by Dawn Moncrief, Founding Director
Finally, world experts and the media are increasing attention to the role vegetarianism MUST play for food security.
Both The Huffington Post and The Guardian reported on the new study by the The Stockholm International Water Institute. SIWI’s top scientists “issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.”
Hopefully, we will choose to make changes before they are forced upon us by economic and/or environmental catastrophe. In fact, A Well-Fed World was organized specifically to highlight the connections between animal agriculture and global food security… specifically, to demonstrate why minimizing meat MUST be part of decision-making.*
And here’s what else we have to say …
Without much context, The Huffington Post gives a brief nod to the U.S. for recent decreases in meat consumption. Meatless Mondays is thought to play a part as it booms in popularity. And while we support these types of campaigns, they are not nearly enough. As of 2007, the U.S. was the 2nd largest meat consumer per person. Since then, we have taken bragging rights for reducing, while China and others are blamed for the drastic global “increases.”
Focusing on growth and increases redirects blame…
China’s skyrocketing demand for meat has devastating consequences globally because they are the world’s most populous country with 1.3+ billion people. But we must look beyond “growth” and consider the great disparities in starting points and current consumption levels. Especially when countries such as the U.S. are lauded for reducing our meat consumption (between 6%–12% since 2007) even while we’re still one of the top per capita consumers in the world.
Here’s an illustration: the U.S. starts at 10 units of meat consumption per person and China starts at 2 units. There is great alarm as China DOUBLES their consumption… and there is applause as the U.S. decreases 10%. The end result, however, is the U.S. at 9 units per person and China at 4 units.
It is very convenient for the U.S. to focus on China and other countries. China’s total meat consumption is now twice the U.S.’s because their population is four times greater. The U.S. still consumes more than twice the amount of meat per person than China.
We must look at the global trends as meat is predicted to double over 50 years, but the U.S. should be leading the way in drastic reductions because: (1) we are top consumers so there are steeper decreases we can make; and (2) as a global leader our habits and policies have immense and far-reaching impact.
More and more reports are concluding what we already know… we must immediately and drastically reverse the trend of increasing meat consumption. The data is clear. What we need is the political and economic will to make the changes. In addition to reports, we as individuals, grassroots groups, social justice organizations, religious institutions, business communities, and more must increase our pressure to encourage more change in this direction. The leaders must know there is public support… so let’s continue to spread the word and insist on change as we be the change.
END NOTE: * Minimizing meat includes all animal products. The ideal is fully plant-based food and agricultural systems.