The Plant-Based Alternative to Hunger

Far too much of the meat we have is generated under questionable ecological, ethical, and societal conditions. And now our industrial model for meat production will be exported to the global south

Far too much of the meat we have is generated under questionable ecological, ethical, and societal conditions. And now our industrial model for meat production will be exported to the global south – especially India and China – where meat consumption is rising among these states’ emerging middle classes.

Each year, 300 million tons of meat, world-Wide are produced, as well as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the yearly amount increases by 2050 to 455 million short tons if demand continues to grow in the present rate. Such substantial amounts of meat can be created only on an industrial scale, and at high social, political, and ecological costs.

Meat production is an extremely inefficient use of agricultural land, because substantially more plant-based food is needed to feed livestock than we'd need to feed ourselves straight via a plant-based diet. As an example, making one kilogram of chicken meat, pork, or beef demands 1.6, three, and eight kilograms of animal feed, respectively. This matches farmers and animal feed companies against one another in a ruthless competition over land.

This growth of soy agriculture, as a result of the growing interest in meat, is driving up land worth.

Animal feed creation, and reducing biodiversity and the intensive cultivation of agricultural property that it needs, isn't only destroying ecosystems; it is also fueling climate change. That share, our industrial agriculture system generates an estimated 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions; including emissions and the ones connected with fertilizer production, improves . Furthermore, the extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers – 99% of the world’s soy is genetically modified, and is normally treated with pesticides – can also be contaminating groundwater sources, destroying biodiversity, and eroding the soil.

We can no longer discount the external costs of this system. If we're intent on addressing climate change and procuring every human being’s right to proper nutrition and food security, we have to challenge the assumption that the industrial agricultural model is necessary to feed the planet.

In fact, that assumption has little merit. The UN Environment Programme estimates that, by 2050, an area involving the size of Brazil and India will have to be repurposed into cropland if present food consumption trends continue.

For lots of people, the competition for land is a fight for survival. Land access, which is more unevenly distributed than incomes, is 20% of households that experience hunger do not own land: a determining element in whether someone suffers from malnutrition, and 50% of people that experience hunger are small-scale farmers.

The industrial agriculture system’s creation chains has to be replaced with decentralized, local, and sustainable production chains. It's incumbent upon governments to prioritize private economic interests are ’sed right to food and nourishment above by people. People should not lose their livelihoods and food security for the benefit of agribusiness profits.

As it stands now, large-scale industrial meat producers are profiting commonly from EU subsidies; but these subsidies might be redirected as investments in decentralized meat and grain production chains that adhere to some model that is more sustainable.

Doing this necessitates recognizing that realistic alternatives to industrial agriculture do exist. As an example, “agroecology” – a system based on indigenous and traditional knowledge that is passed down through the generations – is readily adaptable to all geographical circumstances. Actually, in 2006 Jules Pretty of the University of Essex found that crop outputs can be increased by this mode of production by 79%.

But, to implement this shift, governments need to ensure that all people have guaranteed access to land and potable water, and they need to generate political frameworks to encourage ecologically and socially just agricultural models – which, by definition, excludes industrial agriculture.

The challenge of feeding every human being shouldn't be viewed in opposition or as ruling out – questions of social justice and also the future of the planet. Malnutrition poverty, and hunger are due to politics, not scarcity.