The More People Eat Meat, the More People go Hungry

by Vlarivière on September 24, 2015 - 9:16pm

This article from the Guardian serves a slightly different purpose than to alarm us of the obvious lack of resources available to feed the Earth’s population. Surely, it does that quite explicitly already in the title “Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits” however, it mostly concentrates on the price of said resources, how the growing prices make the available food unattainable for the poor.

The Guardian presents the staggering food price increase of 40% around the world and the numerous reasons behind it. Certainly, the population growth is a major cause, but it is especially the emergence of a middle class in populous countries such as India and China that makes it an issue. This new class can afford certain luxuries and the first of them is the possibility to eat higher up the food chain, but before arriving in a plate, the meat also had to be fed. Feeding the cattle requires a great portion of the cultivated grain and the transport must be included in the equation, in the United States, the need for biofuels takes up to a third of the maize crop. By choosing to consume more meat, those in the higher classes unconsciously condemn the lowest classes to malnutrition and even starvation explains Julian Borger. The number of persons in need is inevitably growing whereas The World Food Program (WFP) capacity to feed them decreases because of the food price inflation. It is alarming since they are barely able to feed ten percent of the malnourished which approaches the billion. Other causes would be the climate change which provokes fluctuation in the quantity of food produced and the growing need for biofuels briefly mentioned earlier which price is almost continuously rising. By itself, the cost of transportation represents 65 percent of the WFP budget.

This article seems to be accusing China’s and India’s population for their new prosperity which is the principal cause of food price increases. It does seem unfair to blame them for them food consummation while in Canada, United States and most of Europe it has been the case for decades. They might be responsible for raising the number of persons eating meat on a daily basis, but we (Canada, United States and Europe) surely did not do anything to lower it. Are movements such as Meat Free Monday too demanding for us, because it is so much easier to blame India and China for a problem we are all responsible for? As of today, it still looks too great a challenge and the number of hungry persons continues to go up.

Borger, Julian. “Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits.” The Guardian. N.p., 26 February 2008. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.


Hi Vlariviere, that was great post and I thoroughly enjoyed the read! I've been a vegetarian since I was 10 and my main reason for doing so is sustainability so this post really hit home. I found you had very clear explanations and I loved that you considered an alternative perspective that did not simply follow the articles logic on blaming the middle class of those developing nations.
I think a really good way to expand upon your piece is if you consider the incentive or policies that could be applied to developed countries such as Canada to get people to reconsider their level of meat consumption. A really neat link, the one referenced below, elaborates upon the possible consequences and solutions of global meat production. It goes on to explain that a major solution would be for consumers to pay the price that represents real cost associated with production and ecological abuse. Though calculating the true cost of production is increasingly difficult with industrialization- as you have to take into account all of the resources used plus the environmental impacts of rearing that meat (which is dependent upon location)- it seems to be worth while to explore. I believe this has the potential to be a real solution as it works with the markets and provides consumers with a reason to consider their consumption (incentive).
There is also the possibility other solutions would be just as beneficial. It could simply be an issue of education, or maybe countries need to adopt policies that provide incentives for land conservation and water efficiency. What do you think? When writing the post did you consider any other strategies that could reduce developed nations meat consumption? Which one would you think would be the most effective?
Thanks again for the great read!