Better world with veggies?

by Yashbhatt
Tags: veggies, world
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PF Gold
P: 4,642
 Quote by Yashbhatt So, till we don't find a way to completely digest plants we can say that being completely vegetarian would be no better than present?
Why would you say that?

Climate benefits of changing diet. Climatic Change (2009) 95:83–10
 Abstract Climate change mitigation policies tend to focus on the energy sector, while the livestock sector receives surprisingly little attention, despite the fact that it accounts for 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions and for 80% of total anthropogenic land use. From a dietary perspective, new insights in the adverse health effects of beef and pork have lead to a revision of meat consumption recommendations. Here, we explored the potential impact of dietary changes on achieving ambitious climate stabilization levels. By using an integrated assessment model, we found a global food transition to less meat, or even a complete switch to plant-based protein food to have a dramatic effect on land use. Up to 2,700 Mha of pasture and 100 Mha of cropland could be abandoned, resulting in a large carbon uptake from regrowing vegetation. Additionally, methane and nitrous oxide emission would be reduced substantially. A global transition to a low meat-diet as recommended for health reasons would reduce the mitigation costs to achieve a 450 ppm CO2-eq. stabilisation target by about 50% in 2050 compared to the reference case. Dietary changes could therefore not only create substantial benefits for human health and global land use, but can also play an important role in future climate change mitigation policies.
P: 1,472
 Up to 2,700 Mha of pasture and 100 Mha of cropland could be abandoned
To put that in perspective:
The world has a total land mass of 149,000,000 km$^{2}$.
1 square kilometre contains 100 hectares.

2,700 Mha = 27M sq km of pasture ( roughly the size of Morth America )

for the cropland:
100Mha = 1M sq km or roughly the size of South Africa, or Canada and Australia combined

Worldwide:
17,298,900 square kilometres of world land is cultivated.
15,749,300 is used for replanted food crops such as wheat, rice, corn.
1,549,600 is used for other agricultural food crops and industrial plant products such as fruit and rubber trees.

If we ate veggies:
% reduction in cropland worldwide ie replanted cropland = 1,000,000 / 15,749,300 = 6.35%

( I suppose that means that 93.35% of food crop land use is already used for human consumption )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_us...ics_by_country

No breakdown on the pasture land usage at wikepedia.
Although this site might be able to provide some correlation,
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.ARBL.ZS
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 Quote by Pythagorean It's mostly a question of economic viability. Can you produce enough B12 to replace B12 from animal sources? Your own article acknowledges in the abstract that "the apparent nutritional imbalance in the traditional semi-vegetarian diet raised a special attention, especially on vitamin B12 status, supplied by animal foods" and notes the Korean fermented foods as an exception. But, keeping with the thread topic, we're still left with the question of viability of such alternative B12 sources. Not also, this issues that have arisen so far with B12 synthesis. The B12 produced by cyanobacteria like in Spirulina is well known for being a pseudovitamin. The B12 it produces is useless to humans: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17959839
Most of the B12 derived from algal sources is a pseudovitamin. However, a small proportion (around a sixth) is biologically active in humans. Here's a reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10552882

Now that having been said, educated vegans will not rely on spirulina for their B12 needs. They will look to fortified vegan foods like Marmite, cereals and soy milk. The source for the B12 here is industrially synthesised from bacterial cultures. There are tons of bacteria in large chemostats just pumping out B12, which goes to fortify vegan foods and produce vegan supplements. Clearly, this is cost-effective because the process can be done on a large industrial scale, and there is an actual demand from people who choose to be vegan for ethical and/or other reasons.

You can read more about it here: http://www.vegetarian.org.uk/factshe...factsheet.html There is a list of references in the peer reviewed literature at the bottom.

