Why the world needs to reduce its meat consumption

As the dialogue on the perils of meat consumption continues to grow louder, Dutch scientists are poised to release their lab-grown, test tube beef to the world when a select group of guests will take a bite out of a fake burger -- and, perhaps, a bite of history.

At an undisclosed location in London next week, Dutch scientist Mark Post from Maastricht University in the Netherlands will serve up a beef burger made in vitro, at a cost of £250,000 ($380,500 USD).

The 5oz patty will be the result of years worth of research and the painstaking assembly of 3,000 strips of artificial beef created from the stem cells of a cow’s muscle tissue.

But why and where did this project come from? Here’s a look at statistics and factoids on the rising cost of meat consumption around the world:

- The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that global meat consumption will rise to 460 million tonnes in 2050 -- or an increase of 65 percent within the next 40 years.

- Where meat consumption is growing the fastest is Asia, in particular China, where consumption has increased by 165 percent since 1990.

- According to some estimates, meat production is responsible for nearly 20 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The consumption of 1 kg of beef in a domestic  household is also equal to driving 160 km (99 miles).

- The true cost of “cheap meat” includes a variety of stressors such as deforestation, desertification, overuse of freshwater, inefficient use of energy and food diversion for use as feed.

- The water footprint to produce 1 kg of beef is a whopping 154,000 liters of water, mainly due to the amount required for animal feed.

- Per capita meat consumption around the world:

- US leads with 322g of meat consumed (120kg) a year with Aussies and New Zealanders not far behind.
- Europeans consume an average of 200g (76 kg) a year.
- China consumes 160g a day.
- India 12g a day
- Average global meat consumption is 115g (42 kg) a day.


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