People become vegetarians for different reasons.
Some people become vegetarians because they want to end animal suffering, and some do it for the environment while others do it for a healthier lifestyle. Being a vegetarian is a choice we make, but is increasing the number of vegetarians the best way to solve the looming global food crisis?
Here are 5 Facts about the Looming Food Crisis:
People Starving –
The looming global food crisis is inevitable, as the human population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. In the developing third-world countries such as Ethiopia, people are starving, yet they have the most livestock available. The problem is that a quarter of all grains available and produced in the developing third world countries are going to feed the animals instead of going to feed the starving people. The global food crisis is being fueled by wasting food on the livestock. The animals are killed and then eaten by the developed and affluent countries that can afford it. If these grains were used to feed people instead of animals, we would have more food available worldwide. According to Cornell University, the grains used to feed livestock in the United States alone could feed 800 million people.
Water is another issue when it comes to the global food crisis as it is needed to grow the crops of grains that feed the animals. Animal protein-rich foods consume 5-10 times more water than their vegetarian counterpart. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef yet it only takes 180 gallons to make one pound of wheat flour. For a 150-gram beef burger, it takes 1,000 liters of water, but for a 150-gram soy burger, it only takes 160 liters of water. Becoming a vegetarian can help increase water available to grow more grains for food. The manure used to raise the farm animals produces hydrogen sulfide and ammonia which are toxic substances that pollute not only the air but also the water. Polluting our waters adds to the problem as we all need water to survive.
Environmental Impact –
Being a vegetarian would help the environment because about seven times as much grain is required to feed our meat industry compared to that used in bio-fuel (760 million tons of grain and 100 million tons respectively). Eating meat represents one of the most significant contributors to environmental damage, leading to 40% more greenhouse-gas emissions compared to transportation. Greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by enteric fermentation which is the gas emitted from the animal into the environment. They are also made by the decomposing of manure, along with the tearing down of trees to make more room for the animals to graze and feed. 54% more greenhouse-gas emissions are due to diets containing meat versus their vegetarian counterpart. Grass-fed beef sounds like a better option, but it isn’t. Grass-fed beef produces more methane than grain-fed cows do. Methane is a global-warming gas more potent than carbon dioxide. When these cows get bigger, so does the amount of methane gas that is emitted.
Global Warming –
Global warming is an issue that is escalating in severity. Changes in weather have a significant impact on farmers and their cultivation of crops. If the plants can’t grow, it affects not only the plant-based dieter but also the meat eaters as well. The climate change affecting the harvest will also lead to an increase in food prices due to the crops lowered production rate. This price increase is especially arduous for the underdeveloped third world countries that can’t afford higher prices. Today half the world’s agricultural land is used for livestock farming which is worse for the environment and less effective in feeding people. As the climate warms and the temperatures continue to rise, there will have to be a shift in what crops can and can’t grow.
Soil Erosion –
Another big issue that people do not talk about is soil erosion. The soil is where the food begins, and without it, the crops we plant will not grow. Soil formation is a prolonged process and can take many years. In an area such as Iowa, it can take 200 years for a mere inch of soil to produce. One of the biggest causes of soil erosion is raising livestock for meat. Farm animals are the cause of 85% of all soil erosion in the United States alone. Large herds of grazing cattle can cause enormous amounts of soil to erode. It is the plants and vegetation that hold the dirt down and help resist erosion. When the animals graze on the plants and vegetation, it then becomes easily eroded by wind and rain. Without soil, not only will the crops we plant not grow but neither will the vegetation.
A simple adjustment in our daily diets from eating meat multiple times a week to even once a week could help reduce the problem. Less grain would be going to feed the animals which in turn would help reduce the cost of the food and make it more affordable for the poor. This adjustment would also help control the greenhouse-gas emissions from the livestock. If we had fewer animals grazing, that would mean fewer gas emissions. It would also help prevent soil erosion which if left untreated could be devastating to humanity. Our climate is changing, but we can change that if we start now.
By making even one day out of the week a vegetarian day, it could make all the difference in the world. If each person on the planet were to do this, it could reverse this looming global food crisis.