The relevant quote:

 The industrial production of vitamin B12 for the fortification of foods involves fermentation with bacteria. Large-scale production is carried out using a number of bacterial species, including for example Pseudomonas denitrificans, Propionibacterium freudenreichii and Propionibacterium shermanii. Bacterial cultures are grown in huge vats for the extraction of B12. B12 can be obtained from many everyday food items that are fortified such as veggie burger and sausage mixes, yeast extracts, vegetables stocks, margarines, breakfast cereals and soya milks. See below for guide to how much B12 is contained in a range of these foods.
 PF Gold P: 4,287 Hi Curious, thanks for you post. That article was careful to reference things except for when it brought up production! so I dug up a paper on microbial production: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11935176 Looks like pretty good production rates. I was just curious whether it could replace the world demand for B12; not just vegan's (which make up about 3% of the US taking the average from wiki's pool): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetar...#United_States
 P: 166 @Monique I just wanted to know if it's easier to digest plants than to digest animals. You already answered that. So, thanks.
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 Quote by Pythagorean Hi Curious, thanks for you post. That article was careful to reference things except for when it brought up production! so I dug up a paper on microbial production: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11935176 Looks like pretty good production rates. I was just curious whether it could replace the world demand for B12; not just vegan's (which make up about 3% of the US taking the average from wiki's pool): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetar...#United_States
Thanks for your reference - it certainly "supplements" this discussion.

Sure, I believe that it's possible to generate enough microbial B12 to sustain the entire human population on a vegan diet. There just has to be a massive demand for it. When that's accomplished, the supply part is not difficult - large scale industrial operations are eminently scalable.
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Everything you wanted to know and more...and more...and more.

 Most nations in the West, as well as Japan, have already seen saturations of per capita meat consumption: inexorably, growth curves have entered the last, plateauing, stage and in some cases have gone beyond it, resulting in actual consumption declines. Most low-income countries are still at various points along the rapidly ascending phase of their consumption growth curves, but some are already approaching the upper bend. There is a high probability that by the middle of the 21st century, global meat production will cease to pose a steadily growing threat to the biosphere’s integrity.
 Killing animals and eating meat have been significant components of human evolution that had a synergistic relationship with other key attributes that have made us human, with larger brains, smaller guts, bipedalism and language. Larger brains benefited from consuming high-quality proteins in meat-containing diets, and, in turn, hunting and killing of large animals, butchering of carcasses and sharing of meat have inevitably contributed to the evolution of human intelligence in general and to the development of language and of capacities for planning, cooperation and socializing in particular. Even if the trade-off between smaller guts and larger brains has not been as strong as is claimed by the expensive-tissue hypothesis, there is no doubt that the human digestive tract has clearly evolved for omnivory, not for purely plant-based diets. And the role of scavenging, and later hunting, in the evolution of bipedalism and the mastery of endurance running cannot be underestimated, and neither can the impact of planned, coordinated hunting on non-verbal communication and the evolution of language.
 Rational meat eating is definitely a viable option. Toward Rational Meat Eating We could produce globally several hundred millions of tons of meat without ever-larger confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), without turning any herbivores into cannibalistic carnivores, without devoting large shares of arable land to monocropping that produces animal feed and without subjecting many grasslands to damaging overgrazing – and a single hamburger patty does not have to contain meat from several countries, not just from several cows. And there is definitely nothing desirable to aim for ever higher meat intakes: we could secure adequate meat supply for all of today’s humanity with production methods whose energy and feed costs and whose environmental impacts would be only a fraction of today’s consequences.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...-meat-excerpt/
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Quote by Evo
 from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...-meat-excerpt/ Killing animals and eating meat have been significant components of human evolution that had a synergistic relationship with other key attributes that have made us human, with larger brains, smaller guts, bipedalism and language. Larger brains benefited from consuming high-quality proteins in meat-containing diets, and, in turn, hunting and killing of large animals, butchering of carcasses and sharing of meat have inevitably contributed to the evolution of human intelligence in general and to the development of language and of capacities for planning, cooperation and socializing in particular. Even if the trade-off between smaller guts and larger brains has not been as strong as is claimed by the expensive-tissue hypothesis, there is no doubt that the human digestive tract has clearly evolved for omnivory, not for purely plant-based diets. And the role of scavenging, and later hunting, in the evolution of bipedalism and the mastery of endurance running cannot be underestimated, and neither can the impact of planned, coordinated hunting on non-verbal communication and the evolution of language.
Thanks for the article, interesting read! About the quote above, I always find it silly that something that was important for evolution 6 M years ago is being cited as a reason to eat meat in modern days.
 PF Gold P: 4,287 Of course, it wasn't just agriculture, it was also animal husbandy, which included the harvesting of animal products. But I agree that evolutionary origins aren't a reason for motivating a particular lifestyle behavior. That's the paleo diet claim, and we know paleo is not the best diet for modern man.
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 Quote by Pythagorean Of course, it wasn't just agriculture, it was also animal husbandy, which included the harvesting of animal products. But I agree that evolutionary origins aren't a reason for motivating a particular lifestyle behavior. That's the paleo diet claim, and we know paleo is not the best diet for modern man.
Yes, animal husbandry was practised side-by-side with crop farming. But of the two, I believe the latter to require a more stable civilisation. Extant nomadic cultures practice animal husbandry but they are considered to be less advanced than stable sessile civilisations. A nomad who takes his sheep to graze on a nearby grassland or drink from a nearby river never has to think about how he might get that crop to grow in a fixed place that's more convenient to him and his herd, or how he might divert the course of that body of water to his ends.
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 Quote by Curious3141 Yes, animal husbandry was practised side-by-side with crop farming. But of the two, I believe the latter to require a more stable civilisation. Extant nomadic cultures practice animal husbandry but they are considered to be less advanced than stable sessile civilisations.
It's hard to know that. You're comparing societies that had both husbandry and agriculture with societies that just had husbandry; it's not a case of comparing just husbandry to just agriculture. Also, "advanced civilization" isn't a word that modern anthropologists use very often. It's typically used by a non-academic groups in an ethnocentric manner to justify occupation, missionary work, and codification.
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Thanks
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 Quote by 256bits 2,700 Mha = 27M sq km of pasture ( roughly the size of Morth America ) for the cropland: 100Mha = 1M sq km or roughly the size of South Africa, or Canada and Australia combined
That sort of accountancy ignores the ecological effects of removing the farmed animals from the pasture land. Either they will be replaced by wild animals (which might not be a good idea, if the native replacement species are large and/or dangerous) or the flora will change dramatically when the grazing pressure is removed.

