Marian Tupy at Reason has an article up charting the per capita growth of the meat and fish industry in the United States, China, and the world at large as well as the growth in meat and fish industries in China in specific and in contrast to the market for cereals. A developing nation like China traditionally relies on cereals, like rice, for the bulk of its citizens' caloric needs, with relatively minor, and usually non-regular, additions of meat and other proteins as supplements to the majority grain-based diet. As Tupy charts though, as a nation becomes weathier, as China has done over the past half century, the per capita intake of meat increases drastically.
But not to worry, writes Tupy, since innovations like aquaculture and other market adjustments surface to keep the new market growth affordable and accessible to all its new consumers.
While that argument and conclusion is certainly typical of a libertarian publication like Reason, Tupy's article does raise the issue of the effects on the planet and climate. As the World Resources Institute pointed out in April, beef in particular has an enormous environmental footprint, much more environmentally costly than poultry or pork, and equivalent to lamb or goat meat. So continued improvement in the economies of developing nations will undoubtedly put a continued, and growing, strain on the efforts to combat the deleterious effects of climate change.
Read Marian Tupy's full article over at Reason.
And read Janet Ranganathan and Richard Waite's article, "Sustainable Diets: What You Need to Know in 12 Charts," at the World Resources Institute.