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Could changes in Dietary Patterns of world population alleviate hunger problems.

by Khichdi lover
Tags: alleviate, dietary, hunger, patterns, population, world
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feathermoon
#19
Dec20-11, 11:48 PM
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You don't need a constantly increasing population to cause a Malthusian disaster if you have increasing constantly per capita pollution to supplant it. ;]
ThomasT
#20
Dec21-11, 02:25 AM
P: 1,414
Quote Quote by Khichdi lover View Post
Most of the world consumes non vegetarian food significantly. This wikipedia article compares the virtual water requirements of various food products :-


I am showing the water requirements just as an example. But even land required to produce 1 kg of beef/red meat must be greater than land required to produce 1kg eggs.

So if human beings start shifting towards food products which require less resources for their production , but have similar nutritional value , maybe food shortage problems across the world could be lessened.

By this logic , soy-milk fortified with calcium could be a substitute for cow's milk.

Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
There's plenty of food in the world. The problem is getting it to the people who need it.
widereader
#21
Dec21-11, 03:31 AM
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Quote Quote by Khichdi lover View Post
Most of the world consumes non vegetarian food significantly. This wikipedia article compares the virtual water requirements of various food products :-

Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
Hunger problems will never be solved in this inequitable world. While the first world countries have excess of food, third world countries are trying to live on a day to day basis yet their governments cannot provide them even a meal to be eaten once a day. Truly,the political stability of a country is one factor. Another is the ideologies that its leaders have.
feathermoon
#22
Dec21-11, 06:00 AM
P: 60
Unfortunately its a self correcting problem.

Its not really a global problem, honestly, but a local problem. Populations exceed their carrying capacity (or in some cases go too far under it) and starvation occurs. Even well fed countries have exceeded their carrying capacities in many cases (though the ensuing deaths aren't typically human).

Anyway, how is eating beef in large amounts a personal liberty? Sounds like entitlement to me. Maybe that's the real issue.
ThomasT
#23
Dec30-11, 03:38 AM
P: 1,414
Quote Quote by Khichdi lover View Post
Most of the world consumes non vegetarian food significantly. This wikipedia article compares the virtual water requirements of various food products :-


I am showing the water requirements just as an example. But even land required to produce 1 kg of beef/red meat must be greater than land required to produce 1kg eggs.

So if human beings start shifting towards food products which require less resources for their production , but have similar nutritional value , maybe food shortage problems across the world could be lessened.

By this logic , soy-milk fortified with calcium could be a substitute for cow's milk.

Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
There's no shortage of food or any other resources. The amount of food is not the problem. It simply is not a priority to actually get it to the people who need it. There you have it. The US gives billions of dollars to people in the governments of various impoverished countries. That 'aid' is not intended to diminish the suffering of or to alleviate the hunger of the impoverished. It's payments to the people with guns who run things and couldn't care less how many of their fellow human beings die of hunger.

The only way to solve the problems of the truly impoverished countries of the world, mostly in Africa, is to invade, occupy, and technologically build them. But nobody has the resources, or is willing to commit the resources, to do that. So there you have it. No matter what happens wrt to scientific advancements in food production or whatever. It doesn't matter.

The people in our world who are starving are starving because NO governments care to help them. It has nothing to do with resources or the amount of food available. There's PLENTY of food!!
Ryan_m_b
#24
Dec30-11, 04:25 AM
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Quote Quote by ThomasT View Post
The only way to solve the problems of the truly impoverished countries of the world, mostly in Africa, is to invade, occupy, and technologically build them. But nobody has the resources, or is willing to commit the resources, to do that. So there you have it. No matter what happens wrt to scientific advancements in food production or whatever. It doesn't matter.
That's obviously not the only way, you can also make sure that your aid is spent well (not just given to dictators) and given under specific conditions (i.e use this aid to by tractors from my country) so as to encourage infrastructure development.
Bobbywhy
#25
Dec30-11, 04:42 AM
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Oh, ThomasT! Your post above nearly makes me cry, and I am a 68 year-old man! You say that the "lowest billion" people are simply going to die of starvation because no governments care to help them. And it gets worse: in around 40 more years there may be TWO OR THREE BILLION more mouths to feed. Unless the current production/distribution system is drastically modified then hunger and death will become the great stabilizer of world population growth.

I tried diligently here in post #5 above to publicize how scientists had 5 ways to greatly reduce the world hunger problem, now and in 40 years. Am I terribly na´ve to think we might actually diminish world hunger? Are those scientists wasting their time and energy? If your assessment is correct, then why should scientists bother searching for solutions? What about NGOs? Can they make any difference?
Can you propose any ways to diminish the problem (besides invading, occupying, and building the necessary technology)?

