The term ‘red meat’ refers to animal flesh which is reddish in color in its raw form. This variety of meat contains more myoglobin, a protein found in muscles which serves to bind together oxygen and iron, than is found in what is called white meat. Among the most popular varieties of red meat eaten across the globe include beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, venison, mutton, and goat. Residents of several South American nations lead the world in terms of consuming the highest amounts of red meat. Countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil are known for their large beef production and exporting industries. According to recent estimates Brazil is expected to surpass the US as the world’s top meat exporter.
Top Red Meat Consuming Countries
As a significant player in regards to beef production, it’s easy to see why red meat plays such a significant role in the South American diet. Although traditions vary from region to region popular cooking practices in this area of the world include grilling and barbecuing meats such as beef, goat, and pork. Flank steak is also a key ingredient in Argentina’s national dish, matambre.
The United States and Canada are also major consumers of red meat. Many North Americans follow what could be described as a meat and potato based diet. The growth and popularity of fast food restaurants has also played an influential role in forming modern eating habits. Americans and Canadians regularly consume convenience foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, bacon, and pizzas laden with meat.
The South Pacific nations of Australia and New Zealand also rank high in terms of global consumption of red meat. Both countries are well known for being major producers and exporters of lamb. New Zealand’s economy also relies on its locally sourced venison and beef products. Meat pie, Australia’s national dish, is most often made with ground beef or steak.
The citizens of the small Middle Eastern country of Israel regularly consume a great deal of red meat. The country’s cuisine is influenced by an array of regional and imported cultures. Although traditional Jewish dietary laws (or the Kashrut) as well as the Muslim religion forbids the eating of pork Israelis often grill and barbecue other meats such as beef and lamb. Popular dishes in the nation include meat stews and Moussaka.
The only Asian country on the list of the world’s top red meat consumers is Kazakhstan. According to the World Bank 80% of the nation’s land is used for agricultural purposes and 70% of this is pasture land devoted to grazing livestock such as cattle and sheep.
Consequences of Diets Rich in Red Meat
Adverse health effects associated with excessive consumption of red meat include increased risk for a variety of cancers, including colorectal, kidney, breast, stomach, esophageal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Argentina and Uruguay, whose populations consume the more red meat than any other country on Earth, also have some of the highest breast and colon rates cancer in the world. Consumption of red meat has also been linked with cardiovascular disease.