Why is there Hunger on the Planet?

Animal farming uses 30 per cent of the Earth's entire land surface for grazing and to grow crops as feed (FAO 2006). In Britain, 70 per cent of all agricultural land is used as pasture and to grow crops to feed animals (FAO, 2004). Research has shown that if Britain went vegan, less than a quarter of the current farmland would be needed. (Spedding 1990).

Livestock farming also causes wide-scale land degradation, with about 20 per cent of global pasture land considered degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion (FAO 2006). This figure is even higher in the dry-lands where inappropriate policies and inadequate livestock management contribute to advancing desertification (FAO 2006). Animal farming also plays a destructive role in deforestation. In Latin America, some 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing (FAO 2006).

Soya production for animal feed is another major cause of deforestation. Around 75 per cent of global production is fed to farmed animals (Worldwatch Institute 2006). It is the demand for meat that drives the production of soya and, therefore, the destruction of the rainforest. Going vegan saves one acre of forest every year (Robbins 1992).

'Those who consume livestock products and fish are competing directly with those who need grain for food.' Lester Brown, past president of the Worldwatch Institute, USA.

Almost half of the world's food harvest is fed to farmed animals and almost all of those calories go into simply keeping the animals alive. Only a small fraction of the calories consumed by farmed animals are actually converted into meat. An acre of cereal can produce five times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production; and legumes (beans, lentils and peas) can produce ten times as much (Seager 1995). Rather than adding to our capacity to feed the world's human population, putting animal products at the centre of food policy diminishes the possibility of doing so.

If we are to feed a growing human population, he only choice is to rely upon a plant-based diet.

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