It is pretty astounding to think that by 2050 that a predicted nine billion people will call Earth home.
When you contemplate your own life, the amount of food, water, and energy it takes just to keep yourself and your loved ones functioning on a daily basis and then times it by nine billion you can start to get your head around what a huge issue issue food security will be in the future.
Imagine having to grocery shop for nine billion people!
In fact, some studies predict we may not be able to provide the water to sustain a 9 billion strong population. A scary thought! Going without water and the water that is required to produce food will result in the malnutrition and death of many. At present many of us consume far more meat than necessary. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a maximum of 455g of lean meat per week, while here in Australia we currently consume an average of 304g per day.
An excess consumption of meat not only has implications for your health (cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, OH MY) it also uses vast amounts of water and grain that could be used to sustain human life and environmental flows. Not only does meat and dairy consumption have implications for your health, it also affects the health of the planet. To produce meat and dairy land is cleared, the loss of trees releases carbon into the atmosphere and without trees to purify the air the carbon accumulates and contributes to climate change effects, which in turn results in a decrease in our capacity to grow food. Also, cows fart and burp, so too do most animals. Each time they ‘pass gas’ (from either end) it releases methane into the atmosphere that, like carbon, is a contributor to the warming of the planet. Like us cattle eat, drink and walk around, here in Australia cattle play a huge part in altering environmental flows. Their hard hooves change degrade our soils and riverbanks and make it difficult to sustain our natural environmental landscape flows. Creating yet another environmental issue that will reduce our capacity to feed ourselves and our 9+ billion friends in the future.
Meat hungry countries like Australia and America have set a trend for developing nations and with increase in GPD per capita there is an increase in meat and dairy consumption. If we are to continue to consume these products at the rates we currently do, one of the suggested ways forward is an increase in factory farming and a focus on technological advances. While these may be more sustainable ways forward they definitely aren’t ethical ones (see The Truth about Meat’ for a disturbing look inside the stomach of a seemingly oblivious real life cow to understand the implications of technological advances in the meat industry).
Fish is another source of protein that is in a dire situation as a result of our hunger. Many of the worlds major fishing areas have reached their limits. This means that what we are fishing now, will not be replenished in the future and no matter how hard those little fishes work to replenish their populations, we fish them faster than they can reproduce. In fact, we actually feed much of our marine catches to our livestock!
Seems like a world gone mad doesn’t it!
Anyways after all that doom and gloom here comes an easy fix you can all get involved in and it will likely save you money.
Eat less meat and dairy.
A solution that appears too good to be true but it really is that easy. To eat less meat you don’t have to label yourself Vegetarian, Vegan or otherwise. You really just have to have more plant protein based meals and less animal protein ones. Set yourself the challenge for Meat Free Week (yes, I am a day late in letting you know, I was ironically held up writing an assignment about food security).
I don’t often talk about food on the blog as it is a topic that divides many when it comes to environment. But I personally choose to eat less meat, with a mainly meat and dairy free diet. The exception being fish if we catch it and it is a sustainable species and hard cheese on occasions (fortunately for me my stomach can’t handle most dairy or eggs). I avoid labelling myself as any specific ‘diet’ as my decision to eat less meat was an environmental decision not a political one and I don’t like to put myself in a ‘box’.
The best thing you can do is research the issues for yourself. Although much of my research for uni studies, work and this blog, is based on academic literature you really can’t beat a documentary for ‘learning in a hurry’ without all the boring verbiage. The list below includes a bunch of my favourite documentaries (I am a BBC addict they provide very balanced arguments) on the matter of food security and meat consumption.
- BBC- The Future Of Food Part 1
- BBC- The Future Of Food Part 2
- BBC- The Future Of Food Part 3
- BBC- The Truth About Meat – this is documentary that made me ‘quit meat’ and I can’t find a copy for you, sorry.
- BBC- Blood, Sweat, and Takeaways – hard to hunt down but an amazing series if you can get it.
What are your thoughts on Meat Free Week? Please feel free to share your meat free experiences in the comments section. Recipes, documentary and reference suggestions are all very welcome!
PS. The (dodgy i-phone) lunch time picture above depicts a totally different kind of ‘food security’ than the type I have been researching for my assignment. He he he.