Why does eating meat contribute to global hunger?
- Feeding grain to livestock for meat is a very inefficient way of producing food e.g. it takes 8kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef.
- There is a shortage of grain for human consumption and global food prices have leapt by 57% between 2007-2008.
- There is enough food in the world to feed the global population as 2007 showed a record global grain harvest of 2.1 billion tons. But the problem is a diminishing proportion of it is being turned into food as less than half of the total grown grain found its way to people’s plates. So where is it going? A large proportion is going towards biofuels as global production of biofuels in 2008 consumed almost 100 million tons of grains and 600-700 million tons of grains are used annually to feed animals to satisfy the world’s passion for meat.
- The industrialised world exports grain to developing countries and imports the meat produced with it, and now some of the world’s poorest nations grain and land that could feed the hungry are instead being fed to animals who end up on the dinner plates of the rich e.g. 80% of starving children live in countries that actually have food surpluses but farmers use the surplus grain to feed livestock instead of people according to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- A Bangladeshi family living off rice, beans, vegetables and fruit may live on an acre of land or less, while the average American, who consumes around 270 pounds of meat a year, needs 20 times that. And according to the British group Vegfam, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle.
- American companies are moving into South American countries and buying up land and grain so that they can raise animals to sell to meat-eaters in the States. These companies use the resources that should be used to feed the local people, so millions of people in South America and around the world are going hungry while animals are raised for food consume their grain and destroy their environment e.g. in Guatemala, 75% of children under the age of 5 are malnourished and yet the nation continues to produce and export 40 million pounds of meat to the U.S. every year.
Dr. Jean Mayer, Harvard nutritionist and former president of Tufts University, estimated that reducing meat production by just 10 percent in the U.S. would leave us with enough grain to feed some 60 million people.
Going vegan has other incalculable benefits as meat consumption and livestock farming has detrimental affects on the environment such as land degradation, water wastage, it is incredibly energy intensive, deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, and faecal contamination. Additionally, a vegan diet has health benefits as it completely reduces cholesterol from your diet, reduces saturated fat by 95 percent, and you take out all naturally comprised trans-fatty acids. You also do not digest the steroids, growth hormones, rBGH, antibiotics that are in meat and dairy, which have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, testicular cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. While swapping to organic meats does decrease your exposure to hormones and chemical toxins it cannot help prevent obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and many forms of cancer, nor will it cure the environmental contamination and resulting health hazards plaguing the production and consumption of animal foods. A plant-based diet that is naturally low in carcinogens, pathogens, and disease-causing fat and cholesterol is the best medicine for promoting a healthy life.
Can everybody have a vegan diet? No. But in western countries there are the resources to have a well-balanced vegan diet as the American Dietetic Association states, “[properly planned vegan diets] are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases….are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
Click here for a vegan starter kit.