Food Shortages May Force World Population To Go Vegetarian

Drought Swimming HoleCould this be a conspiracy against freedom-loving, red meat-eating Americans? I have a feeling there will be those in certain quarters who claim just that. John Vidal reports for 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.

Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world’s leading water scientists.

“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,” the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.

“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.”

Dire warnings of water scarcity limiting food production come as Oxfam and the UN prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years. Prices for staples such as corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% on international markets since June, triggered by severe droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. More than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages across the Sahel.

Oxfam has forecast that the price spike will have a devastating impact in developing countries that rely heavily on food imports, including parts of Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East. Food shortages in 2008 led to civil unrest in 28 countries.

Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world’s arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. Other options to feed people include eliminating waste and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit…

[continues in The Guardian]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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35 Comments on "Food Shortages May Force World Population To Go Vegetarian"

  1. That’s silly, soylent green isn’t vegetarian. 

  2. “Food Shortages May Force World Population To Go Vegetarian”

    …or develop tasty new recipes for Long Pig.

  3. TennesseeCyberian | Aug 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm |

    Pure dystopia. Body-builders will shrivel.  Fast food chains will serve fried tofu.  Grills will rust in overgrown backyards. The beasts of the wild will run amok.

    Even worse, the entire world will look to vegetarians for salvation.  Vegans will rise up to rule the world with snide self-satisfaction and international conflict will be marked by passive-aggressive snark.

  4. This is silly.  I’m sure most Americans will kill the last animal on Earth before going vegetarian.

  5. Famine used to be quite common before oil became fertilizer.
    After oil became fertilizer, the population increased by 30%
    proportionate to the increase in food yield.

    Once oil goes away,
    even with a switch to vegetarian food
    at least 30% of the world’s population goes bye bye.
    Starting with those who don’t know how to grow food.

  6. Soylent Green | Aug 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm |

    Fuck that shit… I’ll eat you before you spread that shit.

    Burger King rules! 

  7. This assumes that the primary method of producing animal protein will continue to be the inefficient cattle-based methods of today and that these methods will be continued until they no longer can be. In 20 years, I see beef as a luxury item.

    •  In Ten Years, I see you as delicious as I’ve eaten your Grand Dad; Eric.

      Not as tasty as what You have…

  8. Anomaly_of_Anomie | Aug 26, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

    Fuck that- the world doesn’t need more people, there are too many already.

    Carnivores shall prevail. 

  9. charlieprimero | Aug 27, 2012 at 12:34 am |

    World population is decreasing.

  10. Eileenohel8145 | Aug 27, 2012 at 2:07 am |

    Now everyone want to make a vegetarian due to food shortage .

  11. ioksototeaterofsouls | Aug 27, 2012 at 2:37 am |

    two things:
    1) Much of meat production uses grazing that occurs on land surface that is unsuitable for farming of other kinds. Feeding cattle corn is a recent thing.
    2) The assumption here is that the better offs can be persuaded to go without meat for the sake of the starving masses. History shows they cannot. The Great God MARKET will ensure beef steaks and ribs for those that can pay for it no matter how many starve. 

  12. Robyn Wright | Aug 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm |

    Face it !!! we are Omvivores and we eat both Meat and Veges !! face the facts guys .

  13. Wtf will it take to address rampant baby makers!  The numbers are in, future seems dire but nah let’s wait for shit to hit the fan, we don’t want to tamper with your retarded Gods and your divine right to breed like a rabbit, and it better be a boy!

  14. Ljwhitestar | Aug 29, 2012 at 9:44 am |

    Well I would like like to ask “who are these experts…what are their names, what qualifications do they have to make such statements”…where are the other experts in this field? What have they go to say??…as we can clearly see by this scare mongering article, and of course along with oxfam, and we can’t forget about the united nations…..we all know what their Agenda!! Is in all of this….I mean forgodsake we have plenty of land on this planet and water resources, if these so called experts, would spend less time trying to scare everyone, and more time using their brains to find proper solutions to these age old dilemma’s, then maybe we might have an article worth reading…..

  15. The problem is providing non-animal proteins – such as soya or mushrooms – to the worlds population in sufficient quantities. There’s a reason why, in a pre-industrial state of nature, humans get their proteins from animal sources even though pulses were also cultivated.

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