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Go Vegan in Response to Overpopulation

Even if you argue that shifting to a plant-based diet, a vegan diet, isn't enough to stave off overpopulation, in light of the data showing the depletion of energy, food, fresh water, land space, raw materials and resources as well as the heavy contribution to air and water pollution, deforestization, and global warming caused by a meat-centered diet, how do you -- worried about "overpopulation" consuming the world's resources -- justify consuming meat?!

Shifting to a plant-based diet literally makes a world of difference! It takes sixteen pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. 
Ronald J. Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, in his 1977 book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, pointed out that 220 million Americans were eating enough food (largely because of the high consumption of grain-fed livestock) to feed over one billion people in the poorer countries.
Oxfam estimates that in Mexico, 80 percent of the children in rural areas are undernourished, yet the livestock are fed more grain than the human population eats! The livestock are exported of course, to satisfy the developed nations' craving for cheap hamburgers.
In his book, The Hungry Planet, Georg Bergstrom points out that protein-starved underdeveloped nations export more protein to wealthy nations than they receive. He calls this "the protein swindle." 
Ninety percent of the world's fish meal catch, for example, is exported to rich countries. One-third of Africa's peanut crop winds up in the stomachs of European livestock. Half the world's cereal crop is fed to livestock and the United States annually imports one million tons of vegetable protein from Third World nations--just to feed its farm animals.
Bergstrom writes: "Sometimes one wonders how many Americans and Western Europeans have grasped the fact that quite a few of their beef steaks, quarts of milk, dozens of eggs, and hundreds of broilers are the result, not of their agriculture, but of the approximately two million metric tons of protein, mostly of high quality, which astute Western businessmen channel away from the needy and hungry."
Vegan author John Robbins writes in his 1987 Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America:
"Half the world's population does not receive an adequate amount of food to eat. Ten to twenty million die annually of hunger and its effects. The Institute for Food and Development Policy reports that, 'Forty thousand children starve to death on this planet every day,' or one child every two seconds.
"The livestock population of the United States today consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed over five times the entire human population of the country. We feed these animals over 80% of the corn we grow, and over 95% of the oats. Less than half the harvested agricultural acreage in the United States is used to grow food for people. Most of it is used to grow livestock feed.
"The world's cattle alone, not to mention pigs and chickens, consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people. It takes sixteen pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. According to Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, if used to grow cattlefeed, can produce less than 165 pounds of beef."
In the 2006 edition of The Higher Taste: A Guide to Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking and a Karma-Free Diet, we read:
Food expert Frances Moore Lappe, author of the 1971 bestseller Diet for a Small Planet, once said in a television interview that we should look at a piece of steak as if it were a Cadillac.  "What I mean," she explained, "is that we in America are hooked on gas-guzzling automobiles because of the illusion of cheap petroleum.  Likewise, we got hooked on a grain-fed, meat-centered diet because of the illusion of cheap grain."
The process of using grain to produce meat is incredibly wasteful:  the USDA's Economic Research Service shows that we receive only one pound of beef for each sixteen pounds of grain.  In his book Proteins:  Their Chemistry and Politics, Dr. Aaron Altschul notes that in terms of calorie units per acre, a diet of grains, vegetables, and beans will support twenty times as many people than a meat-centered diet.  
As it stands now, about half of the harvested acreage in America and in a number of European, African, and Asian countries is used to feed animals.  If the earth's arable land were used primarily for the production of vegetarian foods, the planet could easily support a human population of twenty billion or larger.
Points and facts such as these have led food experts to point out that the world hunger problem is largely illusory.  The Global Hunger Alliance writes:  "Most hunger deaths are due to chronic malnutrition caused by inequitable distribution and inefficient use of existing food resources.  At the same time, wasteful agricultural practices, such as the intensive livestock operations known as factory farming, are rapidly polluting and depleting the natural resources upon which all life depends.  Trying to produce more foods by these methods would lead only to more water pollution, soil degradation, and, ultimately, more hunger."
A report submitted to the United Nations World Food Conference concurs:  "The overconsumption of meat by the rich means hunger for the poor.  This wasteful agriculture must be changed--by the suppression of feedlots where beef are fattened on grains, and even a massive reduction of beef cattle."
Pound for pound, many vegetarian foods are better sources of protein than meat.  A 100-gram portion of lentils yields twenty-five grams of protein, while a hundred grams of soybeans yields thirty-four grams of protein.  
But although meat provides less protein, it costs more. A spot check of supermarkets in Florida in August 2005 showed sirloin steak costing $7.87 a pound, while staple ingredients for delicious vegetarian meals averaged less than $1.50 a pound. 
Becoming a vegetarian could potentially save an individual shopper at least several hundred dollars each year, thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime.  The savings to consumers as a whole would amount to billions of dollars annually.  Considering all this, it's hard to see how anyone could afford not to become a vegetarian. 
"If you could feel or see the suffering, you wouldn't think twice.  Give back life. Don't eat meat." - actress Kim Basinger
Vegan author John Robbins similarly writes in his 1987 Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America:
"The livestock population of the United States today consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed over five times the entire human population of the country. We feed these animals over 80% of the corn we grow, and over 95% of the oats... Less than half the harvested agricultural acreage in the United States is used to grow food for people. Most of it is used to grow livestock feed...
"The developing nations are copying us. They associate meat-eating with the economic status of the developed nations, and strive to emulate it. The tiny minority who can afford meat in those countries eats it, even while many of their people go to bed hungry at night, and mothers watch their children starve...
"To supply one person with a meat habit food for a year requires three-and-a-quarter acres. To supply one lacto-ovo-vegetarian requires only one-half of an acre. To supply one pure vegetarian (vegan) requires only one-sixth of an acre. In other words, a given acreage can feed twenty times as many people eating a pure vegetarian (vegan) diet-style as it could people eating the standard American diet-style...
"In a world in which a child dies of starvation every two seconds, an agricultural system designed to feed our meat habit is a blasphemy. Yet it continues, because we continue to support it. Those who profit from this system do not need us to condone what they are doing. The only support they need from us is our money. As long as enough people continue to purchase their products they will have the resources to fight reforms, pump millions of dollars of 'educational' propaganda into our schools, and defend themselves against medical and ethical truths.
"A rapidly growing number of Americans are withdrawing support from this insane system by refusing to consume meat. For them, this new direction in diet-style is a way of joining hands with others and saying we will not support a system which wastes such vast amounts of food while people in this world do not have enough to eat."
Raising animals for food, even raising animals for animal by-products like milk and eggs, means wasting valuable acreage, because the animals have to be fed plant food! If we eat lower on the food chain, fewer resources are required to feed everyone, which means less agricultural acreage, etc., which means fewer rodents and insects are killed when fields are ploughed for farming, etc.
If you carry this argument to its logical conclusion, a vegan diet is the least violent, because it requires one-third less acreage than a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, and twenty times less acreage than a meat-centered diet.
Jeremy Rifkin, author of a dozen influential books and President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, writes in his 1992 bestseller Beyond Beef:
"Cattle and other livestock are devouring much of the grain produced on the planet. It need be emphasized that this is a new phenomenon, unlike anything ever experienced before.
"Contrary to popular belief, the poor are getting poorer each year... Increased poverty has meant increased malnutrition. On the African continent, nearly one in every four human beings is malnourished. In Latin America, nearly one out of every seven people goes to bed hungry each night. In Asia and the Pacific, 28 percent of the people border on starvation, experiencing the gnawing pain of a perpetual hunger."
"In the Near East, one in ten people is underfed. Chronic hunger now affects upwards of 1.3 billion people, according to the world Health Organization -- a statistic all the more striking in a world where one third of all the grain produced is being fed to cattle and other livestock. Never before in human history has such a large percentage of our species -- nearly 25 percent -- been malnourished.
"The transition of world agriculture from food grain to feed grains represents an... evil whose consequences may be far greater and longer lasting than any past examples of violence inflicted by men against their fellow human beings."
Vegan author John Robbins writes in his 1992 bestseller, May All Be Fed:
"The Worldwatch Institute has released a remarkable report entitled Taking Stock: Animal Farming and the Environment, which lists nation after nation where food deprivation has followed the switch from a grain-based diet to a meat-based one.
"Most of the nations importing grain from the United States were once self-sufficient in grain. The main reason they aren't is the rise in meat production and consumption...
"In country after country the pattern is repeated. Livestock industries are consuming feed to such an extent that now almost all Third World nations must import grain. Seventy-five percent of Third World imports of corn, barley, sorghum, and oats are fed to animals, not to people. In country after country, the demand for meat among the rich is squeezing out staple production for the poor..."
"Many of us believe that hunger exists because there's not enough food to go around," writes vegan author John Robbins in his Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America. "But as Frances Moore Lappe and her anti-hunger organization Food First! have shown, the real cause of hunger is a scarcity of justice, not a scarcity of food."
In a 2011 article entitled Ending Animal Agriculture: The Real Solution to the Food Crisis, Mac McDaniel writes:
"It will never cease to amaze me how people are so dedicated to the idea of eating animals. We're looking at a global food crisis by 2050 and... we're trying to George Lucas our way out of it with prototypes, science fiction, and undeveloped technology.
"With any discussion of food shortages, the 800 lb. gorilla in the room is animal agriculture. (Nearly 75) percent of all agriculture land is used to raise livestock, and a third of land used for growing crops is used for growing feed for livestock. You simply can't talk about increasing food supplies without talking about eliminating animal agriculture...
"It doesn't take a scientist to see the common sense that feeding plants to animals, and then eating the animals, is a horribly inefficient way to produce food...
"That means between 75% and 90% of the gross weight of the food in the scenario is being completely wasted...
"The only solution to the global food crisis is the end of animal agriculture. Freeing up that much farmland would not only increase food supplies by incalculable amounts -- which would inevitably all but end hunger in the third world -- it would benefit the health of everyone in the western world. And at the same time, it would finally end... the bloodiest and most violent era in human existence."
Barbara Parham writes in her 1979 paperback, What's Wrong With Eating Meat?:
"According to Buckminster Fuller, there are enough resources at present to feed, clothe, house and educate every human being on the planet at American middle class standards. The Institute for Food and Development Policy has shown that there is no country in the world in which the people cannot feed themselves from their own resources.
"Moreover, there is no correlation between land density and hunger. China has twice as many people per cultivated acre as India, yet less of a hunger problem. Bangladesh has just one-half the people per cultivated acre that Taiwan has, yet Taiwan has no starvation, while Bangladesh has one of the highest rates in the world. The most densely populated countries in the world today are not India and Bangladesh, but Holland and Japan."
* * * *
I agree, humans do more than consume food: we need not only food, but clothing, shelter, supporting technology, etc... But animal agriculture consumes fossil fuel energy, fresh water, land space, raw materials at an alarming rate, and contributes heavily to air and water pollution, deforestization, and global warming. (See below):
Vegan author John Robbins provides these points and facts in his Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987): 
Half the water consumed in the U.S. irrigates land growing feed and fodder for livestock. Huge amounts of water wash away their excrement. U.S. livestock produce twenty times as much excrement as the entire human population, creating sewage which is ten to several hundred times as concentrated as raw domestic sewage. 
Animal wastes cause thrice as much water pollution than does the U.S. human population; the meat industry causes thrice as much harmful organic water pollution than the rest of the nation's industries combined.
Meat producers, the number one industrial polluters in our nation, contribute to half the water pollution in the United States. 
Vegan author John Robbins writes:
The water that goes into a 1,000 lb. steer could float a destroyer. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, but 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat. If these costs weren't subsidized by the American taxpayers, the cheapest hamburger meat would be $35 per pound!
Subsidizing the California meat industry costs taxpayers $24 billion annually. Livestock producers are California's biggest consumers of water. 
Every tax dollar the state doles out to livestock producers costs taxpayers over seven dollars in lost wages, higher living costs and reduced business income. Seventeen western states have enough water supplies to support economies and populations twice as large as the present.
According to vegan author John Robbins:
Overgrazing of cattle leads to topsoil erosion, turning once-arable land into desert. We lose four million acres of topsoil each year and 85 percent of this loss is directly caused by raising livestock. 
To replace the soil we've lost, we're chopping down our forests. Since 1967, the rate of deforestation in the U.S. has been one acre every five seconds. For each acre cleared in urbanization, seven are cleared for grazing or growing livestock feed.
One-third of all raw materials in the U.S. are consumed by the livestock industry and it takes thrice as much fossil fuel energy to produce meat than it does to produce plant foods. 
A report on the energy crisis in Scientific American warned: "The trends in meat consumption and energy consumption are on a collision course."
Mother and daughter, Jennifer Horsman and Jaime Flowers, write in their 2007 book, Please Don't Eat the Animals:
Meat production causes deforestation, which then contributes to global warming. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and the destruction of forests around the globe to make room for grazing cattle furthers the greenhouse effect. 
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations reports that the annual rate of tropical deforestation has increased from nine million hectares in 1980 to 16.8 million hectares in 1990, and unfortunately, this destruction has accelerated since then. By 1994, a staggering 200 million hectares of rainforest had been destroyed in South America just for cattle. 
"The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways, and sub-division developments combined." - Philip Fradkin, in Audubon, National Audubon Society, New York
Agricultural meat production generates air pollution.  As manure decomposes, it releases over four hundred volatile organic compounds, many of which are extremely harmful to human health.  Nitrogen, a major by-product of animal wastes, changes to ammonia as it escapes into the air, and this is a major source of acid rain.  Worldwide, livestock produce over thirty million tons of ammonia.  Hydrogen sulfide, another chemical released from animal waste, can cause irreversible neurological damage, even at low levels.
Livestock production affects a startling 70 to 85 percent of the land area of the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union.  That includes the public and private rangeland used for grazing, as well as the land used to produce the crops that feed the animals. 
By comparison, urbanization only affects three percent of the United States land area, slightly larger for the European Union and the United Kingdom.  Meat production consumes the world's land resources.
Half of all fresh water worldwide is used for thirsty livestock.  Producing eight ounces of beef requires an unimaginable 25,000 liters of water, or the water necessary for one pound of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.
The Worldwatch Institute estimates one pound of steak from a steer raised in a feedlot costs:  five pounds of grain, a whopping 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about 34 pounds of topsoil.
Thirty-three percent of our nation's raw materials and fossil fuels go into livestock destined for slaughter.  In a vegan economy, only two percent of our resources will go to the production of food.
"It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second- and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the overpopulation of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat."
--Jeremy Rifkin, pro-life AND pro-animal author, Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, and president of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation
From PETA Asia:
"Would you ever open your refrigerator, pull out sixteen plates of pasta, toss fifteen in the trash, and then eat just one plate of food? How about level five square meters of rain forest for a single meal? That sounds ludicrous, right? But if you're eating chickens, fish, pigs, cows, eggs, or dairy products, that's what you're doing: wasting resources and destroying our environment.
"According to the United Nations, raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and land used to grow feed crops) now uses a staggering 30 percent of the Earth's land mass. A vegan diet requires 1,100 liters of water per day to produce, while a meat-based diet requires more than 15,000 liters per day. That means that it takes the equivalent of 50 bathtubs of water to produce just one steak.
"And we haven't even gotten into the staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions that are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute!
"But we do have some good news: Science shows that going vegan is one of the most effective ways to fight climate change as well as one of the most powerful steps that you can take to make your life greener and healthier. It alleviates pressure on the world's precious resources, helps tackle climate change and world hunger, and radically decreases your own risk of developing life-threatening diseases. And don't forget that it saves the lives of animals, too!
"So in honor of Earth Day, please take the vegan pledge to save the Earth."
Oakland Veg, promoting a plant-based diet in Oakland, CA, sent out the following email on Earth Day:
"There are lots of ways to help the environment, but the easiest (and most delicious) is to choose Chipotle's sofritas instead of pork carnitas, a veggie burger instead of a cow burger, or rich coconut milk for your coffee instead of cow’s milk. Here’s how you’ll be helping with by choosing chips and guacamole instead of chicken wings:
"Animal agriculture is responsible for fifteen percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and is recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as one of the 'top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.'
"Pasture expansion for farm animals is a key driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America. Worldwide, more land is used to raise and feed farm animals than for any other purpose. More than 97 percent of soymeal and 60 percent of the barley and corn produced globally are fed to farm animals.
"According to the Sierra Club, if Americans reduced meat consumption by just 20 percent, it’d have the same environmental benefit as everyone switching from a standard sedan to a hybrid vehicle.
"So enjoy your Earth Day dinner tonight, and…THANK YOU. Thanks for caring and thanks for doing something positive!"
Some find it easier to be vegan on certain days of the week as a way to transition to being completely vegan.  Sir Paul McCartney has endorsed a "Meatless Mondays" campaign.  In 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors signed a VegDay Resolution encouraging a plant-based diet on Mondays.  They point out that if everyone in San Francisco went veg one day per week, it would save 37,000,000 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions.  That is the equivalent of taking 123,822 cars off the streets of San Francisco!
According to the Sierra Club, if Americans reduced meat consumption by just twenty percent, it would have the same environmental benefit as everyone switching from a standard sedan to a hybrid vehicle.
Les Brown of the Overseas Development Council similarly calculates that if Americans reduced their meat consumption by only ten percent per year, it would free at least twelve million tons of grain for human consumption -- or *enough* to feed sixty million people.
Even if you argue that shifting to a plant-based diet, a vegan diet, isn't enough to stave off overpopulation, in light of the data showing the depletion of energy, food, fresh water, land space, raw materials and resources as well as the heavy contribution to air and water pollution, deforestization, and global warming caused by a meat-centered diet, how do you -- worried about "overpopulation" consuming the world's resources -- justify consuming meat?!

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