Sustainable agriculture probably needs animals as well as plants. A nice example (up to the 19th century) was the chalk downs in southern England. The landscape is basically a plateau of chalk with a thin soil covering that can only support grass, with a network of deep river valleys. The traditional farming method was to use the grass land for grazing sheep and the valleys for growing crops. Outside of the crop-growing season, the sheep were driven up to the grass land each day and back down the valleys each night, partly for safety and shelter, but more importantly to use their poo and pee as fertilizer.

Of course you could get rid of the sheep and ship in fertilizer from half way round the world - but if you think the sheep are more environmentally friendly, you might as well eat them rather than letting them die of natural causes.
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 Quote by Pythagorean It's hard to know that. You're comparing societies that had both husbandry and agriculture with societies that just had husbandry; it's not a case of comparing just husbandry to just agriculture.
But that's the point. What they have in common (husbandry) doesn't distinguish them. It's what one group has over the other (agriculture) that makes the difference.

If you're saying that I should be comparing against societies that practice purely crop rearing to the exclusion of animal husbandry, those are a little hard to come by. No historical examples come to mind.

 Also, "advanced civilization" isn't a word that modern anthropologists use very often. It's typically used by a non-academic groups in an ethnocentric manner to justify occupation, missionary work, and codification.
Well, I acknowledge that nasty things have been done, and continue to be done, on the basis of pseudoscientific "cultural anthropology". But we can definitely infer some distinctions between different societies that allow us to estimate "how far along they are", at least in modern technological terms (which is often held to be a good indicator of the further development of human civilisation). Would you quibble with me if I stated that a jungle-dwelling animistic tribe was a less advanced civilisation *in technological terms* than an urban city-dwelling society? Because I think that's self-evident.

