On average, humans get about 20% of their protein from animal-based sources. But scientists warn that this may come to an end in the future. Water shortages and the world’s increasing population mean that meat consumption will need to drop to 5% of protein intake in order to be sustainable at current water levels. These warnings come as Oxfam and the UN brace themselves for the second food crisis in just five years.
The report written by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute points out that 2 billion additional people will join the world’s population by 2050. “There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade.”
Animal protein requires 5 to 10 times more amount of water to produce than produce, making a vegetarian diet an increasingly viable option for handling world food shortages. Currently, 70% of all consumable water in the world goes to food production. As the population increases, water resources will be stretched beyond their limit if animal protein consumption remains steady.
In addition, food production has experienced additional stress due to severe droughts in the US and Russia, which have driven prices for corn and wheat up over 50%. Feed prices for livestock have also increased due to the drought conditions.
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