Vegetarian Food

For decades, scientists are trying to figure out how to ensure the human race to strive despite the finite amount of resources. In order to do that, researchers are trying to come up with ways to prolong the availability of natural resources before they turn scarce. While there are many obvious solutions to increase sustainability, one, in particular, got a skeptical reception from the mass public and that is, going vegan. Of course, it’s almost impossible to get everyone on this planet to eat only fruits and vegetables but perhaps the depletion of the resources can be slowed down using this approach, some vegans are still better than none.

As it stands in 2020, the human population is approximately 8 billion and is growing about 1 percent [1] each year till it’s about 10 billion in 2050. If 2050 were to have humans with dietary plans as today, the impact of meat enthusiasts to the environment would see an increase of 50 to 90 percent, and it’s not even the good kind. These effects include increased usage of land, higher water consumption, extinction of animal species and etc. Believe it or not, if somehow everyone turns vegan, solving hunger is very possible, that is, with numbers. According to a study in 2013, 9.46 quadrillion of calories are produced through plants globally. Feeding about 8 billion human beings that require 2700 calorie s per day which would result in 7.4 quadrillion calories requirement per year. However only 55 percent of calories go directly to humans and 9 percent are used industrially and the rest is used to feed livestock [2]. 36 percent of the crops to feed livestock is significant and could be reduced if meat consumption is reduced. Less meat consumption means less livestock and less livestocks means more calorie allocation to us humans.

In terms of land usage, livestock accounts for 77 percent of global farming land which is approximately 27 percent of the world’s habitable land. The rest of the habitable land includes forest, shrubs, grass lands etc. [3]. 27 percent of the world’s habitable land is significant especially when you can fit billions of human beings and animal species in this space. To build more farms to accommodate live stocks, there must be more deforestations and with deforestations comes different problems such as increase of greenhouse gases (CO2) and destruction of wildlife habitats. These two are gargantuan problems to the environment  because in the US alone, where 260 million acres of forests have been cleared, 1 in 5 animal and plant species are at risk of extinction [4].

Statistically, food wastage cannot be avoided whether it’s meat or the greens and it is estimated in the US, food waste is between 30-40 percent of the food supply [5]. Food will have to undergo decaying in result of the wastage and the decaying process of fruits and vegetable is less harmful compared to meat. The harmfulness is in terms of the type of gas that the food is releasing. In the case of meats, decaying produces methane gas which is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse effects. Other than that, just like humans, cows, goats and pigs, many other live stocks belch to keep themselves comfortable and the amount of belching would range between 100 to 200 liters per day for cows. And it so happens that the amount of methane a cow produces a day is equal to what a car produces a day [6].

Preparing and providing for the future generation is important and with the staggering number of challenges that humans face today it requires us to take immediate actions to avoid this environmental crisis. The answers really are in the numbers, just like how any other problems are. If it’s mathematically impossible, then it means it is not feasible. Studies and research that propose veganism as a way to save the earth really makes you think if everyone is ready to give up their meat luxuries for the better future.

 

References

[1] M. Roser, “Future Population Growth,” November 2019.
[2] K. Pevreall, “Could Veganism end world hunger”.
[3] E. C. K. G. K. S. S. L. D. &. R. 1. Ellis, “Anthropogenic transformation of the biomes, 1700 to 2000.,” Global Ecology and Biogeography, pp. 589-606., November 2010.
[4] W. A. Foundation, “Animal Agriculture Causing Extinctions,” 30 January 2020.
[5] U.S. Department Of Agriculture, “Food Waste FAQ”.
[6] J. Silverman, “Do cows pollute as much as cars”.

 

Written by Ahamed Shahul Azrar

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