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Can vegetarianism help end world hunger?

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Vegetarianism, the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat, has gained significant popularity in recent years. Beyond its ethical and environmental benefits, many proponents argue that vegetarianism can also help end world hunger. By redirecting resources from animal agriculture to food production for human consumption, it is believed that vegetarianism can alleviate global food scarcity. This article explores the potential of vegetarianism as a solution to world hunger, examining its impact on resource allocation, food production, and sustainability.

Resource Allocation

One of the key arguments in favor of vegetarianism as a means to end world hunger lies in the efficient allocation of resources. Animal agriculture requires vast amounts of land, water, and feed to sustain livestock. By transitioning to a vegetarian diet, these resources can be redirected towards growing crops for human consumption. This reallocation of resources has the potential to significantly increase food availability and reduce hunger. Consider the following:

  • In the United States, around 80% of agricultural land is used for animal agriculture, while only 20% is used for growing crops directly for human consumption.
  • It takes approximately 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, compared to 25 gallons for one pound of wheat.
  • According to the World Resources Institute, if the land currently used for animal agriculture was used to grow plant-based foods, it could feed an additional 350 million people.

Increased Food Production

Vegetarianism has the potential to increase overall food production, contributing to the fight against world hunger. By eliminating the need for animal agriculture, more land and resources can be dedicated to growing crops. This increased food production can help meet the growing global demand for food. Consider the following:

  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock production accounts for 77% of global agricultural land but only provides 18% of the world’s calories.
  • Plant-based diets require significantly less land and resources to produce the same amount of calories compared to animal-based diets.
  • A study published in the journal Nature found that if the world adopted a vegetarian diet, global food production could increase by 10%.


Another aspect to consider is the sustainability of vegetarianism in addressing world hunger. As the global population continues to grow, it is crucial to adopt sustainable practices that can support long-term food security. Vegetarianism offers several sustainability benefits:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. By reducing meat consumption, vegetarianism can help mitigate these emissions and promote a more sustainable future.
  • Preservation of biodiversity: Animal agriculture often leads to deforestation and habitat destruction. By shifting towards plant-based diets, we can protect natural habitats and preserve biodiversity.
  • Conservation of water resources: As mentioned earlier, animal agriculture requires substantial amounts of water. By reducing meat consumption, we can conserve water resources and ensure their availability for future generations.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Several case studies and success stories demonstrate the potential of vegetarianism in addressing world hunger:

  • In India, where vegetarianism is deeply rooted in cultural and religious practices, the per capita availability of food has increased significantly over the years. Despite having a large population, India has managed to achieve self-sufficiency in food production.
  • In 2019, the city of Ghent in Belgium became the first city in the world to adopt a weekly vegetarian day for its citizens. This initiative aimed to reduce the environmental impact of food consumption and promote sustainable diets.
  • The “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which focused on increasing agricultural productivity, primarily targeted staple crops like rice and wheat. This approach helped alleviate hunger in many regions and highlights the importance of plant-based food production.


While vegetarianism alone may not be the sole solution to ending world hunger, it undoubtedly has the potential to play a significant role. By reallocating resources, increasing food production, and promoting sustainability, vegetarianism can contribute to addressing global food scarcity. However, it is essential to consider the cultural, economic, and social factors that influence dietary choices and access to food. Ultimately, a comprehensive approach that combines vegetarianism with other strategies is necessary to achieve a world free from hunger.