Meat Exhaustion Day Demonstrates Our Planetary Over-Consumption of Animals

FOUR PAWS has calculated the so-called “Meat Exhaustion Day“, i.e. the day on which the maximum recommended meat consumption per year is reached around the world.

The concept of Meat Exhaustion Day is established by comparing the average actual meat consumption per capita against the advised levels. This comparison is conducted globally, regionally, and nationally, based on recommendations from the Planetary Health Diet. This proposes daily meat consumption ranges of 0-14 grams for beef, 0-14 grams for pork, and 0-58 grams for poultry. This analysis employs the mean values of 7 grams for beef and pork, and 29 grams for poultry.

Critical situation in the Global North

According to the findings, global meat consumption significantly exceeds levels considered healthy or sustainable, especially in high-income countries of the Global North (North America, Europe, and Australia), South America, and most regions in Asia. Notably, the United States and Australia surpassed the advised meat consumption levels as early as March.

Meanwhile, the UK and many European countries are anticipated to reach their Meat Exhaustion Day in April or early May, necessitating a reduction in total meat consumption of approximately 70%. In the US and Australia, the requirement for meat reduction is even more critical, at 81% and 78% respectively, with these countries reaching their Meat Exhaustion Day as early as March. Conversely, nations with marginally lower meat consumption levels, such as South Africa, meet their meat quota in May. Traditionally less meat-centric countries including Thailand, Egypt, and Liberia have their meat exhaustion date towards the end of the year.

Meat Exhaustion Day globally

Meat consumption levels unhealthy and unsustainable

When recent meat consumption statistics from countries such as Australia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, the UK, and the US are compared against the Planetary Health Diet recommendations, it is evident that meat consumption in these nations significantly exceeds the levels deemed both healthy and sustainable.

Historical data on meat supply, compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), reveals that global meat consumption expanded from just over 70 million tons in the early 1960s to 340 million tons in 2020. In Europe and North America, total meat consumption has seen a steady increase over the last century and has now stabilized. However, certain European nations are experiencing a gradual decline in meat consumption, notably the UK and Germany. In contrast, other global regions, such as Asia, are witnessing a steady rise in meat consumption.

The study also showed that if meat consumption were reduced, not only would there be more space and therefore a better quality of life for the remaining animals, but they could also all live on pasture. If meat consumption were reduced by two thirds, this would result in an additional 140,000 hectares of land. This freed-up land could be used, for example, for a conversion to organic farming or for renaturalisation or the creation of moors for CO2 storage.

© agnormark –

FOUR PAWS urges reduction in meat consumption

FOUR PAWS is calling on politicians to take more measures to reduce meat consumption, highlighting the fact that, according to the FAO, livestock farming accounts for 16.5% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire global transport sector.

“In addition to the climate and health aspects, we must of course not forget the animals that suffer as a result of our excessive meat consumption. An incredible 83.3 billion farm animals are slaughtered worldwide every year! Industrial livestock farming is the second largest source of CO² emissions,” says FOUR PAWS Campaign Manager Veronika Weissenböck.

Stopping the unfortunate discount campaigns on meat would be a good example. In addition, we cannot avoid transparent labelling of our animal-based foods according to the way the animals are kept and their origin in retail and catering if we want to limit excessive meat consumption,” concludes Weissenböck.

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