It has become common to hear people in western Europe swearing off meat, with initiatives like “meat-free Mondays” gaining in popularity, but does this mean these countries consume less?
On a global scale, the average, per capita meat consumption has increased by approximately 20kg since 1961, with the average person consuming around 43kg of meat in 2014, according to UN data.
Europeans and North Americans consumed considerably more than this with an average of nearly 80kg.
For the countries where data was available, Spain and Austria saw the highest average consumption on the European mainland, both well above this figure at 94.04kg and 90.87kg respectively.
Among the lowest average consumers of meat were Bosnia and Herzegovina (32.21kg), Azerbaijan (31.1kg), and the lowest Georgia (27.89kg).
Countries to the east saw much lower consumption per person, compared to their western counterparts, which could be attributed to average income.
The average Romanian (49.4kg) ate almost half the meat a Spanish citizen would in a year.
In France, the average annual meat consumption per capita has declined consistently from 2008 (91.02kg per person) to 2013 (86.76kg).
Whereas the in UK, annual meat consumption over the last few years has fluctuated, remaining around 10kg higher than the annual average in the late 80s and early 90s.
While public opinion towards meat may be changing, Europeans are still consuming much more meat than they were a few decades ago, particularly in the west.