The referenced article is here:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...feed-the-world
klimatos
#26
Dec30-11, 04:57 AM
P: 417
Quote Quote by Khichdi lover View Post
Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. .
I seem to recall that during the Partition of India, mass starvation was common. The U.S. sent tremendous quantities of wheat which rotted at the distribution points. The people insisted on rice and would not touch the wheat.
russ_watters
#27
Dec30-11, 05:48 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
That's obviously not the only way, you can also make sure that your aid is spent well (not just given to dictators) and given under specific conditions (i.e use this aid to by tractors from my country) so as to encourage infrastructure development.
How do you avoid the dictator taking the tractor without protecting it with military force?
Ryan_m_b
#28
Dec30-11, 06:02 AM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
How do you avoid the dictator taking the tractor without protecting it with military force?
Where's this implicit assumption coming that all aid goes to countries with dictators who just pocket it? To deal with the question though there are many ways to convince a leader to develop his country, feed his people etc all without military force.
russ_watters
#29
Dec30-11, 11:12 AM
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Lets examine the issue of world hunger with a little more detail before circling back around to that....

There is a new scale for measuring "food security" that classifies such problems according to severity for a finer/better categorization of a problem than just saying "famine"*:

(1) Generally Food Secure
(2) Moderately/Borderline Food Insecure
(3) Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis
(4) Humanitarian Emergency
(5) Famine/Humanitarian Catastrophe

http://www.ipcinfo.org/overview.php
http://www.ipcinfo.org/attachments/ReferenceTableEN.pdf

*Commentary: IMO, the very existence of such a scale is evidence to me of how small of a problem hunger has become in the world. We take a proactive stance and address risk today rather than waiting for famines to happen in most cases. The wiki listing famines cites the 1984-85 Ethiopia famine as a major motivator that has caused the Western world to choose to stop/prevent later famines when food aid (money) alone (as opposed to military force) is capable of doing it.

Here's Wikipedia list of famines in chronological order:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famines

The first thing one notices is that in the past 10 years, there have only been two "famines", but a number of "food crises".

For example, the 2006 Horn of Africa Food Crisis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Ho...ca_food_crisis
The details are sparse, but the wiki says that several million people were affected, requiring food aid, and 30 (yes, thirty) died. That this event was severe enough to get on the list and have a wiki page associated with it is, to me, a testament to how far we've come in eliminating starvation in the world. Lets look at some actual famines, though:

2011 Horn of Africa Famine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Ho...Africa_drought
This one is ongoing, so the numbers aren't final, but it has killed something like 29,000 children in Somalia. Somalia. Somalia. Looking at the map in the wiki, what separates the "famine" regions from those in "crisis" and "emergency" situations is a line on the map, ie the border between Somalia and Kenya. Somalia has no functioning government, only local warlords (small-time dictators). So quite literally, what separates a food crisis/emergency from a famine in this case is a [or several] dictator[s].

Other recent famines:
2003 Sudan/Darfur
1998-2004 Congo
1998-2000 Etheopia
1998 Sudan
1996 North Korea
1991-2 Somalia

Now looking through this list, I find that I need to qualify my statement about dictators somewhat. Only one (North Korea) was specifically caused by a traditional dictator. The rest involve war or anarchy type situations. The effect, however, is similar and the point really hasn't changed in a substantive way: violent political problems cause or worsen food production/distribution problems and thwart aid efforts. But as I said, functionally there isn't much difference between a local warlord and a dictator.

Looking through the list further back, it appears to me that the last famine to occur without a war or indifferent dictator being a large contributer to the cause or worsening of it was Ethiopia in 1973.

So:

There are many countries in Africa and a small handful outside of Africa that live perpetually on the edge of a food crisis. A cyclical drought of the type that one sees every few years in a great many countries is enough to tip the food supply from barely adequate to woefully inadequate, risking famine in poor countries. But in today's world, actual famines only happen when bad/violent political situations thwart aid efforts to stop/prevent them.

Circling back to the OP, as I and others have said, there is no global food shortage requiring a change in diet to deal with. But expanding, there are many countries "at risk". I would say that like an illness, there are two timeframes of food security problems: acute and chronic.

Acute hunger problems in the world today are all caused by natural disasters or wars and all are stopped/prevented by the West unless thwarted by dictators of some flavor. And that's the way it needs to be: when a drought or flood happens, some countries become physically unable to produce their own food and thus the only way to stop/prevent a famine is for us to go do it. And we do because we choose to.

