World Vegetarian Day and Solving Food Inequality- Could Bugs be the Answer? Blog by Beth Twiss
Attempting to turn the planet into a more food sustainable place is one of the biggest challenges for sustainability. People love their food, the event industry uses masses of food and will inevitably waste a huge amount, and the majority of the population eat meat, with approximately 84% of vegetarians going back to being meat eaters. This leaves humans as a race in a situation where food waste and over population is affecting the planets resources in a negative way. With meat having a much higher energy footprint than any other food this is one of the main problems the world has alongside waste. As World Vegetarian Day fast approaches on the 1st October it is an interesting thought to consider how we can create a more sustainable food industry and event industry to solve food inequality and how we can make our own personal changes to curb these effects.
ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO STOP EATING MEAT?
Many leading researchers have claimed that the human population by 2050 will have to switch to an almost entirely vegetarian diet. If this does not happen we as a race will face catastrophic global food and water shortages. Worldwide meat production increased nearly 5 times in the second half of the 20th century, and the amount eaten per person doubled. By 2050 meat consumption could increase by as much as another 160 percent. With the population rising the amount of animals being farmed also rises- the repercussions of this will be animals consuming more water and more food. Cattle, for example, consume a shocking 17 times more grain calories than they produce as meat calories. All that lost grain (which humans could have eaten) requires water. Ultimately we can see that the meat industry is not as sustainable as we would have hoped. Although at many events we can now see a noticeable amount of vegetarian and vegan stalls, meat is still the most popular. The event industry will never be solely vegetarian, but attempting to use less meat when possible will ultimately help toward this problem of an unsustainable meat industry.
BUT COULD THIS BE CHANGED?
Take a minute to digest (not literally, don’t worry!) the idea of a diet consisting of a large proportion of insects. Now I can already imagine the appalled reaction to such a notion! But it is actually one of the most sustainable ways of eating. Insects release significantly less amounts of greenhouse gases such as methane, methane is only released in small amounts from certain insect groups, but is in no way comparable to current livestock. Deforestation would be reduced as insects do not require the same amount of room that current livestock require, this will improve the current situation on greenhouse gases and will allow natural beauty to flourish without being interrupted. Insects already form a traditional part of many diets across the world with this system being widely accepted in Asia- so if it's the norm here, we can definitely give it a go can't we? Insects have great nutritional value and can be compared to meats such as chicken or beef; they are high in proteins and essential fats. It is a radical idea, yes, but you can see the positive effects it could bring! Perhaps in the future it could be used at events as a food stall to change people’s views on what they are eating? If critters became a part of every day meals we would see radical and positive change from the food industry- less carbon foot print, less food waste, low- cost farming with little implications on the planet. This could ultimately be the first step to solving food inequality- with the cheaper and easier means of harvesting bugs that can be readily available across the world with less water usage and waste!
So, maybe this month you can make a change? With World Vegetarian Day on the 1st October we can take the values of this day and apply it to our everyday life. Now, you don’t have to change to a diet of bugs, however, making one easy change to a ‘meat- free day’ once a week could make a huge difference. If the whole population took to a ‘meat- free day’ just once a week, imagine the positive impacts it would have on the food industry, waste and the planet.