Here’s some food for thought: if America were to become the United States of Veganism, food poverty would be wiped out in the world’s richest country. That’s because raising food crops rather than livestock could double food production – not to mention slash greenhouse gas emissions and create a healthier and more secure food system
According to a new report, cutting meat and animal products from the nation’s diet would not only allow America to feed all of the people living within its borders, but to feed them twice.
The study, by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, says becoming vegan would allow the US to feed the 327 million people who live there, including the 41 million who report having gone hungry at some point over the year. But astonishingly, it would also create enough food to feed another 350 million people – a whole new America, or five United Kingdoms.
If the thought of America or the UK going fully meat free seems a bit of a stretch, consider how the popularity of veganism has rocketed in recent years, as people become more aware of the effect industrial livestock farming is having on the environment, their health and the welfare of animals. About 7 per cent of Britons, roughly 3.5 million people, now identify as vegan, according to recent research by comparethemarket.com, up from 540,000 in 2016 – among them Arsenal footballer Jack Wilshere. Meanwhile, more Americans are buying meat free products than ever before.
The study into a vegan America, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and based on data on what Americans ate and how they farmed between 2000 and 2010, looked at how much US soil is given over to raising animals to create food for humans, and then worked out how much food Americans could create if they cut out the middle-cow – and simply grew food to eat themselves. The mathematics prove the point: the researchers found that a piece of land that could produce 100 g of plant-based protein would be capable of producing far less animal-based protein – the same plot used for laying hens, chickens to eat, dairy products, pork and beef would respectively produce only 60 g, 50 g, 25 g and 4 g of protein.
Ron Milo, the author of the study, found that if Americans ditched meat, dairy, and eggs in favour of a “nutritionally equivalent combination of potatoes, peanuts, soybeans and other plants, the total amount of food available to be eaten [in the US] would increase by 120 per cent”.