I recently saw a television documentary about food banks, which I expect you all have heard of by now, as they exist worldwide. These outlets are set up and run by charities to dole out free food to the most needy in society. The Hunger Project and the Trussel Trust are two of the said organisations who run the banks here in the UK.
Before the financial crisis of 2007 onwards, they were almost unknown here, but our so-called prosperous country has been so badly affected, like so much of the world, that now many people who enjoyed a reasonable standard of living are now having to rely on the food banks, just to get enough to eat for themselves and their families. Obviously this particularly applies to people with children. This article gives more details about food banks in the UK here.
On hearing about this latest socioeconomic phenomenon, it occurred to me, as it has before, that the only reason I have been able to survive these last few years of grinding recession is because I am vegan! I have not been in steady employment and finances have been really tight for me, as they have for so many, but I have always been able to eat adequately, I have certainly never gone hungry. I am convinced this is because I do not eat meat, dairy or eggs, and in lieu of those animal products many tasty, low-cost, filling meals can be made from a plant-based diet (and I do not waste food either; I hardly ever throw food away, and always try to use leftovers). I gather that meat prices in particular have gone up astronomically – I am really pleased about that, and hope it may have had the effect of making many people give up eating it! It does make me think, though, that probably the majority of people who are struggling just to eat may not need resources like food banks, if they were vegan. If their diet was mainly fruit, vegetables and grains, I am sure they would save a lot of money on food, and also save billions of animals, and help the planet.
It costs far less and uses far fewer of the world's resources (crops, water, land, etc.) to feed the population on a purely plant-based diet, than on an omnivorous one. This is because of how much a cow, for example needs to eat to stay alive, far more than a human. As you can see below:
1 pound of beef takes around 16 pounds of grain to produce.
16 pounds! You could feed around 20 people on grain with that amount.
Similarly, water is a very precious resource for developing countries, and animal farming uses a colossally wasteful amount of water:
1 serving of beef takes around 1,200 gallons of water ,1 serving of chicken takes around 380 gallons , 1 complete vegan meal takes 98 gallons.
Third World countries, such as the ones in Africa, where many people starve, export much of their grain so that the rich Western countries can eat meat and dairy. Shockingly, during the Ethiopian famine of 1984, whilst its own people starved, Ethiopia was growing linseed cake, cotton-seed cake and rapeseed oil for European livestock (Kind of makes the whole Live Aid phenomenon seem rather hypocritical and pointless, although it was so well-intentioned!)
So when people claim that they can't “afford” to go vegan, that eating meat, dairy and eggs is somehow cheaper and better for the world, that begs the question, if there is not enough food for humans, what are all the farmed animals eating???
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Picture courtesy of http://usahitman.com