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Are we eating less meat?—Oxford Martin School fellow Hannah Ritchie confirms ‘No’

Broken Record Alert:

People WILL NOT change their diets for environmental reasons.

No matter how often we hear “EAT LESS MEAT”

we eat more meat when we can afford it, because we like it.

@HannahRitchie02 reports.

—@TamarHaspel on Twitter, 4 Feb 2019

The following excerpts are taken from a BBC analysis piece published yesterday that was commissioned by the BBC from Hannah Ritchie, an expert from the Oxford Martin School and the non-profit organization Global Change Data Lab.

‘Rising incomes
‘. . . [G]lobal meat consumption has increased rapidly over the past 50 years. Meat production today is nearly five times higher than in the early 1960s—from 70 million tonnes to more than 330 million tonnes in 2017.

‘A big reason for this is that there are many more people to feed. Over that period the world population more than doubled. In the early 1960s there were around three billion of us, and today there are more than 7.6 billion.

‘While population is part of the story, it doesn’t entirely account for why meat production increased five-fold. Another key factor is rising incomes.

‘Around the world, people have become richer, with the global average income more than tripling in half a century. When we compare consumption across different countries we see that, typically, the richer we are the more meat we eat.

‘There are not just more people in the world—there are more people who can afford to eat meat.

‘Who eats the most meat?
‘We see a clear link with wealth when looking at patterns of meat consumption across the world.

‘In 2013, the most recent year available, the US and Australia topped the tables for annual meat consumption. Alongside New Zealand and Argentina, both countries topped more than 100kg per person, the equivalent to about 50 chickens or half a cow each.

In fact, high levels of meat consumption can be seen across the West, with most countries in Western Europe consuming between 80 and 90 kilograms of meat per person.

At the other end of the spectrum, many of the world’s poorest countries eat very little meat.

The average Ethiopian consumes just 7kg, Rwandans 8kg and Nigerians 9kg. This is 10 times less than the average European.

‘For those in low-income countries, meat is still very much a luxury. . . .

‘Middle-income countries driving the demand for meat
‘It is clear that the richest countries eat a lot of meat, and those on low incomes eat little. This has been the case for 50 years or more. So why are we collectively eating so much more meat?

‘This trend has been largely driven from a growing band of middle-income countries. Rapidly growing nations like China and Brazil have seen significant economic growth in recent decades, and a large rise in meat consumption.

‘In Kenya, meat consumption has changed little since 1960. By contrast, the average person in 1960s China consumed less than 5kg a year. By the late 1980s this had risen to 20kg, and in the last few decades this has more than tripled to over 60kg.

‘The same thing happened in Brazil, where meat consumption has almost doubled since 1990—overtaking almost all Western countries in the process. . . .

‘Is meat consumption falling in the West?
Many in Europe and North America say they are trying to cut down on meat, but is it working?

Not really, according to statistics.

Recent data from the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) suggests meat consumption per head has actually increased over the last few years.

While we may think that meat is becoming less popular, US consumption in 2018 was close to its highest in decades.

It’s a similar picture with meat consumption in the EU.

Read the whole article by Hannah Ritchie: Which countries eat the most meat?, BBC News, 4 Feb 2019.

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