Data Doesn't Support The Claim That Goat Is The Most Consumed Meat In The World

Don't listen to everything Gordon Ramsay tells you.
borchee via Getty Images

What’s the most popular meat in the world? There’s conflicting info out there that’s sure to confuse you.

Some people ― Gordon Ramsay on a recent episode of “Master Chef Junior,” for example ― say goat meat is the “most popular protein on the planet,” based on “the number of people across the world that eat it.”

Since no data exists providing information on the number of people who eat a certain type of meat, Ramsay isn’t exactly basing his claim on solid footing. There are, however, different statistics that prove his claims aren’t likely to be true.

If you look at statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the most consumed meat per million tonnes is pork (112.4) as of 2012. Next comes poultry (107), then beef (68) and then sheep and goat (14), which get lumped into one category.

This got us wondering ― the FAO’s numbers are based on production statistics. Are millions of goats being eaten under the radar that aren’t being accounted for in these numbers?

According to Susan Schoenian, sheep and goat specialist at the University of Maryland Extension, no ― they’re not. She maintains it’s not possible for goats to be the most consumed meat in the world.

So why is this falsehood being published in reputable, respectable sources? Schoenian says it’s a case of one person getting it wrong and everyone else taking them at their word.

“It’s totally false. If you just look at the number of goats in the world and you multiply it by what they weigh and multiply it by the meat you get out of the carcass ... it just doesn’t add up,” Schoenian told HuffPost.

As of 2013, according to the FAO there are just over 1 billion goats in the world. That’s a lot, but it’s not nearly enough to account for beating out the chickens, cattle and sheep that trounce those numbers.


Of course the data from the FAO most likely cannot account for the number of goats that are “eaten off the grid,” as Schoenian explains, in developing nations. But even so, it’s not feasible for goat meat to be eaten more than pork.

The fact that most people can’t even really tell the difference between a goat and a sheep only further proves her point. For example, the screaming goat that went viral a couple years back ― the one that was made famous by Sprint’s Super Bowl ad it was in fact a sheep.

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