Someone who never went to Hong Kong told me that I should eat more meat because people in Hong Kong do that.  Perhaps I should also learn Cantonese, which might help with longevity, but I digress.

Do people in Hong Kong eat the most meat?

Hong Kong has been reported to have the highest per capita meat consumption.  What does that mean?  Is that the amount of meat available to consumers, the amount purchased, or the amount eaten?

Outside of the Steak House challenge, consuming does not need to mean eating.  I know there are a lot of CCTV cameras out there, but how can they really know how much food people eat, and how much they throw away?  But if they don’t eat all the meat, what happens to it?

How much meat do Hong Kong citizens eat?

There are some mistakes online where people change the year for a day.  If you think any of those statistics are really per day, consider The Big Texan.  They will give you 72-once steak and sides for free if you can eat it all within one hour.  72 ounces is just over 2 kilograms.  (Okay, so they also have a couple of sides).  Other restaurants offer similar deals.  They can afford to do so because about 90 percent of people who try, fail.

The world record for eating meat in one sitting is about 10 kilograms.  2 kilograms is more than most people can eat in an hour: as most people spend less than an hour a day eating, it is obvious that it is more than most people need.

Even if it is mostly food waste, the kilograms of meat “consumed” per capita is definitely per year.

For the 72-hour steak challenge, “consumed” means swallowed.  But, for statistical purposes, meat is consumed even if it is thrown away, given to the dog, turned into medicine, or worn as a hat.

Not beef

And remember, people in Hong Kong do not consume that much steak.  It is mostly fish, seafood, and pork.

Food waste

Does Hong Kong have higher food waste than other countries?

According to the Hong Kong site Food Waste Challenge 3,300 tons of food waste are put into landfills daily in Hong Kong.   One treatment site open since 2018 brings in 200 tons of food waste a day, another open since 2019 takes 50 tons per day.    Still, that hardly adds much. 

Not all uneaten food goes to landfills.  Perhaps some people recycle their food waste, or feed it to dogs, but would they do that more in Hong Kong than other cities?   3450 tons of food in landfills and two food treatment sites per day.  At 365 days a year, that totals 1259250 tonnes.  That is about 167.9 kilograms of food waste per person per year! 

According to the Euro Foodbank, the number in Europe is 131 kilograms per person per year. 

So, the average resident of Hong Kong produces over 35 kilograms more food waste than the average European.


Perhaps pets are fed fresh meat in Hong Kong.  Any food fed to pets or strays would not be counted in the waste numbers above, as food waste includes only the food disposed of at waste plants.

I doubt Hong Kong has as many pets as some places, but the first estimate I could find was 1.2 million total pets.

Are these pets being fed processed pet foods that are not counted toward meat consumption, or are they being fed foods that are counted under meat consumption?  I don’t know.


People may also use scraps of meat to feed strays.  

A letter from a high school student says Hong Kong authorities handle about 10,000 stray dogs and cats a year.  “According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) website, the government handles between 5,000 to 7,000 stray dogs every year. In 2011, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department handled 5,800 stray dogs and 3,557 stray cats.”  writes Ariel Ng Cheuk-laam from St Paul’s Secondary School.  Most of these animals are put down.

Do people feed stray dogs and cats?  Does this add to the overall meat consumption?  I doubt it adds nearly as much as food waste, but who knows?  Hong Kong has a population of over 7.3 million… a few thousand stray dogs and cats will not have that much impact on statistics.  (Maybe they feed fish to pigeons?  I don’t know.)  

Let us compare this to Belgium.  Flanders has a population of  6.5 million. In 2021, 15,380 stray cats were caught, according to the Brussels Times.  That is a little more than three times what was picked up in Hong Kong 

It is hard to find the number of stray dogs in Belgium, or how many are dealt with.  The number is as low as 1000 stray dogs. 


But if you fed stray dogs, how much would you feed them?  Well, wolves eat less than 2 kilograms of meat a day.  Wolves are slightly smaller than humans and much bigger than most dogs and cats.  As city people exercise less than wolves, it is entirely possible to get enough calories with less meat than that.  And if you are a true carnivore, you can go weeks without food without any ill effects.   (Unfortunately, humans are not true carnivores).

Traditional Medicine

Some animal byproducts are also used in traditional Chinese medicines.  Traditional medicine using animal parts used to be big in Europe.  You can see this in Cluj’s pharmacy museum.  However, I do not know anyone who still uses beaver guts as medicine.  While there are traditional Chinese medicine options in Cluj, these seem to be focused on acupuncture rather than animal parts.  

Animal-based medicines are still sold in China.   Legally, about 3 billion Hong Kong dollars are spent on TCM. It is possible that some illegally imported traditional Chinese medicines may be disguised as meat. This is more likely to happen in Hong Kong than in Cluj.


While the numbers might be exaggerated, it is obvious that the people of Hong Kong are not vegetarians.  The average Hong Kong resident eats less beef than Europeans but probably has more pork and seafood.

That said, the amount that goes into the belly is not certain.  Many Westerners admonish children for not eating all the food on their plates, and Asians do not generally have the same tradition.  The greater amount of food waste per capita in Hong Kong adds a new mystery, what kind of food is being thrown away?

Here is a great idea for a YouTuber.  Visit Hong Kong, follow a few people around as they eat, and weigh their food along the way.

Until then, I will agree that most people in Hong Kong probably eat more pork and much more fish than I do.  And, so what?

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