How can following a vegetarian diet help the hungry people of the world?
Let’s start with the agricultural facts of life. Farm animals function, in effect, as food factories in reverse; that is they give us less nutrition than they are fed. For instance, a cow will give us as beef only 10% of the protein and 4% of the calories it consumes. The rest is used by the cow to enable it to live and breathe throughout its lifetime. With 56 billion farm animals raised globally each year, you can see just how much food is being wasted. Wasting food by feeding it to farm animals fuels the global hunger crisis. With developing countries quickly changing from their traditional plant-centered diet to a western-style, meat-centered diet, it’s easy to see how hunger and malnutrition can spread. Many of these people live in countries which could feed themselves, but farmers, policy makers, and governments choose to feed crops to farm animals instead of people. The result is that they often need to import grain to feed their human population. This is expensive and drives up prices. A rising global population makes wasting food this way even more harmful.
America is addicted to meat. Our own meat habit is so prominent that, in America, 70 percent of all the corn and 80 percent of all the soybeans grown go to feed farm animals. Even one third of the fish caught in the world’s oceans are fed to farm animals. It’s so wasteful. If we want to feed the hungry in other lands, what sense does it make to waste it at home?
Vegetarian diets are the solution to global hunger, or at the very least the biggest part of it. With few exceptions, those countries with chronic hunger and malnutrition problems could feed themselves, if they would only stop taking their crops and feeding them to animals, and make them available for people instead. These countries would also save a lot of money since they would no longer need to pay for imported food.
Yes, the world’s population is rising quickly, and that puts pressure on global food supplies, but a vegetarian diet could easily support a world population much larger than today’s. With a rising population, the only sustainable way out of the global hunger crisis is by reducing meat consumption or becoming vegetarians.