Global meat consumption will have to decrease drastically by 2050, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Water Institute. The changing climate is decreasing the available global water supply. This is causing droughts, which are leading to high price for agricultural commodities needed to raise livestock. Prices of corn and wheat rose by 50% in just the last 2 months!
What you need to know:
A pound of animal protein (beef, pork) requires 10 times more water than a pound of vegetarian protein (lentils, beans). If you take into account global population growth and an increased hunger for meat in developing nations, we’re headed for a catastrophe. The world today consumes 20% of its protein from animal sources. That number may need to go down to 5% in the next few decades. This would mean little or no meat consumption, and barely any dairy or eggs to boot. For more fascinating stats, download the report [PDF].
It’s scary for us to think of a day when we wont have cheap meat and dairy products waiting for us at the supermarket. But for a majority of the world, this is their reality. Ask most people living in India or China what they eat every day.
If free market economics were to come into play, the gradual price increases would naturally cause people to cut back on meat consumption. Imagine a pound of sirloin beef at Shoprite for $40 in 2037, instead of today’s price of $6.99. Imagine paying $20 a pound for boneless chicken breasts (instead of $1.99 per pound)…
Can we somehow reverse this worrying trend? Maybe improve agricultural output so that we can continue to feast on steak and potatoes? Some biotech companies think that their patented, drought resistant, genetically modified crops are the answer. To date, we haven’t seen any evidence to this effect. And long term safety concerns have not been settled either.
So what to do? Old habits die hard, and if you’ve been eating meat all your life, the though thought of giving it up is frightening. It certainly is for me! Meat is just so tasty.
But we should definitely begin to appreciate more vegetarian options at home and at restaurants. “Meatless Monday” can be an easy first step in learning to eat, prepare, and enjoy plant based meals.
While 2050 seems a long way off, the writing is on the wall. Make sure your palate is prepared…