James KirkJames Kirk
24 Stories

Veganism On The Rise? Forget It. More People Eating Meat Now

You may have heard an increasing number of people vow to reduce their meat intake lately -= or stop eating it altogether.

Their rationale may to become healthier, reduce their environmental impact, or consider animal cruelty

A third of Britons claim to have either stopped eating meat or reduced it, while two thirds of those in the US say they are eating less of at least one meat.

This trend is partly thanks to initiatives such as Meat-free Mondays and Veganuary. At the same time, a number of documentaries and high-profile advocates of veganism have highlighted the potential benefits of eating less meat.

But have these sentiments had any effect on the ground? If so, it is not apparent. Rather, what we do know is that global 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 tonnes in 2017,

A main reason for this is that there are many more people to feed.

However, it doesn't entirely explain 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.

Typically, the richer we are the more meat we eat.

So there are not just more people in the world – there are more people who can afford to eat 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.

India is one notable exception. While average incomes have tripled since 1990, meat consumption hasn't followed suit.

Many in Europe and North America say they are trying to cut down on meat, but is it working?

Not really, according to statistics.

In some circumstances, eating meat can be beneficial. Moderate quantities of meat and dairy can improve people's health, particularly in lower-income countries where diets may lack variety.

But in many countries, meat consumption goes far beyond basic nutritional benefits.