Sunday, October 21, 2007

How big is your foodprint?

I found this interesting New York based study which state that a diet with a little meat uses LESS land than many vegetarian diets. Reading on, I thought that the news title was a misrepresentation of the study itself. The study says a person following a low-fat vegetarian diet will need less than half (0.44) an acre per person per year to produce their food while a high-fat diet with a lot of meat needs 2.11 acres. That's considerably less land used for vegetarians.

The report goes on to say that in terms of land use, a veg diet is less efficient than one with a little meat. The reason? Fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on high-quality cropland, while ruminant animals are supported by lower quality, but more widely available, land that can support pasture and hay. Thus, although vegetarian diets in New York state may require less land per person, they use more high-valued land. Meaning, while meat increases land-use requirements, diets including modest amounts of meat can feed more people than some higher fat vegetarian diets.

Can it really be so? Or is it only for New Yorkers? What if everyone in the whole world were to eat moderate amounts of meat, will all the pastures in the world be able to support this low-meat diet? I really doubt so. If the pastures were to be used intensively, there will be the problem of overgrazing and may well lead to desertification. Besides, I wondered if these pastures were created by logging to meet the demands of meat, if that's the case, wouldn't it be better to convert these pastures back to forests? And lastly, if every one were to go vegan, will there be a need to increase food amounts to feed everyone, could the land be more efficiently used in other ways such as produce renewable energy?

I am still very glad the researchers came up with this report which further bring to awareness the sustainablilty of a vegetarian diet.
News at this link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071008130203.htm

10 comments:

Jackie said...

Yes it was a silly study. For one thing if livestock were not eating 80% of grain produced that would feed the starving billions of the world.

There are hundreds of other factors disproving the study so very few took note of it even meat eaters....they are now more educated with the info out on Global Warming.

Edanator said...

Even if this article were correct, that would mean that the "little meat" group would have to live a life without apples and other "high value land"-crops, wouldn't it? Just meat and basic crops in their diets. No tomatoes, oranges, apples, bananas, etc etc. I wonder where they draw the line? Besides, how much apple do we vegans eat anyway?

Travegan said...

Hmm. This efficiency would indeed require changes in animal farming also, the animals would really have to be fed on hay etc (grown on this "lower quality" land) rather than grain. And you make a good point about overgrazing as well as other uses for the hay, like biofuels. As long as grains are fed to farm animals, even eating a little meat will always have a negative effect on land use, even if the particular animal would've been fed with hay, for some other meat-eater could've eaten that instead of a grain-fed animal.

bazu said...

That's funny, I just blogged about an article citing this study today! I don't think the research makes sense. For one thing, it assumes that all people consume local, grass-fed beef, and doesn't take the destruction of factory farms and long-distance shipping into consideration, as far as I can tell. For another thing, it's not just what plants the animals eat, it's what waste and gasses they put out into the environment. The land and water around factory farms in the U.S. (for hundreds of miles sometimes) gets horribly polluted. I also read that the lead researcher of this study would "weep at the thought of giving up burgers"- doesn't sound too impartial to me!

adam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Veggie Bun said...

Who funded this study? It might be the meat industry funding this.

Edanator said...

"This post has been removed by the blog administrator."

This always makes me so curious... Spam?

adam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edanator said...

He he! I think it was spam about the abs diet that was removed before. Time to warm up that removal finger again, Rujoon. ;-)

dreamy said...

hahaha ... yea Eda, it's the same one. Sorry adam, related comments only...

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