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Report: Water Scarcity Necessitates Near Vegetarian Diet

By 2050 there will not be enough water in the world to continue the global trends of a Western-style, high animal protein diet. Rather, a primarily vegetarian diet is necessary to address growing water insecurity, according to a report released to coincide with the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm from August 26-31.
From Food Security: Overcoming Water Scarcity Realities:
From Food Security: Overcoming Water Scarcity Realities:

By 2050 there will not be enough water in the world to continue the global trends of a Western-style, high animal protein diet. Rather, a primarily vegetarian diet is necessary to address growing water insecurity, according to a report released to coincide with the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm from August 26-31.

A bacon cheeseburger -- not on the menu in 2050. (photo: urban.houstonian / Flickr)
In part of the report, Food Security: Overcoming Water Scarcity Realities, Malin Falkenmark, Senior Scientific Advisor to the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), writes that almost half the world population will be living in chronic water shortage, and that sustainable water consumption means eating a diet with no more than 5% of calories coming from animal protein:

"[T]here will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in Western nations (3,000 kcal produced per capita, including 20 per cent of calories produced coming from animal proteins). There will, however, be just enough water, if the proportion of animal based foods is limited to 5 per cent of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a well organised and reliable system of food trade."
Describing a revealing exhibition at the Stockholm conference on the water-heavy resource of animals raised for food production, Thalif Deen writes in Inter Press Service, "[T]he production of an average hamburger - two slices of bread, beef, tomato, lettuce, onions and cheese - consumes about 2,389 litres of water, compared to 140 litres for a cup of coffee and 135 for a single egg."

"An average meal of rice, beef and vegetables requires about 4,230 litres of water while a chunky, succulent beef steak, a staple among the rich in the world's industrial countries, consumes one of the largest quantum of water: about 7,000 litres," writes Deen.

The analysis also foresees a future with "virtual water trade" and competition over increasingly scarce water resources.

I would beg to differ 28.Aug.2012 12:31

someone interested in ecology

I think there is some confusion about the difference between industrial agriculture and eating meat. The two are not the same.

The prairies of North America supported approximately 60,000,000 bison before industrial agriculture. These animals used only water that fell out of the sky, grass that grew naturally from the ground and their activities resulted in carbon being sequestered in the soil.

Industrial agriculture, whether it is for feeding animals to be eaten or just feeding animals (humans), requires massive amounts of water, much more than falls from the sky, it depletes the soil requiring massive inputs of petroleum based fertilized and petroleum based herbicides/pesticides, and it releases soil carbon into the atmosphere.

The type of diet is not as important as how the food was produced.

Conscience Scarcity 28.Aug.2012 21:26

Honey Addict Going (more) Vegan (again)

Machines slitting the throats of helpless animals seems somewhat merciful when considering that their lifetimes consisted of continuous suffering in unconscionable conditions and would otherwise continue that way. We obviously are comparing apples to oranges when setting industrial animal exploitation up against predatory techniques (also with the assistance of artifice) to end the life of animals whom were always free and would otherwise continue to be. Unarguably, the extremity of mercilessness is lesser in the latter. Albeit, the absence of absolute necessity voids justifiability in both examples.

The classic Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, wrote that to kill is as immoral as it is unnecessary. Adding to that, as we see there are innumerable health complications from consuming cholesterol (only animal sources) and we have no predatory adaptations indicating that we are meant to catch-kill-consume raw meat, why go against nature? Eating animals is inessential in ecosystems of abundance and in the mastery of societal artifice, both. Hence, we are present our (im)moral choice.

Although I do not abide by historic literalism in Abrahamic mythology, mine eyes have seen the obvious: from the indigenous, primitive, nature-worshiping, hunter-gatherer societies in the cradle of civilization emerged industrial western imperialists. The Old Testament has long been the impenetrable stronghold where faithful denial of science, to the preference of personally interpretable divination, defends acquiescence into the ego trip of carnism and concomitant recessive traits of predatory behavior that pervade humanity. The Native American population was often eagerly willing to trade with colonizers and adopt more complex tools such as metal blades and rifles. I've been on a reservation where native children play x-box and are thoroughly "Americanized" by hundreds of tv channels that are beamed to their houses via satellite.

According to author Will Tuttle, in The World Peace Diet, anthropologists such as Marija Gimbutas document inequity, brutality, hostility, suspicion and general uncertainty aversion as being extant proportional to animal abuse in various cultures of Eurasia and Africa. Summarily, predation upon animals increases savagery both inter and intra-culturally. Old Europe, 10,000 years ago, consisted of a nonviolent culture which worshiped a fertility Goddess. Never has a hunting implement nor weapon of war yet been found in an Old Europe archeological site. Inter-species violence accompanies intra-species violence and the dead end of that trajectory is global rule by the military industrial carnists. Native peoples of the Americas weren't nonviolent (e.g. human sacrifices) so the serene imagery of noble savages is insufficient justification for animal exploitation, in light of rigorous evidence, studious analysis and correlative synthesis, and in the interest of a global society of restorative natural abundance in balance with material progress.

Population limitation must take a prominent place in any such debate. If we prefer it to be achieved through eugenics, as has happened in the forced sterilization of "genetically inferior" minority bloodlines, then the notion of mandatory vegetarianism aught not even take hold as a personal ethic. However, if vegetarianism is internalized in light of the evidence that it is our most good and least harmful means of nourishing ourselves within the structure of this society and its predatory technology. Let's never forget that the United States military burned through more oil today than any other organization on Earth. Why is there any mention of the rightness of nobly killing; moreover, is it so simply justifiable as that the victims are to abundant to not kill them? This is about water scarcity, right?

A 2006 United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, evinces that "animal husbandry" is one among a few primary ecology-degrading forces at all levels from local to global. Basing moral justification to kill upon the abundance of a pristine ecosystem is as unsubstantiated as the notion that dietary choice is less important to consider. In no way does the abundance rationale negate the substantiated and urgent imperative to renounce all support of industrial animal agriculture immediately and transition to an ecologically harmonious economic strategy. Unsubstantiated opinions are apt to be appropriated into rationalization of apathy and complicity. The more our diets are plant-based, the less violent we evolve to be. Don't believe me? Please study the behavioral psychology of carnivorous, omnivorous and herbivorous animals. See how beliefs may change. Diet is crucially important; I'll leave it there rather than commit to a comparative value judgement because the where and how of our diets are also vital concerns.