Rural Development: “Vegetarianism contributes to the end of world hunger”

You may be wondering how a vegetarian diet can contribute both to reduce world hunger and to increase food security, which will be crucial in the coming years.

Global population is now over 7,000 million people and we already have 925 million hungry people worldwide, but in 2050, the world population will exceed 9,000 million people, and nearly all of this population increase will occur in developing countries.  So here is the challenge: How are we going to feed them?

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If we analyze this challenge from a biological perspective, we have that nutrients and energy pass through the trophic levels of the ecosystem when organism feed one on another. Therefore, every time one organism is eaten by another organism, approximately 90% of the energy is lost.

With that amount of population living in this planet we could not afford anymore the 90% energy loss that occurs when plants are fed to animals, as eating meat is by far less efficient than eating vegetables, due to it can takes 8 kilos of grain to create just half kilo of edible flesh. Actually, nowadays we are using huge amounts of grain, soybeans, and corn to feed all the animals we use for food when we should reduced intensively breeding farmed animals and increased to grow crops to feed humans instead.

For example, the grains and soybeans fed to American livestock each year could feed more than 1.5 billion people going hungry. The President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, Jeremy Rifkin, stated: “Cattle and other livestock are devouring much of the grain produced on the planet. It needs to be emphasized that this is a new phenomenon, unlike anything ever experienced before.”


The same amount of grain can support 10 times more people at the herbivore trophic level than at the carnivore one, we will have to feed ourselves at the herbivore level if we want the planet to support the exponential population growth.

The United Nations Environment Program (ENEP) and The European Commission have jointly launched a major report calling for shift to a vegan diet to save the earth and a radical change in the way that economies uses resources known to be dwindling at alarming rates in order to minimize the environmental impact. The report was presented to world governments, urge policy makers to adopt measures to avoid adverse consequences.



The study title “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production” identified two leading causes of environmental pressure: fossil fuels and agriculture, with specific attention giving to the livestock sector. We can read there, as I said before, that as meat has a higher energy used per kilogram produced than vegetables, we have to find priorities. The report explains that with a growing global population and developing economies, the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and food security will be even more dangerous, unless patterns of productions and consumptions become more sustainable.

The report says that a global change in meat consumption is vital to avoid devastating consequences. “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

They are thinking about taxing meat consumption in order to take seriously the limitation of it consumption. UNEP executive director Achim Steiner highlighted the destructive role of livestock, stating: “Two broad areas are currently having a disproportionately high impact on people and the planet’s life support systems; these are energy in the form of fossil fuels and agriculture, specially the raising of livestock for meat and dairy products. Some tough choices are signaled in this report, but it may prove even more challenging for everyone if the current paths continue in to the coming decades. ”

The Challenge of Hunger is one of the top 10 of the world.  Every year more people die from hunger than other causes such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. However, it is the easiest problem to solve the world faces today, but only if we begin to work on it from now and if we change our eating habits in order to use in an efficient way the resources we have.

As every individual makes a difference, when just one person adopts a vegetarian diet, his action frees up enough land to feed as many as 19 other people. Coming back to the American example, if just 10 percent of Americans meat eaters adopted a vegetarian diet, we would have 12 million more tons of grain to feed humans.

As the larger the population, the more energy it takes to sustain it. The least contribution we can make is reducing the amount of meat we are consuming nowadays, because although becoming vegetarian will not immediately stop hunger in a very short-term, however it is a positive step towards saving resources that can be used to feed people instead consumption animals in the future. What means the increase of food security and the reduction of the amount of people dying from hunger every day.

The conclusion is that we need to prioritize a widespread shift to a diet free of animal products in order to ensure the survival of lives on Earth. We do still have time if we act now, so, we have to ask ourselves: how many people am I going to let daily die because of my eating habits?







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