What you choose to eat affects more people than you think. It is estimated that 40 thousand people are dying each day from starvation. This is not how it’s supposed to be, and we all know this in our hearts. Animal agriculture is a major culprit in the world hunger crisis.
The Worldwatch Institute reports, “In a world where one in every six people goes hungry every day, the politics of meat consumption are increasingly heated, since meat production is an inefficient use of grain – the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grains to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat eaters and the poor.”
Dr. Walden Bello, executive director for the Institute for Food and Development Policy notes, “Every time you eat a hamburger you are having a relationship with thousands of people you never met. Not just people at the supermarket or fast food restaurant, but possibly World Bank officials in Washington, D.C., and peasants from Central and South America. And many of these people are hungry. The fact is that there is enough food in the world for everyone. But tragically, much of the world’s food and land resources are tied up in producing beef and other livestock – food for the well-off – while millions of children and adults suffer from malnutrition and starvation.
“In Central America,” Dr. Bello says, “staple corn crop production has been replaced by cattle ranching, which now occupies two-thirds of the arable land. The World Bank encouraged this switch-over with an eye toward expanding U.S. fast food and frozen-dinner markets. The resulting expansion of cattle ranching has deprived peasants of access to the land they depend on for growing food. And because of ranchings’ limited ability to create jobs (cattle ranching creates thirteen times fewer jobs per acre than coffee production), rural hunger has soared. What does this all have to do with our hamburgers? The American fast-food diet and the meat-eating habits of the wealthy around the world support a world food system that diverts food resources from the hungry.”
While America has its obesity crisis, millions of mothers cannot feed their starving children. Where is the balance? If we wish to call our world a place of love, we must begin our journey into a non-violent vegan lifestyle.
But how you ask? How do I begin? It’s easier than you think to begin this journey towards peace. Here are four helpful suggestions:
- Pick up a vegan cookbook – There are plenty of good ones to choose from. New recipes will help you break out of bad habits and introduce you to some tasty and healthy choices.
- Shop locally – Your local farmers market is the perfect place to get fresh (and often organic) food. It’s grown in your community so you aren’t supporting the detrimental “world food system” or polluting the environment shipping it in.
- Eat consciously for 30 days – At each meal ask yourself, “Where did this meal come from? Did anyone suffer for me to have it?” Think about your actions and choices for 30 days and see how much better you will feel.
- Find like-minded people – We all need support when trying new things. Find a vegan group in your town or search the web. There are plenty of informative sites like www.vegsource.com and www.veganoutreach.org.
We can together, bring balance to this injustice. Each one of us can have an impact – setting an example for our children and their children, and leaving our world a better place for them.