Sunday, April 24, 2011

We can survive thanks to vegetarians

You may have lots of reasons to be a vegetarian (and lots of reasons not to be), but anyway this post is not about the reasons why someone decides to become vegetarian, but the reasons why thousands of people are “forced vegetarians” –in short, those people whose diet has no (or very few) proteins of animal origin because they cannot afford meat.
Meat production is much more expensive (in terms of money and surface) than vegetable and cereal production, because animals are fed with large amounts of vegetables for each kilo of eatable meat. Therefore, as we are no longer a hunter-gatherer society, eating meat is a luxury that not everybody can afford.
In 2002, FAO announced that the current food production rate would cover all the needs of the world’s population and there would be even 10% surplus, but there must be something wrong because a large amount of the world’s population is starving. And this is so because a large amount of food production is meant for other purposes, like biofuels or animal feed.
Our diet in Western countries is very rich in meat and non-basic food, thus requiring wide extensions of arable land. To be precise, a non-vegetarian Western diet needs 4,000 square metres of arable land per capita. On the other hand, a vegetarian diet based on intensive farming needs about 700 or 800 square metres of arable land per capita. At present, most people cannot follow a “Western” diet and that’s why we can: if all the inhabitants of our planet needed 4,000 square metres of arable land per capita, just one planet would not be enough. Then, what would happen if hunger was over, poverty was reduced and the rest of non-Western people claimed our diet? It would simply be unsustainable.
Therefore, there are two choices left: either reducing our consumption or forcing the rest of the world to go on starving. The former is not such an extreme option and it does not involve giving up meat: FAO estimates that a balanced diet would be enough --that is, including 30% of proteins of animal origin (specially dairy products, egg, poultry and pork), fairly intensive farming and 2,500 kcal per capita (a little bit more than WHO recommendation) to feed 10 billion people without increasing the current extension of arable land. This type of diet only requires 1,500 square metres of arable land per capita: almost one third of the current Western consumption.
This is not such a radical change in our diet and it would improve the life conditions of millions of people. We cannot go on consuming such huge amounts of meat because it just does not add up. We can either gradually change our habits and our diet, or turn our back on this problem for a couple of more generations, but eventually we will be forced to react. As Gandhi used to say, live simply that other may simply live.

Sources:

  1. FAO’s website: http://www.fao.org/
  2. Delivering Data post about world hunger: http://www.deliveringdata.com/2010/11/how-much-money-is-needed-to-eradicate.html
  3. WHO’s website: http://www.who.int/en/
  4. Gandhi’s quotation:  http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/35236.html

2 comments:

  1. Being vegetarian maybe one of the healthiest way of living. It is not easy to be a vegetarian, it neeeds a lot of change, as we need totally avoid meat and other foods. Though it is not necessary to be a pure vegetarian, we can do balance diet, where we can eat fruits, vegetables and meat.

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  2. خدمات جديدة يمكنك متابعتها من خلال شركة ركن البيت التي تقدم اعمال متميزة في مدن جديدة ومتخصصة في مجال النظافة مثل شركة تنظيف بالجبيل
    التي لديها لنظافة جميع المباني والمنشأت بواسطة عمالة متميزة ولديك ايضا شركة تنظيف بالاحساء
    التي تقدم خدمات اساسية يتطلبها جميع العملاء مثل نظافة الموكيت والسجاد والشقق والفلل فتحقيق خدمات النظافة المنزلية لن تجدها الا معنافي ركن البيت بواسطة العمالة المميزة التي تمتلكها والاليات التي تسادهم في ذلك اليك خدمة ايضا النظافة في مدينة القطيف عندما تبحث عن شركة تنظيف بالقطيف
    ستجد خدمات شركتنا امامك تحقق لك كل متطلبات النظافة التي ترغب فيها

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