A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Friday, March 07, 2008

On Food and Hunger

This Lenten season, I have come to appreciate hunger. I feel it more often and more constantly. It affects my moods and my productivity. I recognize every impulse to grab a snack and realize how lucky I am. It has made me particularly sensitive to the plight of the impoverished, here and abroad, and though I can not shed my privileged status--for I will always have the option of grabbing a snack or charging a quick meal--I can focus some of my energies to enable and empower others.

I have been attempting to maintain vegetarian eating for months now with success for the most part. There is a lot of explaining that comes with the territory. Why would you do that? Humans need to eat meat! That's just a fad. Are you sure you know what you doing, it's easy to get swept up.

There is no need to apologize for not eating meat. To quote a recent New York Times article:

Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University.
Many vegetarians have thought-out, well-reasoned rationale for making their decisions. And they often have little to do with fad-diets or touchy-feely notions of animal humanity, they have to do with the hard facts of science and the very real consequences of our actions.


Anonymous said...

Brian said:

"about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption,"

I see 2 problems with this statement.

1) it assumes (but isn't clear) that the quality of all this grain used to feed livestock is also fit for human consumption. I suspect it isn't.

2) Meat is eaten for protein not calories. They are not the same thing.

Brian said...

I see where you're coming from but most people have well more than enough protein in their diet and thus much the meat eaten contributes purely to calories (as unused protein is converted to glucose and/or fat). In fact, many people (in North America) have TOO much protein in their diet.

It is entirely possible to consume adequate amounts of protein on a vegetarian diet.

And while the caliber of grain may or may not be the same as that for human consumption, it could be.

Brian said...

Also, regarding protein, from American Dietetic Association: Food and Nutrition Professionals Can Implement Practices to Conserve Natural Resources and Support Ecological Sustainability Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2007;107(6):1033-1043

"Food choices have a significant effect on the quantity of land needed for food production. In a comparison of environmental impacts of different protein choices, researchers found that meat protein required more land to produce than vegetable protein by a factor ranging from 6 to 17."

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