People today are eating a lot more than their grandparents did. The amount of calories available for each person in the world has risen 28 percent in the last 50 years. But there’s still a ton of variation between countries. Indians eat less meat than most. Americans consume far more sugar and fat. And the average Chinese person now eats twice as much food as in 1961.

National Geographic recently created a terrific interactive visualization of the world’s dietary habits, breaking down what each country eats in detail. You should go check it out and play around with their graphics, as they’re absolutely fascinating. I’ve pulled out five particularly striking tidbits:

Continue reading:  http://www.vox.com/2014/10/20/7015229/world-food-habits-charted

Related story:  WTO Rules Against U.S. Meat Labeling Requirements

Commentary by The Secular Jurist:  What jumped out at me from these charts is the decline in meat consumption coinciding with the Great Recession.  Throughout human history, the consumption of meat – rightly or wrongly – has been associated with brain growth and prosperity.  If the current trend continues, it could mark a momentous turning point in our evolution.  Although meat production is a highly inefficient source of calories, and there certainly are better nutritional alternatives, a widespread reduction of protein in the human diet would definitely worsen public health concerns.  These indicators should be closely monitored going forward.

4 thoughts on “What foods does each country eat? These charts break it down.

  1. Well I wouldn’t worry about the meat decline too much look at India. They eat very little meat and have lots of intelligent people there. I think processed foods and oil increase is more causing our issues. Meat may have contributed greatly to the evolution of the brain in early humans but humans have evolved to be able to handle a predominately grain and plant based diet without effecting brain mass.

    Plant based proteins when combined can provide all the amino acids our brains need. I myself am not a vegan or vegetarian but I think those who are if they consume a varied and healthy diet and use supplements they will do just fine. There is nutrients that are only or primarily found in meat and other animal based protein like dairy though Conenzyme Q10, Omega 3 (plant based varieties are not near as helpful to the body), cholesterol (yes some is good for you), saturated fats (yes in moderation they are good for you), B Vitamins, high quality protein. While vegans and vegetarians will seek to deny or minimize this, we evolved to eat some animal based protein in our diets. We evolved not to need near as much as in our ancient past, but still do best with some in our diet. Probably 10-20% of our calories consumed should be animal based proteins. We can survive without any and still do well, but I doubt we will be at optimal health. More studies should be done on comparing many factors of animal protein inclusion diets and vegan diets, before I will feel comfortable forgoing all animal based protein.

    The chart itself was very interesting.


    • Great points. A transition from animal proteins to plant-based proteins would be helpful on many levels. My concern isn’t about meat consumption per se, but about a potential decline in protein consumption due to the Great Recession and its long-term repercussions. My local grocer can no longer stock some meats because people just can’t afford them anymore.

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  2. I now tend to think of it as more of an indicator of what’s happening in the economy of the U.S., but no longer worry about it in terms of protein consumption. I suspect we may someday be reading new “truths” about the need for protein. Increasingly I find governmental guidelines suspect – often established on the basis of politics rather than scientific evidence of nutritional need. This has been acknowledged by the Canadian gov’t. Sad. I do know several young adults who were raised as vegans, by vegan parents, all of whom are exceptionally healthy, exceptionally insightful, exceptionally creative and inspiring. Never thought I’d be saying that, but evidence is evidence. I’d like to see more of that, instead of marketing. Great subject to get a world-wide conversation going on 🙂


    • The Mesoamerican diet consisting of maize, beans, and squash provided adequate sources of vegetable protein. So, vegan diets can be sufficiently nutritious. However, a diet deficient in all proteins would be inadequate for humans who are an omnivorous species. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that meat is the only source of protein. Nuts, seeds, and beans – for example – are high in protein.


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