It is well known that humans have been hunting animals in order to feed themselves since the early ages. Therefore, meat is one of the earliest nutritional sources for humans. Archaeological evidence shows that domestication of various plants and animals began in six different regions around the world with the earliest settlements of humans 7 to 10 thousand years ago.
The main target of this revolutionary change, which first began in the tropical and sub-tropical belts of Southeast Asia, South Asia, North and Central Africa and Central America, was to improve agriculture and benefit from the animals’ milk, meat, wool and skin more efficiently.
The most important milestone of raising livestock that continued for thousands of years was to extend the culture of raising livestock in enclosed areas in order to get faster and tastier meat from animals, and to develop animal feed.
Additional to clover, corn, barley, wheat and soya, oilseed residues, molasses and intensive fattening feed, made the price of meat affordable therefore increased the meat consumption.
World cattle inventory today is 1,3 million head. India and Brazil own approximately 30% of the total world cattle inventory. The European Union, China, the United States and East Africa known as the Horn of Africa are the other big cattle breeding countries. World sheep inventory today is 1,2 billion head, and world goat inventory has reached 1 billion head. China and India are the leading countries on the world small cattle inventory. Global meat demand is increasing, however, the increase in meat consumption varies greatly between countries.
Meat consumption is increasing slowly, as a matter of fact, almost came to a deadlock in Europe and United States, which are the biggest meat producers of the 20th century. The biggest demand for meat in the world comes from the rapidly growing middle class in India and China. While red meat is an affordable product in the developed countries, it is luxury food in countries with poor livestock infrastructure and can only appear on the menus of special dinners. Research reveals that the demand for animal protein increases based on the increase in the level of income, because consuming meat is a status symbol for those with better incomes.
However, consuming meat is still almost luxury for many people in developing countries. The gap between the developed and developing countries reveals itself in meat consumption. While people meet the 56% of their protein needs from animal products, this rate is only 18% in developing countries.
The most important part of meat processing is slaughterhouses where meat is prepared for the industrial use. The Uyghurs established the earliest slaughterhouses in history and their traditions were continued and developed during the Seljuk Dynasty after the adoption of Islam in the following periods. The earliest examples of modern slaughterhouses were built in the 10th century during the Seljuk Dynasty by the butchers’ guild. Butchers slaughtered animals in open-air public spaces covered on the sides. These slaughterhouses performed halal methods of slaughtering according to Islamic rules and paid strict attention to hygiene. Meat, offal and leather traders had their shops outside the city walls and inspected by the butchers’ guilds.
Since butchery is a very difficult and messy profession by its nature, it was performed by the least comfortable class, and took a while until it was improved. Butchers were infamous people involved in bullyragging and fights, and people refrained from them. By the same imperial decree of the Mehmet the Second, butchers were employed as gardeners during six months for their psychological fitness.