The more meat we eat, the fewer people we can feed
It is predicted that an overwhelming 802 million humans around the world are suffering from the effects of hunger (the majority of this number are affected with malnutrition). However, at the same time it is proven that there is enough food for every human on earth.Then why are people around the world still going hungry? The main answer to this question lies in the production of animal based food like meat, dairy and eggs. Though there are enough plant based foods grown to feed every human, most of the crops grown, including those on land of third world countries, are fed to the livestock instead of the starving people themselves.
World-wide one third (36%) of the cereal production is used for livestock farming
In order to produce meat and other animal derived products such as milk, cheese and eggs, a large quantity of food is required to feed the animals, such as wheat, corn and barley. This quantity could instead be used to feed the hungry people as opposed to a lower number of livestock. After feed for livestock is produced, additional land, water, and energy resources are required to house and raise the animals and dispose of their waste. Eventually, even more energy is required to transport these animals to slaughter and process their bodies. To have an idea of how this all breaks down, it is estimated that people who eat beef use 160 times more land, water and fuel resources to sustain their diets than their plant-based counterparts.
Did you know why animals who are raised for food have to eat between 13 – 20 pounds of grain?
Because they then produce one pound of meat but only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of meat for consumption. The rest of those calories are not used for food, but used as slaughter weight or contributing to other parts like bone, skin, and blood that aren’t eaten by humans. This means that 20 times as many people could be fed if those grains were simply eaten by humans. The return investment is diminished. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world’s poor.
What about the animals?
The world’s growing appetite for animal products means farmers are under pressure to deliver ever- increasing quantities of meat, eggs and dairy. This is causing major animal production and welfare challenges while still failing to address the vast inequalities in human diets. Did you know that cows and other grazing animals were never biologically designed to eat the massive amounts of grain? They are ruminants, and evolved to eat grass. But because the demand for animal products is so high, farmers keep producing as many products in the shortest span of time feeding animals mostly grain.
Studies show that feeding livestock a grass-fed diet would not be the solution
Livestock grazing threatens native and endangered species through habitat destruction and displacement, and causes soil erosion, which in turn can transform fertile farmland into deserts. It is time to question the direction of livestock production and invest in solutions that feed the planet while being economically viable, environmentally resilient and respectful of animal welfare.
Everyone can play a part in lessening the damaging effects of world hunger. By making more conscious food choices, and by making more compassionate day-to-day changes like decreasing our meat consumption, wasting less food and opting for plant based alternatives, we can reduce our environmental footprint and help the planet, people and animals in a positive and ethical manner.