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Go Vegetarian or the World Will Go Hungry

Go Vegetarian or the World Will Go Hungry

The days when those of us who don’t eat meat are in the minority could be numbered and sooner than you think. New research by scientists from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) says that, unless the world’s population switches to a diet that is almost completely vegetarian over the next forty years, there will be “catastrophic” food shortages.

The reason? Water scarcity.

According to SIWI’s research, humans today derive 20 percent of their protein from animal-based products and one-third of the world’s arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals.

But protein-rich food from animals consumes five to ten times more water than a vegetarian diet does. If humans only derived 5 percent of their protein from animal-based products, there would be “just enough water,” say the scientists.

Widespread Food Shortages and Social Unrest

With the global population expected to grow by 2 billion by 2050 — to total 9 billion — massive food shortages are predicted, a situation exacerbated by the earth’s increasingly erratic climate. Already, “nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase,” the scientists note.

Therefore, feeding 2 billion more people “will place greater pressure on available water and land” with ramifications for political and social unrest. In 2008, food shortages were the reason for civil unrest in 28 countries.

The United Nations and Oxfam have issued warnings that a second global food crisis could occur in the next five years. These fears have been heightened due to the severe droughts in the US and Russia that have meant prices for corn, wheat and soy are up by 50 percent.

There’s Only So Much Water

Competition between using water for food production and other needs will only grow, say the SWIW scientists:

The UN predicts that we must increase food production by 70% by mid-century. This will place additional pressure on our already stressed water resources, at a time when we also need to allocate more water to satisfy global energy demand – which is expected to rise 60% over the coming 30 years – and to generate electricity for the 1.3 billion people currently without it.

Vegetarianism is Hardly New

Pointing out that Gandhi and Einstein were vegetarians, as was the ancient writer Plutarch, a Guardian editorial says

Being a vegetarian can carry with it an oppressive aura of smugness, as each day being a carnivore gets a bit more like smoking – an act that is not only self-destructive but damaging the rest of the world too. …Going veggie is the only sane response.

It’s also not nearly as difficult, or as “weird,” to be a vegetarian as when I decided to stop eating meat thirty years ago. As Lagusta Yearwood writes in the Guardian, many cultures around the world have long traditions of meatless cuisine:

When kings and queens were busy dying from gout because of their overly rich diets, housewives in Sicily were making luscious caponata from aubergines and celery in a sweet and sour marinade; women in Oaxaca were wrapping corn dough around roasted chilies, seeds, and vegetables to make tamales filled with mole sauces; cooks in Egypt were frying onions in precious olive oil and topping their lentils and rice with them to make koshari; women in Africa were pounding peanuts to make rich stews laced with fresh greens and spices..

Eating vegetarian “tastes good and it does you good,” says the Guardian. This should be — along with ethical concerns about the conditions in which animals are raised and slaughtered —  reason enough to forego meat.

The SWIW’s research shows why, before we know it, vegetarianism will not be a matter of choice but absolutely necessary in order to feed every mouth around the world.

Related Care2 Coverage

USDA Backs Off Meatless Mondays After Livestock Producers Cry Foul

Celebrate Animal Freedom Day Worldwide

Drought Raises Beef, Poultry Prices: Time To Go Meatless?


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7:35AM PST on Dec 2, 2014

What will be the effect on the environment of intensively farmed grains and vegetables?

12:46AM PST on Nov 27, 2014

Thank You for sharing

4:32AM PST on Nov 26, 2014

noted, thanks

8:30AM PST on Nov 25, 2014


8:23AM PST on Nov 25, 2014

I'm so thrilled and wonderfully connected to my earth, being a vegetarians is a connection that we have with mother earth and our universe that becomes a inner urge to be content with respecting earth. The time is ticking away our Planet is being suffocated by all of the abuse on mother earth including; syphoning oil, using large amounts of water and killing our animals for human consumption.

6:40AM PST on Nov 25, 2014

Here in the US, a lot of people are overweight, so it certainly could not hurt them to eat more fruits and vegetables. I stopped eating meat years ago when I finally came to the realization I was condoning animal suffering and murder. Ethically, I don't understand how anyone with compassion can continue to eat meat. But sadly, I think this article is wrong, as people will continue to eat meat in mass proportions.

5:54AM PST on Nov 25, 2014

Read and decide for yourself.. And then go do more research. There is a possible way to eat meat and not wipe out the environment. It's called hunting. Lot's of people do it.

Oh! There is no Wi-Fi. And don't forget to grow your own veggies and fruits.

9:36AM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

The assumptions made in this article are open to a lot of debate, for one thing the largest factor in determining world hunger is climate as in drought.

Yvette T goes on about the invasive species that settlers brought over to the U.S. as farm animals. Many Native peoples in North, Central and South America ate/eat meat and the Inuit in Canada's arctic are one of the few peoples in the world that eat mainly a raw meat diet. While Americans can improve conditions in factory farms it is unlikely they will go vegetarian. Many people around the world have cut down on the amount of their meat consumption and some avoid the factory farms. If I eat meat, it will be the real organically pasture raised meat not tofurky. Wonder what wild tofurky sounds like in the forest? Gobble, gobble soy! Gobble, gobble, soy! No thanks.

12:55PM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

There are amazing mock meats out now such as vegan BEYOND MEAT sold in the tofu, mock meat section at Whole Foods, Sofie's vegan shrimp, crab cakes, fish and scallops sold in the freezer section of Whole Foods, etc. Every single animal is replicated either in Asian markets or Health food stores now.
"Americans" eat more than 1,000,000 animals per HOUR. These are NON-INDIGENOUS animals who have taken over all lands, forests, habitats of those who were here before the many invasive species crossed over the oceans in boats etc. My chief grandfathers signed contracts with John Smith, so I know the story of this invasion. All that is of true value has been from that time forward made profane.

Filthy Fact: The New Yorker, in a November 2009 review of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, says “Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” says “Americans also love to eat animals. This year, they will cook roughly twenty-seven billion pounds of beef, sliced from some thirty-five million cows. Additionally, they will consume roughly twenty-three billion pounds of pork, or the bodies of more than a hundred and fifteen million pigs, and thirty-eight billion pounds of poultry, some nine billion birds.”

8:05AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

Just because something should be done, doesn't mean it will be done.
"The days when those of us who don’t eat meat are in the minority could be numbered and sooner than you think." - I will believe it when I see it.

I think, humanity will desperately cling on to the last morcels of meat (why is it called meat anyway? It's flesh, just a way of trying to make something nasty more appealing-> change the name, they'll never know!) when 2/3 of the world's population are already dead. Just like they won't stop using cars running on gas until the price for a gallon is up to 50$.

Call it laziness, call it shortsightedness, outcome is the same. People won't change unless their own life is on the line.

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