces and how it compares over time, across continents and between countries. We looked into how much meat people consume every day and compare that across different parts of the world too. Our investigation produced some interesting and startling results. And although it confirmed the veggie lobby’s assertion that the world’s diet relies too much on animals, it also shows that their efforts appear to be falling on deaf ears as the amount of meat produced per person has experienced an ever-increasing trend over the 20 years we investigated.

Since 1989 the global supply of meat has increased by 64% despite the world’s population growing by just 22% in the same period. The red line shows the increase increase in the amount of meat produced per person.

Source of all data: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 

global meat consumption comparison

The amount of meat produced per person per day has risen by 26% in the 20 year period, showing the rising presence of meat as part our daily diets. The average amount of meat produced per person per day was 115 grams in 2009, compared to 91 grams in 1989.

per person global

Which continent is winning the meat-producing competition? Asia, by miles! It produces 45% of the world’s meat.

continent total

But does Asian produce the most meat per person? No! The Americans are winning (or losing) that battle! They produce 322 grams of meat per person per day, nearly seven times as much as Africa.

per person per day continent

But what about the top ten producing nations? It’s no surprise who comes top of the total amount produced:

Top Ten meat producing countries (million tonnes)

  1. China (79.5m)
  2. United States (37m)
  3. Brazil (16.5m)
  4. Russia (9m)
  5. Germany (7.3m)
  6. Mexico (7.1m)
  7. Japan (5.8m)
  8. Italy (5.5m)
  9. France (5.4m)
  10. India (5.3m)

The United Kingdom evades the top ten by one place, coming 11th in the list with its production of 5.2m tonnes of meat, which is pretty high considering they are the 22nd most populated country.

How does this compare to the ten most populous countries?

  1. 1.     China
  2. 2.     India
  3. 3.     United States
  4. 4.     Indonesia
  5. 5.     Brazil
  6. 6.     Pakistan
  7. 7.     Nigeria
  8. 8.     Bangladesh
  9. 9.     Russia
  10. 10.  Japan

And finally, which countries produce the most amount of meat per person? The list is less predictable than the top ten producing nations, with a particular surprise of Kuwait coming in second place. The British vegans will be pleased that the UK is as low as 28th in the list, perhaps reflecting the relatively high number of vegetarians in the UK.

1. United States (329g)

2. Kuwait (327g)

3. Australia (305g)

4. Bahamas (300g)

5. Luxembourg (296g)

6. New Zealand (292g)

7. Austria (279g)

=7. Bermuda (279g)

=7. French Polynesia (279g)

8. Argentina (269g)

9. Spain (266g)

10. Israel (263g)


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