People in industrialized countries become more and more aware of the impact their lifestyles have on the rest of the planet. Consumers realize that most goods they buy come from countries where workers are exploited for cheap labour and have to endure terrible working conditions. Corporations that operate in these countries usually are not mandated to follow specific labour codes and are not subjected to any pollution control or protection of the environment. We become more and more aware of the toll our materialistic lifestyles takes on the environment, poverty-stricken people, factory workers, sewers etc. so we can buy cheap consumer products. However, we seem to be oblivious to what impact our eating habits have on the planet and people in need for food.
According to the World Food Programme there are about 795 million people in the world who do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. Poor nutrition is also the cause for nearly half of deaths in children under five, that’s 3.1 million children each year.
Some of the reasons for people going hungry are fluctuating weather patterns as a result of climate change, extremely low grain reserves, high oil prices, the surge in biofuels production, and the “meatification” of the global diet have contributed to the increase in the number of hungry in recent years, states an HSI Report.
Much of the growing demand for animal products is being met by industrial animal operations—large-scale production facilities that are spreading around the world, including Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam. On a global scale as of 2001-2003, these operations produced 67% of the world’s farmed chickens, 50% of eggs, and 42% of farmed pigs. (HSI Report)
A study by the University of Minnesota from 2013 found that only 55% of crop calories (calories from plants that grown on farmland also suitable to grow food for people) worldwide are actually consumed by people. Further more the study states that the U.S. agriculture alone could feed an additional 1 billion people by shifting crop calories to direct human consumption. That’s more than 795 million who are currently starving.
After facing the facts it seems utterly irresponsible to support such a wasteful animal agriculture system but even if you’ve decided to shift to a 100% plant-based diet, your tax dollars will still support the animal agriculture industry with various subsidies. Shifting to a plant-based diet is the first step fighting hunger in the world but ultimately our food system has to be transformed to be just and sustainable. Exploiting and killing animals for food is not only cruel and unnecessary for human health, it also wastes resources, is a major factor for climate change and ultimately competes with the ability to provide all people on the planet with nutritious food.