Chronic hunger problems aren't about not having enough food in the world either, but rather are about having the stability and uniformity of wealth to get everyone the food they need. Every country in the world has such problems to one degree or another (though I suspect it might anger an African if you tell him that 14.5% of Americans have food insecurity problems). IMO, shipping tractors to Ethiopia isn't the answer. A tractor does nothing for you if there is a drought so it doesn't help prevent famines, nor does it provide uniform distribution to poor villagers who can't buy the food produced by the tractor. Now I realize that the tractor is just a simplistic exmple like my dictator example was simplistic, but what I'm getting at is that there are really only two ways to deal with long-term food insecurity:

1. Long term aid. By this I mean we in the West continuously pour tons of money, food, seed, equipment, etc into poor countries as a sort of long-term welfare relationship.

2. Develop poor countries politically and economically so they can deal with their own emergencies and long term poverty issues.

Currently, we do #1. It won't/can't ever be enough. There are just too many people and it costs too much money for us to prop them all up and as others have said, a lot of that money will always be wasted/stolen due to bad political situations in countries we are trying to help. But as I said, we do stop/prevent actual famines and put some money into the chronic needy and IMO, that's good enough: that's as far as I think our moral duty extends. #2 has to happen largely on its own (more on that later).

For war/dictator-caused famines, we can either do nothing about them or we can impose short term aid or long term political change by military force. In 1991 we tried a halfhearted combination of both in Somalia and ultimately decided that 300,000 dead Somalis were not worth 19 dead Americans, so we quit and left - and have done virtually nothing since in similar situations (See: Darfur, 2003). The amount we care about starving and oppressed people in the world has increased to the point where now we're willing to give money and prevent famines when people want our help, but we're not yet willing to give [many] lives to force people to accept our help. Is that the right thing to do? [shrug] Dunno.

So to answer your question more directly, Ryan: When there's a famine, in today's world, there's always a dictator/warlord/tribal chieftain behind it. That's a historical fact of the last 38 years. But expanding the scope of the issue to general food security problems, I agree with ThomasT's two points that aid does not truly fix long term problems and even as a long-term prop-up, much is wasted/stolen by such local dictators. Because major food security problems go hand in hand with political problems, the only way to "make sure that your aid is well spent" in most cases is to have an army follow it around. And we do that in a lot of cases, which is fine, but it's not a solution to the underlying problem. And sure, you can apply political pressure and put conditions on your aid, but that tends to take the form of simply pulling the aid if the conditions aren't met (North Korea) or if the military cost required to ensure it gets where it needs to go is too high (Somalia). Our ability to actually ensure that it goes where it needs to via political pressure is highly limited and most of the famine deaths in the world in the past 20 years happened because political pressure couldn't get it where it needed to go and we declined to use the military force required.

Beyond that, my personal opinion is that because political/economic change is required to truly fix the food security problems rather than just temporarily abating them with aid over and over again, we shouldn't be giving aid except in cases of true acute need. By repeatedly temporarily relieving the problems, we create a dependency: Since a country that is receiving aid doesn't have a food security problem because it has been temporarily abated, there is no incentive to fix the underlying cause. This is the basis of my moral and logical objection to welfare, as it is currently practiced in the West, in general.

If anyone finds this cold, consider the other side of the coin: utilizing/witholding food aid to coerce political change both morally wrong and practically pointless, in my opinion. Because cancelling aid is a negative act whereas a bomb is a positive act, withdrawing aid as a form of coercion is slightly less morally wrong than purposely dropping a bomb on a civilian population, but it is equally as futile. Both acts use a weapon to harm civilians in the hope that the fallout coerces political change from the government. That's dangerously close to the definition of terrorism. From a practical point of view, if the local warlord is the one handing out the food and you pull the food aid to try to coerce the warlord to have an election, who will the peasant get more mad at? Is it the guy that just handed out the bag of rice or the guy who now won't give him another bag to hand out? By using the aid as a coercive force, we're using dictator tactics without the ability to reach the people directly to convince them of who is the worse dictator.

War is morally superior to using food aid as a coercive weapon because instead of aiming the weapon at the suffering civilians, we're aiming the weapon at the person oppressing them.

So I am against food aid with conditions attached. I think when we give aid it should be unconditional, but due to the moral and practical problems associated with long-term, coercive aid (even if it is only moderately coercive), we shouldn't do give it. Perhaps that's beyond what you meant by "make sure that your aid is spent well", but I think the issue is far bigger/more complicated than that anyway.
Evo
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Dec30-11, 11:25 AM
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The conditions in impoverished African countries are not improving. Government troops are stealing the food.

