Photo taken during my 2009 trip to Cambodia
Friday Thoughts: The World Food Crisis
By now, most people are aware that there is a global food security crisis. After a 2-year period of decline in food prices following the 2007-2008 spike, food prices are once again on the rise. As usual, it is the poor who are feeling the worst effects of the rising food prices, and it is the poor in the poorest countries who are being hit the hardest. What I want to know is, can eating vegan reduce world hunger?
While the food crisis can't be attributed to a single cause (analysts have called it a "perfect storm" of factors) there is one factor I feel I can have a direct - albiet small - affect on, and that is by eating less meat.
According to the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute, the gradual change in diet among newly prosperous populations is the most important factor underpinning the rise in global food prices. As people move out of poverty and into the middle class, generally they begin to incorporate more meat into their diet.
Raising meat is an extremely inefficient process. One kilogram of beef requires seven kilograms of feed grain. By reducing my meat intake, its not as if these grains would become immediately available to starving families across the world. It does however, allow for the gradual relocation of grains from animals to humans. Further, less demand from the livestock industry will conceivably lower grain prices.
I have no idea how much my not eating meat will affect food prices. Probably very little. But at least its something, and it always feels better to do something than nothing :)
If you want to do something, visit the World Food Programme's website. WFP is an amazing organization helping out a lot of hungry people around the world. Read up on their work, spread the word, or donate! http://www.wfp.org/