We hear all the time that going vegan helps fight world hunger, but what if I told you that may not be true?
The argument seems logical. If 36% of calories from farming go to livestock, ending the animal genocide would make those calories available for the hungry.
But to end world hunger with a vegan diet isn’t as plausible as we assume. Here are three reasons why the mainstream belief that going vegan can end world hunger isn’t a valid argument.
Excess crops are grown specifically for livestock
All 36% of the calories that go to livestock have been grown specifically for livestock. If factory farming ended, so would the demand for alfalfa, corn, soy, and other crops grown in excess for animal consumption.
You may be thinking, But what about all the vegans that will need to be fed in a vegan world? Wouldn’t there be an even greater demand?
Possibly. I doubt the new vegan world would want crops from chemically treated Monsanto soil, but even if we cleaned up the land and were able to plant organically, it would be used to produce crops for paying vegans–not hungry people.
We waste a lot of food
40% of all food produced in the US is thrown away. Tomatoes that aren’t aesthetically pleasing are trashed right off the vine. Food retailers who habitually overorder toss the (perfectly fine) older products when a new shipment arrives. And how many times have we thrown away food? Our half-eaten sandwiches and overripe fruit make consumers the biggest contributors to food waste.
But I don’t waste food. I don’t even eat most of the things on that chart.
I’m not blaming vegans for food waste; I’m encouraging vegans to stop blaming the farm industry for it’s assumed role in world hunger when consumerism is the much larger issue.
We’d do much better at fighting world hunger by collecting “damaged” produce, overstocked groceries, and discarded consumer goods than we would donating crops intended for livestock feed.
Food shortage isn’t the issue
People don’t go hungry from a shortage of food. People go hungry because they don’t have access to the abundance of food and/or can’t afford the food they have access to. So even if that 36% of food that once went to livestock became available for people in need, the next major hurdle would be getting that food to people in need and selling it at an affordable rate.
These aren’t issues veganism can solve. As we learned from the earlier point, there’s already an abundance of excess crops that go to waste every day, and since they aren’t given to hungry families, who’s to say this 36% will?
You may argue that a vegan government would be more compassionate and find a way to make it work. That lovely thought is up for debate considering not all vegans care about people.
Some vegans are self-described misanthropes like Gary Y. who make their hate for humans very plain. Some are disturbed individuals like Vegan Gains who videotape the death of their family members to show the harms of eating meat (video intentionally not linked). Some are racist, sexist white males like Vegan Revolution with an unfortunately large audience.
I understand these are isolated cases and are not representative of the average vegan, but the thoughts and ideas from these three men reach hundreds of thousands of people. The more attention veganism receives, the more attention these guys get, and in a society that values opinionated males, the likelihood that they will end up in a leadership position is absolutely possible and issues of human hunger may get overlooked.
But YouTube stars aren’t what we’ll have to worry about in a vegan society. The majority of the “vegan” leaders of our vegan future will be capitalists jumping on another opportunity to make a dollar. They’ll have no care for animal welfare (let alone human welfare) and will look at veganism as another buying trend.
With leaders like this, I highly doubt the first phases of the vegan utopia we dream about will take the hungry into consideration.
By no means are these observations meant to diminish the other areas where going vegan makes a tremendous impact. The positive effects of veganism on animal welfare, global warming, and human health are undeniable, we just miss the mark believing veganism can end world hunger.
With this new understanding, I hope we develop more effective strategies to end world hunger. Our lifestyle alone may not create the kind of change we hoped, so if you aren’t already, apply the same compassion you reserve for other species to humans in need.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to your local food pantry, give money to the many relief NGOs, and be mindful of your own wastefulness. Our community has used hungry people to push our agenda for years. Now that our argument has lost some validity, I hope we still recognize the importance of hunger and commit a percentage of our activism to helping people in need.