The already mostly lawless capital has been made even more chaotic with the arrival of thousands of refugees fleeing drought in the south, the famine's epicentre. International groups face huge challenges in distributing food inside Somalia.

The worst-hit part of the country is a no-go area for many aid groups because it is controlled by al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, who deny there is a famine and who have allowed only some groups to enter.

More than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of immediate food aid. The UN says 640,000 children in Somalia alone are acutely malnourished. The UN has declared five famine zones in Somalia, including the refugee camps of Mogadishu.

Witnesses said two WFP trucks were delivering aid when the chaos broke out. The food program often tries to do what it calls "wet feedings" in Somalia — giving out already made food like porridge — to limit the chances that it will be looted.

"They fired on us as if we were their enemy," famine refugee Abidyo Geddi said. "When people started to take the food then the gunfire started and everyone was being shot. We cannot stay here much longer. We don't get much food and the rare food they bring causes death and torture."

Private militias — most of them politically connected — are competing to guard or steal food. At least four competing militias have the run of government-controlled areas of Mogadishu.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2...-shooting.html
klimatos
#31
Dec31-11, 12:55 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
They can raise cattle in areas not suitable to agriculture. Better to raise cattle than leave the land empty.
In the United States, most cattle are raised in feedlots, not on open range. The Midwest produces far more beef cattle than the western states do.

Even beef cattle that graze most of the day are fed supplements throughout the year and get most of their nourishment from supplemental feeding during the winter months. There are very few species of beef cattle that can survive without feeding and still produce useful meat. All commercial dairy cattle have to be fed.

Remove the cattle from the Western public lands, and those lands will produce increased numbers of deer, elk, antelope and other native animals. From a national standpoint, the public range cattle industry is economically insignificant--Hollywood to the contrary. I remember Edward Abbey pointing this out quite a few years ago. I imagine that it is even truer today.
klimatos
#32
Dec31-11, 01:13 AM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
So I am against food aid with conditions attached. I think when we give aid it should be unconditional, but due to the moral and practical problems associated with long-term, coercive aid (even if it is only moderately coercive), we shouldn't do give it. Perhaps that's beyond what you meant by "make sure that your aid is spent well", but I think the issue is far bigger/more complicated than that anyway.
I agree with you generally, Russ, but I doubt that this is true of most Americans. Photos of starving children have a powerful emotional impact that overcomes common sense.

I wonder, though, why you omit overpopulation from your short list of causes of chronic hunger. Most of the locations you cite historically supported populations without famine--populations that were numerically much lower. And all of them have birth rates that are much higher than in the developed world.

Despite periodic droughts, these lands can and did support their people without famine. All of your listed areas have too many people to support with the economic means at hand.

Population control is always politically unpopular. But is sure beats famine!
russ_watters
#33
Dec31-11, 09:13 AM
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Quote Quote by klimatos View Post
I wonder, though, why you omit overpopulation from your short list of causes of chronic hunger. Most of the locations you cite historically supported populations without famine--populations that were numerically much lower. And all of them have birth rates that are much higher than in the developed world.

Despite periodic droughts, these lands can and did support their people without famine. All of your listed areas have too many people to support with the economic means at hand.

Population control is always politically unpopular. But is sure beats famine!
Yes, if you have starving people, you can either get more food or reduce the number of people. I omitted "reduce the number of people" it because in a developed and integrated world, people who can't produce food can buy it from people who produce too much food. I do not consider "overpopulation" to be a local problem, only a global one (if it existed, which it doesn't).

So to me the underlying, primary problem is poverty and everything else is caused by the poverty. I do suppose, however, that lack of population control (on the individual level) contributes to the poverty problem: If you have kids but you don't have enough food/can't afford to feed them, you've worsened your poverty problem and all associated problems including lack of food. That's not just a problem in Africa, it is a problem in the US as well. So I support non-coercive population control efforts such as education and free/cheap birth control (both here and abroad).
klimatos
#34
Dec31-11, 05:12 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
Yes, if you have starving people, you can either get more food or reduce the number of people. I omitted "reduce the number of people" it because in a developed and integrated world, people who can't produce food can buy it from people who produce too much food. I do not consider "overpopulation" to be a local problem, only a global one (if it existed, which it doesn't).
Come on, Russ. This is not up to your usual high standard. If starving people had money to buy food, they wouldn't be starving! And postulating some "pie in the sky" utopia that is "developed and integrated" is disingenuous. It doesn't exist, never has existed, and I see no evidence that it ever will exist.

