If American-type countries would reduce their meat consumption by just 10%, enough grain would be saved to feed 60 million people. This figure is close enough to the number of people that die from hunger-related diseases each year. It would also free enough land and resources to grow over 12 million tons of grain annually – enough to feed all those who died of starvation. This happens while millions agonize over one diet after another. Changing patterns takes one step at a time by one person at a time, but no one wants to go first.
Worldwatch states that 75% of the Third World imports of corn, barley, sorghum, and oats are fed to animals and not people. “In country after country, the demand for meat among the rich is squeezing out staple production for the poor.” The demand for meat among the rich takes precedence over grain production for the poor since “cash” crops come first. Two-thirds of the grain exported from North America goes to feed livestock which then filters back to only feeding the ones who can afford that type of food.
Everyday, enough grain is fed to animals to provide two loaves of bread to every human being on earth.
In the US alone, the daily consumption per capita is 102 grams of protein, most of which is of animal origin. Americans alone consume about 2.6 billion pounds of dairy cow meat annually. The USDA confirms that roughly two-thirds of all cattle slaughtered are from spent dairy stock.
Twenty-five years ago, livestock consumed only 6% of Mexico’s grain. Today, that figure is more than 50%. The same trend can be seen in South America, North Africa, and the Middle East. The demand for beef is more lucrative, and farmers succumb. While a typical acre of land in Latin America can easily produce over 1200 pounds of grain every year, that same land is used to graze cattle and barely yields fifty pounds of edible food.
In the US, 230 pounds of animals are consumed by each man, woman, and child per year, while in India animal consumption is less than 5 pounds per person. Forty-one million metric tons (2200 pounds per metric ton) of plant protein is fed to animals in order to produce 7 million metric tons of animal protein.
According to the World Bank, the number of people unable to meet their basic subsistence needs has reached 1.1 billion, with 14 million children dying every year from hunger and related causes. All the while, large quantities of grain and dairy products continue to be stockpiled in the US, Canada, and the European Economic Union.
A quote from R. Dumont: “The rich white man, with his overconsumption of meat and his lack of generosity for poor people, behaves like a veritable cannibal – an indirect cannibal. By consuming meat, which wastes the grain that could have saved them, last year we ate the children of the Sahel, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. And we continue to eat them this year with undiminished appetite.”
There is some hope. Single-cell protein, obtained from yeast, bacteria, and algae, has been used as a staple since the time of the Aztecs, whose warriers carried it as part of their rations. Mexico still exports over 700 tons of algae to Japan each year. The potential for single-cell protein as a main source for man and animals is enormous. It has been estimated that a single-cell fermenter (such as from baking, brewing, and distilling industries), covering one-third square mile could yield enough protein to supply 10% of the world’s needs. A 1000-pound steer will produce one pound of protein per day. 1000 pounds of single-cell organisms could produce up to fifty tons of protein per day. Quantities eaten of the two, however, are not comparable. Not so much of the single-cell organism needs to be consumed in order to meet the body’s requirements for complete protein – another plus.