Per Capita Meat Consumption - We could all follow India's example

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Meat is widely regarded as an essential part of a balanced diet that contributes valuable nutrients that are beneficial to one's overall health. Meat and meat products contain important levels of protein, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients which are essential for growth and development. The downside of the global meat gluttony is that the environmental impact of animal agriculture is devastating, the greenhouse gas footprint of which rivals that of every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane, and rocket ship combined. Worldwide meat production accounts for approximately a sixth of greenhouse gas emissions, while also occupying about 80% of all farmland worldwide. Not to mention the cruelty to the animals!

Let's take a look at some of the larger economies and their per capita meat consumption over the past 50 years:

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Look at India! India’s per-capita consumption of meat stood at 4.4 kg in 2014 per person. Despite the size of the economy, India stands is among the list of countries with the least meat consumption per-person. Although some will attribute this to a tradition of vegetarianism, surely this is mostly due to the limited access to meat for the poor. As I note below, meat consumption is highest across high-income countries, and the demand for meat in India is, therefore, expected to grow faster with stronger & sustainable forecasted economic growth and rising per capita income.

For other countries on our list, changes in consumption in high-income countries have been quite slow, with most stagnating or even decreasing during the last 50 years. On the contrary, growth in per capita meat consumption has been highest in countries who have underwent strong economic upturns - namely China and Brazil. India is the only major exception to this pattern

Meat Consumption, per Person, 2013


Let's get a snapshot of the year where the data is up-to-date for all countries in our datset, 2013. Meat consumption is highest across high-income countries (with the largest meat-eaters in Australia, consuming around 116 kilograms per person in 2013). The average European and North American consumes nearly 80 kilograms and more than 110 kilograms, respectively. Consumption across Africa varies, with poorer countries consume as low as 10 kilograms per person and higher-income nations such as South Africa consuming between 60-70 kilograms per person.

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Data Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO)