Lack of Food Leads the World to a Plant-based Diet

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Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) has published alarming study entitled "Feeding a Thirsty World: Challenges and Opportunities for a Water and Food Secure Future", authored by Anders Jaegerskorg and Torkil Joench Klausen. The study warns that, due to the growth of world population and increasing drought, mass production of meat will become impossible.

In the most serious warning so far, leading hydrologists emphasized that in the next 40 years inhabitants of the Earth may have to become vegetarian if they want to avoid catastrophic food shortages and feed two billion new people expected by 2050.

Scientists gave the warning on the eve of the annual World Water Conference in Stockholm Sweden, where 2,500 politicians, representatives of NGOs and UN agencies, and scientists from 120 countries discussed global water issues.

"Nine hundred million people are hungry and another two billion are malnourished despite the fact that food production per capita is growing," the report said.

About 70 percent of the water available on Earth is used in agriculture. Scientists warn that if current trends and ways of eating in the Western countries continue, by 2050, when nine billion people are expected to inhabit the Earth, pressure on the already vulnerable water resources and arable land will increase, and there will not be sufficient water for food production.

Overeating, malnutrition and waste are on the rise in the world. The problem is that the whole world is increasingly adopting the eating habits of the West: approximately 3,000 kilocalories per day, of which at least 20 percent comes from meat. The SIWI study points out that there will not be enough water in the world to provide nearly enough meat to feed nine billion people, even if the food is fairly distributed among all people.

Another problem is global warming. It is expected that the Earth will become two degrees warmer, which will result in severe droughts. On top of that, researchers from Stockholm calculated that humanity already consumes resources at such a rate that by 2050 three Earths will be required to meet the needs for basic raw materials.

One of the options for a sustainable system is vegetarian nutrition because meat production uses five to ten times more water than producing plant foods. A third of the world's arable land is currently used for growing grain to feed livestock.

Also, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Bioversity International have published a book Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity in which they call for the promotion of sustainable food and food biodiversity in order to improve the health of people and the planet. It is stated that the current diet is not sustainable because over 900 million people in the world are starving, around 1.5 billion people are overweight or obese, and about two billion people suffer from a lack of certain vitamins and minerals. In addition to the provision of enough food for a growing number of people on Earth, problems are the loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems, as well as the increasing carbon and water imprint because of transport and the lack of nutrients in food. The book argues that modern diets and food production play a significant role in reducing plant and animal genetic diversity, while the World Conservation Union says that 17,291 species are threatened with extinction.

Furthermore, in a report which was published in October 2012 in Hyderabad, India, and put together by twelve experts in food security, regret is expressed because "one-third of food produced for human consumption" is lost or wasted, which is "almost 1,3 billion tonnes per year".

The study was published in Hyderabad, which hosted the UN Conference on Biological Diversity on the occasion of the World Food Day (October 16). The repor's main purpose is to warn about overexploitation and unsustainable use of water. The authors recommend "sustainable consumption of food" directed towards "food that require less resources." "This means that consumers in developed countries should reduce the share of meat and dairy products in their diet, and increase proportionally consumption of fruit and vegetables", the report concludes.

The report reminds that it generally takes more water and agricultural land to produce meat than cereal and fruit. "According to one study, 6 to 15 cubic meters of water are needed to produce a kilo of meat (poultry, lamb and seed-fed beef), while a kilo of grain or citrus fruits requires 3 to 4 cubic meters."

Information from the text are published in 2012 on: (SIWI entire study in English)

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