In any case, free-market economics tells us that if you gave all of the world's starving peoples enough money to buy food, then the price of food would rise until some of those people still wouldn't have enough money to feed their families. And so on.

As for overpopulation not being a problem, when will it be a problem? When the world population is fifteen billion? two-hundred billion? a trillion? Both economics and ecology tell us that for any given environment and utilization scheme there exists an optimum population density beyond which the return per capita diminishes and the environment degrades

The quality of our natural environment has already degraded significantly from when I was a young backpacker back in the 1940s. I find it sad that my grandchildren will never see the Colorado Plateau or the Yellowstone back-countries the way I did. Increased population has led to increased pollution and degraded natural assets. And the rates of pollution and degradation are increasing.

I think that the world population is already too large for optimum enjoyment. At eighty years of age, I shall soon be decreasing that number by one, and it will no longer be my problem. Instead, it will be (and is) the problem of our younger readers of this Forum.

Good Luck to them!
Bobbywhy
#35
Dec31-11, 11:33 PM
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I find it remarkable that Russ W. concludes in post # 29 “…how small of a problem hunger has become in the world” and “…a testament to how far we've come in eliminating starvation in the world.” while citing these five references:

http://www.ipcinfo.org/overview.php
http://www.ipcinfo.org/attachments/ReferenceTableEN.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famines
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Ho...ca_food_crisis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Ho...Africa_drought

I say a remarkable conclusion because the message the reader gets from reading the post is that the starvation/death cycle is not large or significant based on those small numbers cited, and that great progress in elimination of the problem has been made. It is true that the Wiki page on famines leaves blank the number of victims (deaths) for the most recent decade. This is presumably because the dying from lack of food to eat is still continuing.

While it is true some progress has been made, I think it is more accurate to say that hunger, malnutrition, and premature death continues to affect huge numbers of our human family.

This report gives a very different view of the magnitude of the problem:

November 17, 2009
Rome, Italy (CNN) -- Somewhere in the world, a child dies of hunger every five seconds -- even though the planet has more than enough food for all.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laid out this sobering statistic as he kicked off a three-day summit on world food security Monday in Rome.
"Today, more than 1 billion people are hungry," he told the assembled leaders. Six million children die of hunger every year -- 17,000 every day, he said.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/eu...y.food.summit/

Then there’s this:

Worldwide around 852 million people are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty, while up to 2 billion people lack food security intermittently due to varying degrees of poverty. Source: (Food and Agriculture Organization)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FAO

And this:

Food and feed crop demand is likely to double in the next 50 years, as the global population approaches nine billion (my bold). Growing sufficient food will require us to make changes such as: increasing productivity in areas dependent on rain fed agriculture; improving soil fertility management; expanding cropped areas; investing in irrigation; conducting agricultural trade between countries; and reducing gross food demand by influencing diets and reducing post-harvest losses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_security

It is true that non-governmental organizations and a variety of charities have made some progress in reducing the magnitude of the problem. And only by the application of a whole spectrum of solutions can this tragedy be permanently diminished. But today the sheer number of premature deaths from malnutrition remains high.
Moonbear
#36
Dec31-11, 11:53 PM
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Quote Quote by ThomasT View Post
There's plenty of food in the world. The problem is getting it to the people who need it.
This is the problem. Hunger in third world nations is not due to a lack of food surplus in first world nations, it is a political problem of distribution of that food.

By the way, herbivores are very efficient food sources, but it depends on how they are fed. They can thrive on the portions of plants that are inedible to humans as well as weeds that are also inedible to humans. Think about corn as an example. The only part of the plant humans can eat are the corn kernels, which is a very small part of the plant. The stalks, leaves, husks and cobs are all inedible for us, but great food for cattle. We digest the animal protein more efficiently than plant protein, too. There is also no plant source of vitamin B12, which is an essential vitamin. We normally get that from animal products. Supplements can be manufactured from bacteria, but that's pretty expensive compared to consuming animal products. Other products claiming to have plant sources of the vitamin are deceptive claims, as it's not a biovailable form. That doesn't mean we are carnivores either. There are other nutrients we can more easily obtain from plants. Humans are omnivores that generally need a lot of seeds, fruits, and vegetables and small amounts of animal products. In colder climates, fats become more important, but most people in cold climates have access to warm shelter today, so that's not so important anymore.


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