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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Animal Agriculture Doesn't Add Up

Copied from Goveg.com


The more meat we eat, the fewer people we can feed. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people could be nourished. Dropping that figure to 15 percent would mean that 4.2 billion people could be fed. If everyone went vegan, there would be more than enough food to nourish the world's entire population—more than 6.3 billion people. The WorldWatch Institute sums this up perfectly, saying, "[M]eat consumption is an inefficient use of grain—the grain is used more efficiently when consumed by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world's poor."

The average adult human burns about 2,000 calories per day, just living his or her life. We use almost all the calories that we consume to move around, breathe, and do everyday tasks. The same is true of farmed animals. For every pound of food that they are fed, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh. This is why, according to Compassion in World Farming, it takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh. According to the USDA and the United Nations, using an acre of land to raise cattle for slaughter yields 20 pounds of usable protein. That same acre would yield 356 pounds of protein if soybeans were grown instead—more than 17 times as much!


Producing the grain that is used to feed farmed animals requires vast amounts of water. It takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a meat-eater. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.

It should be no surprise, then, that food for a vegan can be produced on only 1/6 of an acre of land, while it takes 3 1/4 acres of land to produce food for a meat-eater. If we added up all the arable land on the planet and divided it equally, every human would get 2/3 of an acre—more than enough to sustain a vegetarian diet, but not nearly enough to sustain a meat-eater.

Dr. Waldo Bello, executive director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, concurs that raising animals for meat is a waste of resources, stating, "The American fast-food diet and the meat-eating habits of the wealthy around the world support a world food system that diverts food resources from the hungry."13 Researchers and policymakers who study the problem of world hunger agree that we have plenty of resources to feed vegans, but not nearly enough to feed our addiction to meat.

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