Consumption and production of proteins derived from animals have more significant environmental and health impacts than proteins derived from plants. This raises concerns mainly in consideration of the predictable increased consumption of animal proteins at the expense of vegetal ones due to growing income, especially in developing countries. Animal protein consumption, and particularly meat consumption, seems to start to decrease at a high level of income, which may suggest that economic growth solves or attenuates the environmental and health problems of animal food consumption. To test this possibility, the relationship between per capita income and animal and vegetal protein consumption is explored. Using a cross-country regression for 142 countries in 2017, animal-based protein, meat protein, and vegetal-based protein consumption are specified as dependent variables. In addition to per capita income, other potential drivers of protein choices, including ecological, demographic and social factors are controlled for. Apart from income, which still seems to be the most important driver of any type of protein consumption, the results suggest that protein consumption from animal sources and meat sources have different determinants. Though there is actually some evidence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between per capita income and animal protein consumption, the peak is at such high levels as to make economic growth irrelevant to curb animal protein consumption.
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