In August, 1994, the US coast guard sent 29 reindeer to St.
Matthew, an island off the coast of Alaska, as an emergency food supply. In 1957, there were 1,350 reindeer. In 1963, there were 6,000. In 1966, there were 42 reindeer and an island covered in skeletons (Rozell). The reindeer had reached their carrying capacity. Carrying capacity, or the number of living organisms an area can support, is an estimated figure that tells us at which point there is not enough land per organism to sustain the population.
Earth’s carrying capacity for humans is estimated to be between 9-10 billion (Wolchover). The world population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050 (Wolchover). What inevitably happens at the carrying capacity is mass extinction.
There is simply not enough land to harvest a sufficient amount of food for everyone. However, humans will always strive for survival. This will force the global population to reconsider the resource efficiency with which they live. Unfortunately, eating meat is inefficient and is therefore one of the habits that must go in order to sustain the population. This is because meat uses more land and resources to grow than plants for the amount of energy they provide us with. Edward Wilson, a HArvard university sociobiologist stated in his book, The Future of Life, “If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.
4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people,” In fact, Swedish, German, and Danish parliament have already discussed a meat tax. Although many people will perceive this loss as negative the effects of halting our consumption of meat products will have a positive effect on many other aspects of our life. Meat is not great for our health and causes many problems such as diabetes, and heart disease. There will be a opening for new markets for food products that will be studied, paving the way for food science. As well, raising livestock has environmental consequences. Obesity is becoming increasingly prevalent. According to the World Health Organization in 2016 over 1.
9 billion people were overweight. WHO states that increasing overweightness/obesity is caused by an increase in consumption of energy dense, high fat food, and physical inactivity. Meat is an energy dense, high fat food that contributes to obesity. Wenpeng You and Maciej Henneberg conducted a study aiming to find whether differences in per capita availability of major food groups contributed to obesity prevalence. The study found that meat availability was strongly correlated with obesity prevalence, even when total caloric availability, levels of physical inactivity, and GDP were controlled.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being overweight or obese can lead to serious health conditions such as mortality, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, and low quality of life. These afflictions cause a decrease in productivity, by way of unemployment due to to sickness or caring for the sick, which is bad for the economy. Obesity cost Canada $4.6 billion in 2008 (stats can). This all shows how big of a problem obesity is to a nation and why the decrease in obesity caused by a decrease in meat will have a positive outcome. Although, there may also be health risks to eating too little meat. A reduction in the consumption of meat will lead us to finding alternative sources of protein. According to Harvard School of Public Health a lack of protein can cause growth failure, loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, weakening of the heart and respiratory system, and death.
A study on the sources of protein intake of American adults found that Americans get a majority of their protein from animal-based products including dairy, accounting for 62% of total protein. Plant protein only made up 30% ( Pasiakos et al.). However a future without meat does not equal a future without adequate protein. In the case of having little to no meat, Americans will be eating more plants anyway and will get protein that way and can get any missing protein from meat alternatives like beans, . Another prospective meat alternative is insect farming. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations claims that, “Crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein.
Besides, they emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock.” Therefore, a decrease in meat will certainly not deprive us of necessary protein and vitamins but will change our diets in a positive way and will lead to new markets and will improve our environment. A reduction in the consumption of meat will be better for the environment. It will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.
According to the FAO the production of livestock releases 7.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Agriculture is a significant driver of global warming and causes 15% of all carbon emissions, livestock produces half of the total emissions. However, the increased amounts of water and other resources like grain needed to raise cattle is a concern to experts worried about feeding an extra 2 billion people by 2050.If the population becomes too great for the Earth to provide food, society can prolong survival a little further by giving up meat.
This gradual phase into reducing meat consumption will lead to a decrease in obesity and other illnesses. Also, it will pave the way for new markets, leading to new fields of food science. The environment will also be greatly affected by this change in a positive way.
The well known demographic philosopher Thomas Malthus stated in his influential work, the Principle of Population, “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” (Malthus 1.17) Meat is only the beginning of the changes the human race will have to make to bear the weight of the population.