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?

 

Photo by NewZ2000

378 comments

Jeanne R
Jeanne R5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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David S.
David S2 years ago

Part 5 of 5 continued.

The WHO (World Health Organization) reports that consuming dead animals probably causes cancer.
Press release: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf
The consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.

World Health Organization and the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in a landmark report.
"Populations should consume nutritionally adequate and varied diets, based primarily on foods of plant origin with small amounts of added flesh foods. Households should select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses or legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods. The evidence that such diets will prevent or delay a significant proportion of non-communicable chronic diseases is consistent. A predominantly plant-based diet has a low energy density, which may protect against obesity." "Although two-thirds of the world's population depends on cereal or tuber-based diets, the other one-third consumes significant amounts of animal food products. The latter group places an undue demand on land, water, and other resources required for intensive food production, which makes the typical Western diet not only undesirable from the standpoint of health but also environmentally unsustainable. If we balance

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David S.
David S2 years ago

Part 4 continued.

The United States Department of Agriculture
Vegetarian diets (see context) can meet all the recommendations for nutrients. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs. Follow the food group recommendations for your age, sex, and activity level to get the right amount of food and the variety of foods needed for nutrient adequacy. Nutrients that vegetarians may need to focus on include protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federally appointed panel of nutritionists created in 1983, decided for the first time this year to factor in environmental sustainability in its recommendations. They include a finding that a diet lower in animal-based foods is not only healthier, but has less of an environmental impact.
The organically grown vegan diet also had the lowest estimated impact on resources and ecosystem quality, and the average Italian diet had the greatest projected impact,” according to the report. “Beef was the single food with the greatest projected impact on the environment; other foods estimated to have high impact included cheese, milk, and seafood.
http://thehill.com/regulation/237767-vegan-diet-best-for-planet-federal-report-says

The WHO (World Health Organization) reports that consuming dead animals probably causes cancer.
Press release: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf
The consumption of re

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David S.
David S2 years ago

Part 3 continued.

The British Nutrition Foundation
A well-planned, balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate ... Studies of UK vegetarian and vegan children have revealed that their growth and development are within the normal range. www.nutrition.org.uk/publications/briefingpapers/vegetarian-nutrition

Dietitians of Canada
A well planned vegan diet can meet all of these needs. It is safe and healthy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, babies, children, teens and seniors. www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Vegetarian/Eating-Guidelines-for-Vegans.aspx

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Vegetarian diets (see context) can provide all the nutrients you need at any age, as well as some additional health benefits. www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3484249/k.2F6C/Healthy_living__Vegetarian_diets.htm

The Mayo Clinic
A well-planned vegetarian diet (see context) can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breast-feeding women. The key is to be aware of your nutritional needs so that you plan a diet that meets them. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/vegetarian-diet/art-20046446

The United States Department of Agriculture
Vegetarian diets (see context) can meet all the recommendations for nutrients. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs. Follow the food group recommendat

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David S.
David S2 years ago

Part 2 continued.

The Dietitians Association of Australia
Vegan diets are a type of vegetarian diet, where only plant-based foods are eaten. They differ to other vegetarian diets in that no animal products are usually consumed or used. Despite these restrictions, with good planning it is still possible to obtain all the nutrients required for good health on a vegan diet. http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/vegan-diets/

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council concludes:
Alternatives to animal foods include nuts, seeds, legumes, beans and tofu. For all Australians, these foods increase dietary variety and can provide a valuable, affordable source of protein and other nutrients found in meats. These foods are also particularly important for those who follow vegetarian or vegan dietary patterns. Australians following a vegetarian diet can still meet nutrient requirements if energy needs are met and the appropriate number and variety of serves from the Five Food Groups are eaten throughout the day.
www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n55

The British National Health Service
With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs. www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Vegandiets.aspx

The British Nutrition Foundation
A well-planned, balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate ... Studies of UK vegetarian and

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David S.
David S2 years ago

There are some sad carnists ( www.carnism.com) trolling care2's articles. Thankfully there is a constant growing body of evidence and resources demonstrating the illness and destruction they try to spread against society, animals and the environment. Society is slowly evolving for the better. The truth can not easily be hidden because of the internet, and those that remain carnists are dying off from disease.

The worlds major dietetics and health organizations agree that vegan and vegetarian diets are just as or more healthful than omnivorous diets for humans. https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/professional-and-career-resources/dietetic-associations

American Dietetic Association
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

The president of the American College of Cardiology advises to go vegan. Dr. Kim A. Williams became a vegan in 2003 because he was concerned that his LDL cholesterol — the kind associated with an increased risk of heart disease — was too high.

The Dietitians Association of Australia
Vegan diets are a type

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