Carnivore continent; but at what price?

Most people are well aware of the beef production exploits of Argentina and Brazil. Indeed many visitors to either country make it a priority to sink their teeth into a locally-produced steak.

Most people are well aware of the beef production exploits of Argentina and Brazil. Indeed many visitors to either country make it a priority to sink their teeth into a locally-produced steak.

What's more, despite a few concerns from some Western countries competing with them in this area, the quality of the product is generally seen as good. And going by figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on worldwide meat consumption, the inhabitants of both countries, as well as neighbours Uruguay, readily endorse what they produce — 'putting their meat where their mouths are' you could say.

All three states sit inside the top six countries in relation to meat consumption per capita, taking into account not just beef but also veal, poultry, pork and sheep meat.
Argentina leads the way out of the South American trio, with each person there downing just over 84.5 kg of meat a year; that puts them fourth in the world, behind meat 'munchers' Australia, USA and Israel, who are first, second and third respectively.

Following Argentina, the equivalent per head of population figure for Uruguay stands at almost 83 kg with Brazil next — and sixth globally — on slightly more than 78 kg.
Chileans also appear to have a strong lust for meat; the annual per capita consumption rate there is almost 72.5 kg, making them the eighth highest in the world, just trailing New Zealand.

While these statistics may be viewed indifferently by some, according to the OECD, increasing meat consumption worldwide is proving detrimental to our health and the environment, despite the fact that it generates substantial revenue and employment.
Plus, on a land mass where food is hard to come by for a host of people, that four countries in South America feature in the top ten of global meat consumers may be seen as a little unsettling.

For one, the money and energy expended — in terms of grass growth and other feeding products as well as for slaughter and product presentation — to get an animal, especially cattle, from farm to fork is significant compared to many other food products.
Also, in the likes of Brazil, the clearing of rainforests for farming pastures is depriving the planet of vital carbon-reducing trees.

So the next time you tuck into your 250-gram steak, it might be prudent to spare a thought for how it actually gets to your plate. In a meat-eating regard, less may be more for all of us.

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