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We know the earth’s human population is booming. Already numbering over seven billion people, studies project we’ll reach nine billion by 2050. Of course, more people means we’ll need more resources to sustain ourselves. Extra food, water, and land will be required to meet our basic needs.

However, even now at seven billion people, an estimated 805 million people suffer from chronic hunger. In addition, our natural resources are already under intense strain. From our rainforests to our oceans, natural habitats and the plants and animals that live there are disappearing at an alarming rate. If our population increases by two billion in the next 35 years, we’re going to need to give some serious thought as to how we can adequately feed everyone while still protecting what natural environment is left.

A plant-based diet has been proposed by some as the solution to our food problems. But would a shift to such a diet make a difference? Could the earth sustain nine billion people living on a plant-based diet?

The Problem With a Meat-Centric Diet

great number of people today eat a Western diet that is heavy in meat, dairy, and eggs. Regions that traditionally adhered to largely plant-based diets have started adopting diets that include more animal products in tandem with their own national development and increased wealth. Most people rarely, if ever, stop to consider the resources required to produce their food.

The problem is that the standard Western diet is extremely resource intensive. In order to produce animal products, land, water, and energy are required to grow, harvest, and transport the feed that is then fed to the farmed animals. We currently produce enough calories to feed 10-11 billion people worldwide, however, the majority of this food goes to feed livestock, not hungry people.

After feed for livestock is produced, additional land, water, and energy resources are required to house and raise the animals and dispose of their waste. Eventually, even more energy is required to transport these animals to slaughter and process their bodies.

To give you can idea of how this all breaks down, it is estimated that people who eat beef use 160 times more land, water and fuel resources to sustain their diets than their plant-based counterparts.

Because we are already struggling to feed our current population, we should be adhering to a diet that minimizes the use of our precious resources – not a diet that requires astronomical amounts of resources. But do other diets actually minimize resource use in a meaningful way?

Comparing Resource Requirements Between Diets

A quick look at the amount of resources required to produce animal products versus the amount of resources required to produce plants in the U.S. alone is astonishing:

  • We use 56 million acres of land for animal agriculture while dedicating only four million acres of land to growing produce;
  • A staggering 70 percent of grain in the U.S. is fed to farmed animals rather than to people (The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people — more than the entire human population on Earth);
  • It takes 4,200 gallons of water PER DAY to produce a meat-eater’s diet. A plant-based diet uses only 300 gallons of water per day. Additionally, a whopping 70 percent of our domestic freshwater goes directly to animal agriculture;
  • All resources taken into account, one acre of land can produce 250 pounds of beef. Sounds pretty good, right? Not when you consider the fact that the same acre of land can produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes or 53,000 pounds of potatoes.

Instead of using our resources in the most energy-efficient way possible by growing plants to feed directly to people, we currently use our dwindling land and water to grow grain to then feed to animals who we then eat, giving us considerably less bang for our resource “buck.” By some estimates, we could feed 1.4 billion additional people simply by giving up beef, pork, and poultry in the United States. Think of what we could do if the entire world gave up all animal products!

Feeding the World

If trends continue as predicted, our population will continue to grow, more people will adopt a Western diet, and our natural resources will become more and more scarce. We need to determine the best way to feed ourselves without totally decimating our environment now before irreversible damage is done.

Based on the above data, the earth simply cannot sustain nine billion people on a Western diet. Animal product-heavy Western diets are significantly more resource intensive than plant-based diets, and there are already substantial indications that we are over-taxing our resources trying to sustain our current population of seven billion.

While at an individual level, we may not have the power to change government policies and business practices overnight to ensure food security, we do have the power to control our lifestyle choices.

As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future.

By choosing to eat more plant-based foods you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. With the wealth of available plant-based options available, it has never been easier to eat with the planet in mind.

Our everyday food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future.
One Green Planet’s #EatForthePlanet movement.

