Taking Animals off the Menu Could Solve Water Crisis

Photo Credit: Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

Every year the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) hosts World Water Week to focus on the world’s water issues. This year’s theme is Water and Food Security. To start off the conference, researcher Malik Falenmark and his colleagues from SIWI released a study that warns meat consumption is currently draining the world’s water supplies at an alarming rate.

“There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations,” Malik Falkenmark said. Diets that rely on animal products consume 5 to 10 times more water than a vegetarian or vegan diet.

This also comes at a time when, according to reports, Oxfam and the United Nations prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years. Prices for corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% on international markets because of severe droughts in the U.S. and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. Oxfam has forecast the price spike will have a devastating impact in developing countries that rely heavily on food imports.

Currently, nearly a billion people worldwide suffer every year from chronic hunger, while 24,000 people per day or 8.8 million per year die from hunger or related causes. And while people are dying of starvation, nearly half of the world’s grains and soybeans are fed to animals, resulting in a huge waste of food calories.

The world’s leading water scientists are correct to fear severe water shortages may dramatically impact how the world eats in the future. Excessive food waste, drought and overconsumption are all to blame for water shortages, and they are only expected to increase worldwide in the years to come. Fortunately, switching to a vegan diet today will allow us to begin tackling complex problems such as water shortages, global poverty, poor personal health, animal suffering and environmental degradation.

For more information on transitioning to a plant-based diet, please visit LiveVegan.org

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