Vegetarianism Staves Off Starvation
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Vegetarianism Staves Off Starvation

By Sabrina H. Sims, Biz.ed
December 2004

Incorporating a vegetarian diet into your lifestyle has the ability to increase your own personal health, and the power to simultaneously help create a more healthy world.

At this time, a huge portion of the world suffers from an extreme lack of food. Some estimates indicate that hunger plagues around 840 million people daily. This fact seems ludicrous, while something painless and very specific can be done to eliminate starvation entirely. Simply by incorporating a few more plant-based meals into our diet, we have the ability to save, sustain, and improve the quality of life -- our own, and that of our fellow beings on this planet who, at this moment, are suffering needlessly from an inability to obtain nourishment.

World population is now estimated to be in excess of 6 billion. The world’s carrying capacity is feared to be around 8 billion people. As the population grows, so grows the scarcity of food and the resources needed to produce it. It is estimated, according to Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C., that reducing American meat consumption by just 5 percent (the equivalent of one less meat dish per person per week) could save enough grain to feed 25 million people.

Clearly, in relative terms, only a small decrease in meat-eating is required to eliminate hunger. As of right now, though, 25 million people go hungry in the United States each day. Danielle Nierenberg, staff researcher at Worldwatch Institute says that "if we were all vegetarians, there would be a lot more room in the people : food equation."

It should and can be a basic human right to eat. According to John Robbins, a renowned author and spokesperson on sustainable environments, if Americans were to eat only 10 percent less meat, it would free enough land and resources to grow over twelve million tons of grain annually for human consumption, "more than enough to adequately feed every one of the 40 to 60 million human beings who will starve to death on the planet this year."

Nearly half of the grains from world harvests are fed to "livestock." According to Robbins, it takes sixteen times more resources to produce a pound of food from livestock than it does to produce a pound of food without raising animals as "livestock." It takes only one pound of grain to produce a pound of bread. In his book May All Be Fed, Mr. John Robbins wrote: "By cycling our grain through livestock and into beef, we end up with 6 percent as much food to feed human beings as we would have if we ate the grain directly."

World harvests of grains produce enough to meet minimum nutritional requirements for every man, woman and child in the world. In other words, once more people choose not to consume their nourishment through such a diluted process, starvation will be history. Cultivating animals as livestock is devastating on many levels. Just as pounds of nourishable foods become wasted through the process of filtering harvests through beef production, nutrients are filtered out from the process too.

Grain import needs continue to increase. "You might think this additional grain is required to feed growing human populations. But," reports John Robbins, "75% of Third World imports of corn, barley, sorghum, and oats are fed to animals, not to people." The Institute for Food and Development Policy reported that 40,000 children starve to death on this planet every day.

Multitudes of people are dying every day because of the popular belief in the statement that it is "normal to eat meat." Beef industries are able to support and continue their business largely due to subsidies provided by the United States government for meat, while many plant-based farmers lack access to land, water and credit to market their goods. Mass-producing animals to live in prisons their whole lives and subsequently murdering them, only to waste literally tons of resources and bury the remains in our bodies is NORMAL in society today. The detrimental process of animal consumption, ultimately creates disease and suffering.

Spreading of meat-borne diseases, such as "bovine spongiform encephalopathy" (BSE), otherwise known as mad cow disease, takes place from eating meat from animals that were fed "rendered protein" from other animals. The rendered protein, which is actually ground up cow and sheep carcasses, is believed to have triggered mad cow disease among cattle in the U.K. because it was force-fed to said animals. Even though feeding "rendered protein" to cows that will be slaughtered for meat is now considered illegal, it is still a potential problem that requires ongoing monitoring by the USDA. Cows, who are vegetarian animals by nature, animals who have lived peacefully off of grass forever, don't have the digestive system required to process meat in a healthy manner.

Diseases and suffering spread, not just among the animals who are directly subjects of the unhealthy and grossly unnatural processes briefly mentioned thus far, but, they also spread to people everywhere. People who consider these tortured animals to be their primary food source are more susceptible (to BSE for one thing), and people who are tortured (as a result of the previously mentioned wasted resources) because they are deprived of enough food, are susceptible.

Dr. Michael W. Fox, a Veterinarian and the Vice President of the Humane Society, adds that the average American consumes thousands of animals in their lifetime. In order to satisfy this meat consumption, "agribusiness has developed an immense slaughtering machine that causes great suffering to animals, creates long-term environmental disasters, endangers healthy food production and ultimately, threatens the economic independence of developing countries who support this growing American appetite."

Almost all third world countries must now import grain to feed the livestock industry. Aside from the vast quantities of food consumed by livestock, and in addition to it, there is also the water they drink- which is yet another vital resource that is currently in jeopardy.

The causes of hunger and poverty are numerous, complex and inter-related. The long-term poverty that millions of people face is largely caused and incensed by human decisions, practices and behaviors. Thus, hunger and poverty are likely subject to solutions through human action as well.

What we eat affects what the rest of the world can eat. Frances Moore Lappe, a pioneering vegetarian author of Diet For a Small Planet, pointed out that "thirty years ago, one-third of the world's grain was going to livestock; today it is closer to one-half." The increase in the developing countries' animal consumption rates are largely and, sadly, can be easily attributable to the poor example of Uncle Sam's diet. If we do not modify our diets, we will continue to perpetuate the problems caused by our diets.

There are severe consequences that are a direct result of the personal choices we make in our diets. It is known that vegetarian diets are associated with a lower risk of cancer, coronary artery disease, diabetes, breast cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and obesity. If each of us were to reduce or eliminate our meat consumption, we would also be helping to prevent our own premature demise. The diseases of excess that truly plague our culture are very much attributable to excess meat consumption. One of the most common reasons people are compelled to adopt a vegetarian diet is the desire to obtain a healthier lifestyle.

Among the highly educated and higher income groups, vegetarianism continues to grow. As Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D., and author of Being Vegetarian for Dummies says, "Whether you go vegetarian all of the way or part. . . you'll be on your way to a happier and healthier you."

If you are interested in restoring the world by modifying your diet, please go to www.vrg.org  or read any of the afore mentioned books. Many diverse and delicious meal recipes can be found in these resources, as well as other important information regarding the benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet.

We welcome your comments:

(d-6)

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