National Geographic ran a feature recently presenting a five-step plan for meeting the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. This is not a piece that explicitly advocates veganism, but step four of the plan involves “shifting to less meat-intensive diets” and the numbers make it pretty clear why this matters for global food security: 

“It would be far easier to feed nine billion people by 2050 if more of the crops we grew ended up in human stomachs. Today only 55 percent of the world’s crop calories feed people directly; the rest are fed to livestock (about 36 percent) or turned into biofuels and industrial products (roughly 9 percent).”

The inefficiency of growing plants to feed to animals instead of eating the plants ourselves is staggering:

“Only a fraction of the calories in feed given to livestock make their way into the meat and milk that we consume. For every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork, or 3 of beef.”

A vegan (or mostly vegan) diet simply makes much, much more efficient use of the calories we grow as crops than feeding those crops to livestock.

You can read the full feature here.


How our crops are used

Only 55 percent of food-crop calories directly nourish people. Meat, dairy, and eggs from animals raised on feed supply another 4 percent.

Agriculture’s footprint
FOOD                                                                                                         FEED & FUEL
100% AREA                                             50%                                                         100%