Global News: Could Food Shortages Force the World to Go Vegetarian – photo by Parker Michael Knight
The world may have to change its eating habits according to scientists who say food shortages force the world to go vegetarian in order to conserve water.
According to the Guardian, leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages. While the human population receives 20 percent of their protein from animal based products, the scientists warn that that number may need to drop all the way down to 5 percent in order to to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050.
In a report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute, Falkenmark stated, “There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations. There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade.”
The food shortage situation can already be seen in many parts of the world today, as more than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages across the Sahel and corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% on international markets since June due to the severe droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia.
Those at Oxfam say that the prices will continue to rise as the food deficit spreads. Moreover, they also say that the continuously rising prices will have a major impact on developing countries who rely heavily on food imports like Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The scientists claim that having a world wide vegetarian diet could increase the amount of water available to grow more food as animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. The report states, “Nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase. With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land.”
The UN predicts that food production will need to increase by 70% by mid-century, making many worry about the pressure that will be placed on the already limiting water supply Earth provides. Moreover, other scientists and environmentalists worry that the ongoing pressure already placed on Earth’s natural resources will have dire consequences if the pattern continues.
Global News: Could Food Shortages Force the World to Go Vegetarian?