In the second half of the 20th century the global consumption of meat increased fivefold, from 45 million tonnes consumed in 1950 to 250 million tonnes nowadays. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates meat consumption is expected to double by 2050.
Today, in industrialized countries people consume an average of 224 g of meat per capita per day (over 81 kg per person per year) compared to an average of 30 g (almost 11 kg of meat a year per person) consumed in Africa.
Figures related to the animals slaughtered each year are exorbitant. 58 000 million chickens are slaughtered annually worldwide, 11 000 million in China and 9000 million in the United States alone. If you take other species into account, the numbers are still high: 1383 million pigs; 517 million sheep; 430 million goats; 296 million cows… In recent years, the consumption of meat has increased in China, India and most countries where a new middle class is emerging coupled with demographic growth.
Increased worldwide demand results in a massive growth of industrial production of meat and, therefore, concentration of power in the hands of a few large companies that can meet market demand. This transformation of the livestock sector and meat production has a long series of negative consequences on the environment, animal welfare, social equality as well as the health and quality of human life.
Everyone can contribute to improve the situation and change this trend however. For example you can: consume less meat; buy better quality; vary the species and races of animals you eat; choose different cuts; be wary of low prices; favour meat from locally-bred animals and avoid imported products as much as possible; learn to read product labels; consider animal welfare; ; be curious and ask your butcher for more information or visit a farm to see how animals are raised.
Finally remember that giving up some things often has an up-side: eating less meat is not a punishment, your health will benefit and so will the environment and animal welfare. “Replace” meat with tasty, seasonal food and you will not even miss it!
For years, Slow Food is trying to raise awareness among consumers about eating better quality and less meat. This year, from 4 to 6 June, the international event Slow Meat will be held in Denver on this subject (https://www.slowfoodusa.org/slow-meat-2015), it is organised by Slow Food USA. To know more about Slow Food, click here: (http://www.slowfood.it/quanta-carne-mangiamo/).