What's Life Like For the More Than 1 Billion in the World Who Are Hungry? One Woman Decided to Find Out for Herself
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Editor's Note: On March 20, Kenda Swartz Pepper began "21 Days for World Hunger," an experiment to try for 21 days to live like the over 1 billion people around the world who are hungry. Below is her first post, you can scroll to the end for the links to her most recent posts along the way.
1.02 billion people in the world go hungry every day according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. That’s 1,020,000,000 people. I was tempted to round down and write 1 billion people in the world go hungry every day. It dawned on me that I would be doing a monumental disservice to .02 billion people. That’s 20,000,000 people. Children. Mothers. Fathers. 20,000,000. Slightly more than the entire population of Florida. Ignoring that number would be like disregarding the entire state of Florida. In some ways, it’s easier for me to focus on the 20,000,000 instead of the total 1.02 billion, because I cannot even conjure a picture in my head of 1.02 billion people. I have no point of reference.
According to the World POPClock Projection, as of 18:44 UTC today the total population of the World is projected to be 6,809,695,155. The number yesterday about this time was projected to be 6,809,529,520. Is it possible the population increased by 165,635 people in one day?
And if these numbers are accurate with 1.02 billion people not having enough to eat, is it possible that 15% of the world population is living in hunger? And if that percentage is accurate, how have we allowed ourselves to arrive at this global catastrophe?
Today, March 20, 2010, I am launching my second Souljourn: 21 days for World Hunger. Today is also Meat Out Day, so it seems apropos at this time to begin this Souljourn mostly because the majority of the world’s hungry eat primarily vegetarian fare.
According to Dixie Mahy, President of the San Francisco Vegetarian Society,
MEAT OUT DAY is an excellent way to highlight the relationship between meat and world hunger. Since there is so much waste of the world’s resources in producing meat as opposed to raising plant foods, there is an obvious correlation between feeding more people on a ‘plant based diet’ than on a ‘meat based diet.’
Regarding reduction of world hunger, Mahy added,
It takes approximately 20 pounds of vegetable protein for every pound of beef; other animals require less vegetable protein per pound of animal protein but they are still utilizing plant protein that humans can eat directly and more efficiently.
These days most cattle are not gazing on grasses that humans don’t eat; they are fed grains, corn, and soy beans. Much of this vegetable protein could be given directly to humans.
Then there is the water issue. It takes anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water for each pound of beef. It definitely would make a difference to save water. With the increasing population and world wide droughts, we have less water available for our crops let alone for the wasteful meat production.
To satisfy our country’s appetite for meat, we import over 200 million pounds of beef from Central and South America alone. Every second per day, one football field of tropical rain-forest is destroyed for livestock. This would not be necessary if we utilized our crops to directly feed humans rather than indirectly through animals.
There are other undesirable repercussions from animal husbandry including disposing the waste products from raising animals, especially factory farming. Many of our diseases come from farm animals even though they are often found on plants, e-coli and salmonella for example. Then there is the issue of fossil fuels that everyone is concerned about. It takes 1.2 gallons of oil to make the fertilizer used for each bushel of corn. Before a cow is slaughtered, it will eat 25 pounds of corn a day; by the time it is slaughtered, it will weigh more than 1,200 pounds. In its lifetime, it will have consumed, in effect, 284 gallons of oil. In addition to the corn fertilizer, there is additional fossil fuel used in farming the corn and then transporting the corn to feedlots. Add to that the fossil fuel used to transport the cattle to slaughterhouses, to meat packing facilities, and then to grocery stores. The money saved on fuel by not raising cattle could go to paying for transporting food to people in need anywhere in the world.