There is more than enough food in the world to feed the entire human population. So why are more than a billion people still going hungry? Our meat-based diet is largely to blame. We funnel huge amounts of grain, soybeans, and corn through all the animals we use for food instead of feeding starving humans. If we stopped intensively breeding farmed animals and grew crops to feed humans instead, we could easily feed everyone on the planet with healthy and affordable vegetarian foods.
Raising animals for food is extremely inefficient. For every pound of food that farmed animals are fed, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh. The rest of those calories are burned away raising the animal to slaughter weight or contributing to feathers, bone, skin, blood, and other parts of the animal that are not eaten by humans. This is why animals raised for food have to eat as many as 16 pounds of grain to create just 1 pound of edible flesh. The prestigious Worldwatch Institute states, "Meat consumption is an inefficient use of grain—the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world's poor."
As a meat-based diet spreads to developing countries, farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land. Their efficient, plant-based agricultural model is being replaced with intensive livestock rearing, which also pollutes the air and water and renders the once-fertile land dead and barren. If this trend continues, the developing world will never be able to produce enough food to feed itself, and hunger will continue to plague hundreds of millions of people around the globe.