These Countries Have Started to Eat Less Meat
Written by Matthew Lichtash
National Geographic recently compiled an interactive map showing the composition of the average diet in various countries, expressed in calories per person. In America, meat fuels 13 percent of the average diet, though the U.S. isn’t even the most voracious carnivore in the world, percentage-wise. The United Kingdom, Argentina, China, and Vietnam (all with lower economic output than the U.S., interestingly) have bigger relative appetites for meat. By contrast, there are several countries that have already started down the path of going reducetarian.
India, with over 1.2 billion people, is the most populous plant-based country in the world: the average citizen gets just one percent of calories from meat. In India and other countries that consume less meat relative to the U.S., the following substitutes have emerged: grain (of the surveyed countries, only Spain eats less grain than we do), produce (South Korea eats more than double the veggies we do), and pulses, or lentils, beans, and peas (both India and Brazil fill five percent of their diets with pulses, compared to just one percent in the U.S.). All of these food groups are heavily featured in the tastiest reducetarian-friendly dishes.
Further, though worldwide meat consumption has trended upwards in recent years (up 31 percent since 1990), there are several countries that have bucked the trend, showing the beginning signs of eating less meat: Germany and Uruguay reduced their meat intake by consuming more grains, while Japan simply ate less meat without replacing it with any alternatives.
The Nat Geo database serves as a proof of concept: there exists a wide range of less-meat dietary options, tried and tested in a diverse range of countries around the world. Explore the map and see for yourself!