Food Shortages and Vegan Eating

There have been a number of things written recently about the impending global food shortage. According to Time Magazine:

The world economy has run into a brick wall. Despite countless warnings in recent years about the need to address a looming hunger crisis in poor countries and a looming energy crisis worldwide, world leaders failed to think ahead. The result is a global food crisis. Wheat, corn and rice prices have more than doubled in the past two years, and oil prices have more than tripled since the start of 2004. These food-price increases combined with soaring energy costs will slow if not stop economic growth in many parts of the world and will even undermine political stability, as evidenced by the protest riots that have erupted in places like Haiti, Bangladesh and Burkina Faso. reports that the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, has warned that the world’s supply of food is shrinking, creating “a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food.”

Demand is driven not only by an increasing population, but by an increasing shift by more people to a meat-heavy diet. It takes substantially more land to produce each calorie of meat than a corresponding calorie of vegetable food, because large quantities of vegetable foods, including grains, must go to feed animals instead of feeding humans directly.

As developing nations are becoming more affluent, the rise in demand for meat is increasing.

Often hungry during a poor childhood, he can now afford meat every day. It is a trend repeated across the most populous nation (China) that is affecting global prices of grain and dairy products, and raising the risk of hunger among the world’s poor as grain is diverted to fatten up animals.

On average Americans eat 129% more meat than the Chinese; Europeans consume 83% more. But in China’s case the fear is not of individual consumption, but of the multiples of scale and speed of 1.3 billion people growing richer at a rate of more than 10% a year.

Source: The Guardian

One of the easiest things we can do to help end hunger is to eat vegan, at least some of the time. Yes, there are other issues that are impacting the food availability to the rest of the globe, including inflation, distribution, pollution, and water shortages… I’m not naive enough to believe that my household dietary changes can actually help anyone as a standalone action. But rising food and fuel prices are making things a little less comfortable here. Perhaps this combination will help to convince others to consider eating vegan at least a few times a week, since vegan options are often cheaper than meat based options. And as less meat is consumed, more land can be made available for farming and more grain available for human consumption.

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