The distinction between nomadic tribes and agrarian societies is not as stark, but it's clear to me the latter is "further along" in the same sense.
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 Quote by Monique Thanks for the article, interesting read! About the quote above, I always find it silly that something that was important for evolution 6 M years ago is being cited as a reason to eat meat in modern days.
I'm not seeing that at all in the excerpt or reviews of the book. What I'm seeing is excruciating background detail on how we got here, with no implication that that's a reason to continue on course and an author unwilling to give the often preferred one-word answer to the question.
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 Quote by Curious3141 Would you quibble with me if I stated that a jungle-dwelling animistic tribe was a less advanced civilisation *in technological terms* than an urban city-dwelling society? Because I think that's self-evident.
In your cherry-picked example, sure, but you have to recognize you're cherry-picking. Particular nomadic peoples had advancements of their own that allow them to dominate geological regions. For example, consider the Mongols. Once you start adding qualifiers then it becomes a more reasonable claim. But making a generalization about a society just being overall "advanced" requires a careful analysis of what you actually mean by advanced.

Underlying all of this is the implication that eating vegetables is more advanced than (aka superior to) eating meat. Otherwise, then the discussion is completely irrelevant to this thread, no? So, intentional or not, it gives the impression of a snobby vegetarian stance.
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 Quote by russ_watters I'm not seeing that at all in the excerpt or reviews of the book. What I'm seeing is excruciating background detail on how we got here, with no implication that that's a reason to continue on course and an author unwilling to give the often preferred one-word answer to the question.
I was questioning why Evo brings up that quote.
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 Quote by Curious3141 I qualified that I meant "technologically advanced". Your point about the Mongols is valid (although it's also cherry picked). But consider this: after an empire is established by fire and the sword comes a period of consolidation and stabilisation. That task fell to Genghis' grandson, Kublai Khan, who was actually very pro-agriculture, according to historians. Source: http://asiasociety.org/countries/tra...mongol-dynasty Quote: So Kublai Khan (who has been almost universally lauded as a great and fairly enlightened ruler for his time, and is even celebrated in Coleridge's verse) recognised the value of agriculture over the strictly nomadic lifestyle that is typical of Mongol culture.
I agreed with you about the SA article, but then you seemed to keep carrying it out, as if to give it validity, but only after you reframed it in favor of a particular lifestyle. I wasn't cherry picking, since I wasn't using a specific example to support a generalization. Cherry-picking is formally known as "proof by example", a logical fallacy. What I did was "proof by counterexample", rebutting your generalization (which only requires a single counter-example). I made no claim generalizing what kind of society was more advanced. I'm not arguing that nomadic people are more advanced based on the example of the Mongols.
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 Quote by Curious3141 Actually, I don't insist on any of what I said. I merely wanted to point out the fallacy inherent in the Scientific American article (that Evo quoted), which argues that the meat-eating lifestyle is evolutionarily linked to higher intelligence. I wanted to demonstrate that it's easy to argue the other way too, as I have.
You didn't demonstrate anything. Please post the peer reviewed studies that show that we would have evolved as we did without meat. It is widely accepted that meat was responsible for the changes that made us the way we are today.

 So I am no more "snobby" than the author of that SA article. If you agree with him, my argument is a reasonable counterpoint. But if you (rightly) think he's full of it, feel free to assume that I am making a purely rhetorical point.
No, just because you say so doesn't work here, you need to actually post mainstream studies that show your personal theory has scientific backing.

You might wish to read this study, if it's too much, then specifically http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53561/#ch1.s3 will show why adding meat changed us.

 Quote by Monique I was questioning why Evo brings up that quote.
Because it would help the Op to understand why our bodies developed to be omnivores. It makes no claims that we don't have modern means in some parts of the world to make a vegetarian diet completely adequate.

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