Michael Chatham writes:
WHENEVER someone in the animal rights community suggests the concept of complete animal liberation, and therefore an end to the exploitation of animals, a common criticism and counter-argument to this goal is: “Humans can’t give up eating animals (or animal products), because then everyone would starve!”
Not only is the idea of giving up their favorite edibles anxiety-inducing and even threatening to resolute omnivores, but it seems perfectly rational to them that, given the plight of humans around the globe who are suffering from poverty and hunger, removing animals from the world’s food supply would only exacerbate the situation. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is actually the production of animal-based foods that is one of the leading causes of world hunger.
It is estimated that a staggering 925 million humans around the world are suffering from the effects of hunger (mostly in the poor and underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa), and out of that original number, 870 million are affected with malnutrition. Those original 925 million actually outnumber the combined populace living in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Think about that for a moment. That means that there are enough hungry people on this planet to fill up almost two entire continents.
Furthermore, it must be made clear that this is not just benign hunger; the type felt by a person in the rich, developed world when they’ve missed their lunch break. Every year, starvation claims the lives of over 2.5 million children under the age of five.
However, it has been proven that there is enough food on earth to feed every last man, woman, and child. Yet, if this is the case, why do people around the world continue to starve? The answer to that question lies in large part with the production of animal-based foods, such as meat, dairy, and eggs.
Even though there are enough plant-based foods grown to feed the entire human population, the majority of crops (including those grown in countries where people are starving) are fed to livestock for affluent nations, and since the amount of animal-based food produced by the farming industry is much less than the amount of plant food put into it, there is a “diminished return on the investment,” the food supply dwindles, and humans end up going hungry.
The “diminished return on investment” scenario is further complicated when you consider the fact that cows (exploited for meat, dairy, and leather) as well as other grazing animals, were never biologically designed to eat the massive amounts of grain they are fed by the farming industry. They are ruminants, and evolved to eat grass.
However, because the demand for animal products is so high in today’s society, and because farmers want to produce the most product as quickly as possible, animals are fed massive amounts of grain, such as corn. In the age of factory farming, it takes only 18-24 months for a cow to grow to the desired weight and be killed. This is thanks to a steady diet of grains (which humans could be eating) and growth hormones.
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates poses the question, “If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbor follows a similar path, will we not have need to go to war against our neighbor to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbor will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason?”
It seems this question that was asked so many centuries ago is becoming more and more of a reality in the modern world, as many political and economic experts are predicting that future wars will be fought over food, water, land, and other valuable natural resources critical to human survival.
In order to ensure that every person on the planet has enough food to eat, and ultimately protect our own survival, humans must look deep within themselves and choose the path that is the most compassionate, healthy, and sustainable. That path is veganism.
Source: Excerpted from "Could Veganism End World Hunger?", by Michael Chatham, Sept. 1, 2014. Read full article at gentleworld.org »