How to Participate:

1. Choose a plant-based/vegan meal

2. Snap a photo and upload to Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter.

3. Add #EatForThePlanet and @OneGreenPlanet in your update.

Let’s show the world how eating vegan/plant-based has never been easier or more delicious!


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309 comments on “Can We Solve World Hunger and Feed 9 Billion People Just By Eating Less Meat?”

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Shoshanna Imani
11 Months Ago

Berkley Bragg


Reply
Shoshanna Imani
11 Months Ago

Berkley Bragg


Reply
Jacob Swayze
11 Months Ago

I love meat


Reply
Ann McKillop
11 Months Ago

I think the answer is a resounding NO! Ditching meat would be wonderful, but how about also convincing people not to have more than one child, at the most, if any? We might be able to just barely feed 9 billion, but at what cost to the animals and the environment? Yes, less cost if those people are vegan, but too big a cost all together for the earth.


Reply
Carola
07 Jan 2017

What good is 7 billion people eating "less meat" when we\'ll have 9 billion people eating more meat just because there will be more people? Imagine: 7 billion people driving cars and more cars being driven by 9 billion people? Agreed, that we may be able to just get by feeding 9 billion people, but at what cost do the animals and the planet?

Ann McKillop
11 Months Ago

I think the answer is a resounding NO! Ditching meat would be wonderful, but how about also convincing people not to have more than one child, at the most, if any? We might be able to just barely feed 9 billion, but at what cost to the animals and the environment? Yes, less cost if those people are vegan, but too big a cost all together for the earth.


Reply
Nancy McGinnis
11 Months Ago

Please consider going vegan


Reply
Gabriel Fenteany
11 Months Ago

I want to feed everyone! I want everyone to have the best material possible. But it's 9 billion now? We're at something in the 7 billions now. When does it stop? I mean, food supply is not the way to go, but what is? Birth control as an adjunct to food or other aid? What will keep Homo sapiens for expanding in numbers until there is nothing left? We're already in the middle of (not facing, but now in the very middle of) the sixth great mass extinction in the entire 4+ billion years of Earth's history, and the first that is man-made. Of vertebrate animals, only rats and chickens are thought to outnumber us. So what do we do about the human virus while minimizing human suffering?


Reply
Rob Whitford
11 Months Ago

Yup'


Reply
Stephanie Stubbornman
11 Months Ago

My husband and I are Ethical Vegans. We know the truth . We Love People and we Love Animals enough to not be self centered carnists. Self-centered people won't change until they developed true compassion and become Vegan. What Losers people are that can joke about world hunger.


Reply
Gordon Sherriff-Smith
24 Apr 2016

No-one was joking about world hunger, just enjoyable steaks. Take your inadequate egocentric nastiness and go label some-one else.........shit if that's what an ethical vegan is Then I am staying a meat muncher.

Gordon Sherriff-Smith
24 Apr 2016

No-one was joking about world hunger, just enjoyable steaks. Take your inadequate egocentric nastiness and go label some-one else.........shit if that's what an ethical vegan is Then I am staying a meat muncher.

Stephanie Stubbornman
24 Apr 2016

You can't un-know what you know. It's on you to become accountable to how your actions effect the world. Thanks for pointing out my inadequate egocentric nastiness. I'll strive to be more adequate when addressing flagrant disregard for Animals and Mankind . Look up Gary Yourofsky ,The Bite Size Vegan ,The Vegan Sidekick and Darth Vegan. They are more than adequate. I was an Egocentric Carnist too. Once aware I became Accountable. Corpse Muncher is a more accurate term. Your health should be a concern to you. How Not To Die Dr. Gregor addresses this.

Stephanie Stubbornman
11 Months Ago

My husband and I are Ethical Vegans. We know the truth . We Love People and we Love Animals enough to not be self centered carnists. Self-centered people won't change until they developed true compassion and become Vegan. What Losers people are that can joke about world hunger.


Reply


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