Friday, March 20, 2009

End hunger by having a sirloin?

A local community group just started advertising something they're doing to raise money for a food bank - it's obvious that no vegetarians or vegans were part of this. The premise is that you have a steak dinner at a local restaurant for $20.00, and $2.00 from each meal goes to the food bank.

I couldn't help myself. I wrote the community group a nice email detailing the intimate connection between the meat-rich (particularly beef) diet and world hunger.

I came across some neat stuff while writing my email.

In the Independent Online I found The Big Question: Is changing our diet the key to resolving the global food crisis?

How does eating meat cause hunger?
Because it is a very inefficient way of producing food. It takes 8kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef, and large tracts of forest have been cleared for grazing land that might have been used to grow crops. Chicken is more efficient to produce – it takes 2kg of feed to produce 1kg of meat. To maximise food production it is best to be vegan. According to Simon Fairlie, in his magazine The Land, it would take just 3 million hectares of arable land to meet Britain's food needs, half the current total, if the population were vegan.

From WorldWatch, 2004, 17(4) pg12-19 I found a fairly devastating (for the meat industry) article with the very long title Now, it's not personal! But like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet.
Here's an excerpt from the article abstract:

As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening humanity - deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.

The WorldWatch group is biased by the way. I happen to think they're right and I agree with them, but they're the group behind Happier Meals (which you can find a free copy of if you google it) and they've been on about the meat industry for a long time now.

Here are the other links I provided in my letter to this community group, some of which you've seen before on this blog:

Wired Online - Food Riots Begin: Will you go vegetarian?

BBC - Hungry World Must Eat less meat

Guardian - Only a radical change of diet can halt looming food crises

U.N. Food & Agricultural Association: Livestock's Long Shadow


FixedXorBroken said...

"It takes 8kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef"

So they should give $160 to charity for you eating a $20 steak dinner!

Andie said...

It's an interesting article. My only beef is the claim about how many kg of grain it takes to produce however many kg of beef. See, I've read a lot of these articles and each one says a different amount! I've literally seen/heard them range from 10-1 to 100-1 (generally in lbs., though, no kg).

So it's confusing and I'm left feeling that this statistic is useless b/c no one can seem to agree on what the actual number is.

In other news, Tuco, my husband is asking for your zucchini bread recipe. Can you hook us up?

Tuco said...

Hey Andie - the most common ratio I've heard is 7 to 1. Whatever it is, it's probably persuasive enough to make the vegetarian argument a strong one.

Zuccini Bread - coming up!! : )

Smudgemo said...

Advising people of meat issues seems to useless. You look in their eyes and you just know they are only hearing, "Blah, blah, blah..."