Meat-eating causes Starvation

Under the updated Food Safety and Standards Act, animals that are allowed to be slaughtered and their flesh eaten in India as listed under the Compendium Food Additives Regulations 29.03.2019, are:

2.5.1. Definition:
(a) “animal” means an animal belonging to any of the species specified below:

(i) Ovines [Sheep]
(ii) Caprines [Goats]
(iii)  Suillines [Pigs]
(iv) Bovines [Cattle]
(v) Domestic Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

and includes

  Poultry [Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Geese, Guinea Fowl, Japanese Quail and their Eggs]


  Fish [Finfish: Sardine and other Clupeoids, Tuna and Bonito, Mackerel, Seer Fish, Pomfret. Crustacean: Shrimp/Prawn, Crab. Molluscs: Mussels, Squid. Fish Eggs: Sturgeon Caviar.]

Born to be Killed

Not bio-fuel, but animals raised for meat are the main reason for the growing shortage of food in the world. One-third of the annual global food production is used for feeding animals specially bred and fattened to be killed for their flesh. If the crops fed to them were to be consumed by humans, there would be no shortage.

In May 2011 the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) meat index climbed to an all-time high, led by record beef and sheep prices and higher poultry and pig-meat costs, contributing to inflationary pressures and driving millions of people into hunger. Over and above which prices for staple foods, including corn, continued to rise. And, according to the International Grains Council stocks of grains are going on falling.

There is no doubt that the world is on the verge of a global food crisis. Economists are questioning how
fair it is to use land to grow corn, etc. for the production of bio-fuel when people increasingly don't have enough to eat. Fuel is, but a lesser reason for this deep-rooted problem.

Feeding Animals – to Feed Humans

The main reason for the growing shortage of food needs to be tackled: animals specially bred and fattened to be killed for meat. If the crops fed to them were to be consumed by humans, there would be no shortage of food. As much as one-third of the approximately 2000 million tons of annual global food production is used for feeding these animals for their flesh. The feed-to-meat ratio varies depending upon species (poultry, pigs, cattle, sheep & goats) and whether produced in a developed or developing country, but on an average 4 kilograms of feed yields only 1 kilogram of meat.

Feed   produces   Meat (a second hand food)
1.5 kilograms   1 kilogram Fish
2 kilograms   1 kilogram Chicken
3 kilograms   1 kilogram Pork
4-6 kilograms  

1 kilogram Mutton/Lamb

5-20 kilograms   1 kilogram Beef

(Cows need five times as
much feed to produce
1 kilogram of Meat,
than to produce 1 litre of Milk.)

There is no doubt that meat is a second hand food. If humans ate grain direct rather than feeding it to animals and then eating their flesh there would be enough food for everyone everywhere.

Heavy Environmental Toll

The FAO has stated that the world's livestock production is 18% more responsible for global warming than all transport emissions. It causes wide-scale land degradation, uses large quantities of the earth's increasingly scarce water resources, pollutes land, water and air, and is responsible for excessive use of energy, all of which are downright harmful to our environment.

It has been repeatedly emphasised that if environmentalists want to really fix the climate they must give up eating meat, but it is hardly happening. Ironically, the “organic” cattle they eat (to salve their consciences) produce even more methane than the others.

The 2013 UN FAO report entitled “The Food Wastage Footprint” stated that a third of the world’s food is wasted, making it the third-biggest carbon emitter. Every year around 1.3 billion tonnes of food, worth about $750 billion, equivalent to 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (carbon footprint) is globally wasted. The wastage was due poor storage resulting in grain spoiling, and because consumers threw away what they did not feel like eating. India is responsible for both: how often we hear of rotting or rat-infested grain being unfit for human consumption, and almost every one (from all sections of society) wastes food on their plates. In 2014 the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries declared that 18% of the annual crop of fruits and vegetables valued at Rs 13,300 crore gets wasted. Together with grains the wastage stands at Rs 44,000.

