||Increasing global levels of meat consumption are a threat to the environment and to human health. To identify measures that may change consumption patterns towards more plant-based foods, it is necessary to improve our understanding of the causes behind the demand for meat. In this paper we use data from 137 different countries to identify and assess factors that influence meat consumption at the national level using a cross-country multivariate regression analysis. We specify either total meat or ruminant meat as the dependent variable and we consider a broad range of potential drivers of meat consumption. The combination of explanatory variables we use is new for this type of analysis. In addition, we estimate the relative importance of the different drivers. We find that income per capita followed by rate of urbanisation are the two most important drivers of total meat consumption per capita. Income per capita and natural endowment factors are major drivers of ruminant meat consumption per capita. Other drivers are Western culture, Muslim religion, female labour participation, economic and social globalisation and meat prices. The main identified drivers of meat demand are difficult to influence through direct policy intervention. Thus, acting indirectly on consumers’ preferences and consumption habits (for instance through information, education policy and increased availability of ready-made plant based products) could be of key importance for mitigating the rise of meat consumption per capita all over the world.