While I was reading up on beef earlier this week, I came across this graphic of worldwide meat consumption. One of the takeaways from my reporting on grass-fed and grain-fed beef is that environmentalists encourage people to eat less meat in general to reduce environmental impacts that come from producing it. Is that happening?
According to this data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, beef consumption in the U.S. has declined from 27.9 billion pounds in 2002 to 25.6 billion pounds in 2011.
According to The Economist, the most recent comprehensive data on global meat consumption is from 2007. That’s what is illustrated in the map above, which shows the top five meat-eating countries are, in order, Luxembourg, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Spain.
The data show the amount of meat eaten per person nearly doubled worldwide from 1961 to 2007. Beef and veal represented 40 percent of meat consumption in the early 60s but fell to 23 percent by 2007 while pig and poultry have become more popular.
Last week, the L.A. Times reported on research by WorldWatch Institute showing people ate a little less meat worldwide last year because of disease outbreaks and drought that thinned out livestock herds. But meat consumption overall has grown by 15 percent since 1995, the study found, growing by 2 percent in industrialized countries and 25 percent in developing nations.