The 2017 Global Hunger Index ranked India at 100 among the 119 developing countries. However the mortality rate of children under-5 years improved. And, although the undernourished population went down, child stunting and wasting, both indicating malnutrition, were high. India continued to account for the world’s largest population of undernourished people with about one in every five being undernourished.

A study the International Food Policy Research Institute that analysed and spatially mapped data from the NFHS (National Family Health Survey) 2015-16 on India’s high childhood stunting prevalence of 38.4% concluded that only focusing on health and nutrition related factors under the existing ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) scheme wasn’t enough – there was a need to address gender related inequalities that concerned female education, nutrition, age at marriage, care during and after pregnancy, as well as the overall socio-economic status.

Environmentalists are not the only ones who are showing deep concern. Emerging markets' central banks and governments are no longer ignoring rising food prices coupled with low stocks of rice and wheat (inflation and hoarding) and protests of shortages resulting in social tensions. They know that converting land produce to meat is an expensive business, the direct effect of which is a steep rise in grain prices which hits the poor most.

In June 2015 Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change stated “If present tends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations, debris, desolation and filth. The idea of unlimited growth, so attractive to economists, is based on a lie that leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. Current economics will not solve environmental problems and problems of global hunger and poverty will not be resolved by market growth. All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good.”

Too Poor to Buy

An additional significant reason for hunger is that indirectly governments ensure that a section of their people remain far too poor to be able to buy enough food. Yet, grain that is available is sold to those who can afford it. India ranks third in agricultural production which grew at 3% during the last 30 years and contributed towards 7% of the world’s produce, yet it doesn’t make it to the top 10 as exporter of agri-produce.

For example, while India’s poultry industry purchases large quantities of maize and soy to feed chickens, despite bumper crops, wheat and potatoes are routinely reported to be seen rotting out in the open (due to lack of granaries) having become unfit for human consumption. Grains, that could have as well been given away totally free, and not only to those who the government has ridiculously labelled as poor because they earn up to a mere Rs 32 per day.

No Meat, No Hunger

2014 statistics are alarming: although the number of hungry people in the world has fallen sharply over the past decade, 805 million still do not have enough to eat, while grain fed to livestock is enough to feed nearly 2 billion people. No wonder the progress in meeting the millennium development goal to halve the prevalence of hunger in the world by 2015 is unlikely. By 2013 the UN declared that 12% of the world’s population were suffering from chronic hunger. In 2016 it was estimated that 1 of 10 persons worldwide, and 2 of 10 in India went to sleep on an empty stomach.

The FAO has forecast that food production will need to climb by 70% between 2010 and 2050 as the world population expands to 9 billion and rising incomes boost meat and dairy consumption.

If those living in developed countries do not stop eating meat, and if those of developing countries (who are liable to start eating meat when their incomes rise) include it as part of their diet, they will positively be hastening mass starvation of fellow humans on this planet.

Meanwhile, the consumption of meat in America is falling. (Luxembourg consumes the most.) Around 2007 America’s meat consumption began to dive by 12.2%. Since then the country breeds and butchers several hundred million less animals. The CME Group’s (one of the world’s largest derivatives exchanges and owner of the Dow Jones Index) analysis points to increased feed costs as the driver of this trend and state: “Add in the efforts of a large number of non-governmental agencies that oppose meat consumption for reasons ranging from the environment to animal rights to social justice and one could conclude that it was amazing that consumption held up as long as it did.” As much as we would like it to be so, the numbers aren’t being driven by new vegetarians and vegans but the trend is in the right direction: a 2011 US poll found the number of vegetarians remained at about 5%, but 16% ate vegetarian food more than half time – a so-called “flexitarian” diet – and this was drastically bringing down meat consumption.

In 2014 experts who undertook a UN commissioned study feared that if the Middle East drought continued there would be a severe food crisis by 2017. Wouldn’t it therefore be wise to stop raising animals for slaughter?

Beauty Without Cruelty feels that each and every one can easily help solve world hunger... by NOT eating meat, a second-hand food. And the good news is that it has been forecast that Indians will consume 50% more fruits and vegetables by 2030!

Page last updated on 18/08/20