The Human Population is Expanding Fast
- By 2050, the earth will have 9.1 billion people–almost 20 percent more than the 7.6 billion people who live here today.1
- About 6.4 billion people will be urban compared to 3.7 billion today.
- City dwellers have larger incomes and eat more meat on average.
- Our current food system uses over 30% of all ice-free land, 70% of all fresh water and 20% of all energy.2
- To feed this larger, wealthier, urban population, food production needs to increase by 70% through 2050.
- There are currently 55 billion livestock consuming food grown on nearly ¾ of the arable land.
- There is simply not enough land to feed 9 billion the current diet.
Shifting Toward a More Plant-Based Diet
- Beef protein requires about 100 times more water than the same amount of plant protein.3
- 1 acre of farmland is enough to produce 9 kg of protein from beef and 161 kg of protein from soy.
- Soy contains 35-40% protein and includes all essential amino acids. However, 75% of soy is fed to livestock.2
Pollution from Plants
Even as we strive for a more sustainable plant-based diet, crop production still requires a nitrogen source. This is most commonly provided through nitrogen fertilizer, which requires tremendous energy, and as a pollutant, is considered among the top three threats to global biodiversity. More sustainable farming methods like crop rotation will need to be explored.4
- How to Feed the World in 2050. www.FAO.org.
- The Hidden World of Soy. World Wildlife Foundation.
- Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment. Pimentel and Pimentel 2003
- Aiking, Harry. Future Protein Supply. Institute for Environmental Studies, 2011.
8. Kaldy, M.S. Econ Bot 1972. 26: 142. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02860775