PNG images: Meat

Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food.:1 Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times. The advent of civilisation allowed the domestication of animals such as chickens, sheep, pigs and cattle. This eventually led to their use in meat production on an industrial scale with the aid of slaughterhouses.

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Meat is mainly composed of water, protein, and fat. It is edible raw, but is normally eaten after it has been cooked and seasoned or processed in a variety of ways. Unprocessed meat will spoil or rot within hours or days as a result of infection with and decomposition by bacteria and fungi.

Most often, meat refers to skeletal muscle and associated fat and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as offal.:1 Meat is sometimes also used in a more restrictive sense to mean the flesh of mammalian species (pigs, cattle, lambs, etc.) raised and prepared for human consumption, to the exclusion of fish, other seafood, poultry, or other animals.

The word meat comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general. The term is related to mad in Danish, mat in Swedish and Norwegian, and matur in Icelandic and Faroese, which also mean 'food'. The word mete also exists in Old Frisian (and to a lesser extent, modern West Frisian) to denote important food, differentiating it from swiets (sweets) and dierfied (animal feed).

Meat consumption varies worldwide, depending on cultural or religious preferences, as well as economic conditions. Vegetarians choose not to eat meat because of ethical, economic, environmental, religious or health concerns that are associated with meat production and consumption.

According to the analysis of the FAO the overall consumption for white meat between 1990 and 2009 has dramatically increased. For example, poultry meat has increased by 76.6% per kilo per capita and pig meat by 19.7%. However, on the contrary, bovine meat has decreased from 10.4 kilograms (23 lb)/capita in 1990 to 9.6 kilograms (21 lb)/capita in 2009.