This very fact should make all those think again who assume that livestock animals are basically fed grass. Apart from that many people still believe that the rainforests and our climate are destroyed in order to provide soy products for vegans. Actually the opposite is true: about 90% of soybeans are used for making animal products. http://www.provegan.info/eng/vegan/for-human-rights/
Immense areas are needed for growing soybeans in tropical countries (cf. clearing of rainforests). In contrast to that, all the soy products for human use that can be bought in our country come from organic European agriculture without any genetic modification.
The worldwide production of soybeans amounts to about 290 million tons per year. In 2016 the amount raised to about 330 million tons. http://www.globalsoybeanproduction.com/
The worldwide production of grain runs up to nearly ten times that amount, which means about 2.75 billion tons in 2016.
In addition to that, the FAO’s SOFIA report states that about 160 million tons of fish are caught every year.
On the basis of the above-mentioned figures of the amount of production we can do the following calculation:
Assuming that the soybeans and the corn that are cultivated are no longer used to feed animals but are immediately used as human food, another 5.2 billion people could be fed sufficiently year by year. This calculation will be explained in the following.
Average calorie content of soybeans, corn and fish:
Annual soy production
290 million tons = 290,000,000 tons
Share for animal feed (90%) ≙ 261,000,000 tons
1 ton of soy = 4,500,000 kcal
-> 261,000,000 x 4,500,000 kcal = 1,174,500,000,000,000 kcal
-> This figure indicates the calorie content of soybeans that are used as animal food every year.
Average annual calorie needs of humans:
2500 kcal x 365 = 912,500 kcal
1,174,500,000,000,000 kcal : 912,500 kcal = 1,287,123,287
-> This means that 1.29 billion people could be nourished with the soy which is used for animals.
2.75 billion tons = 2,750,000,000 t
Share for animal feed (50%) ≙
1 t ton of corn ≙ 3,700,000 kcal
-> 1,375,000,000 x 3,700,000 kcal = 5,087,500,000,000,000 kcal
-> This corresponds to the calorie content of the grain that is fed to animals per year.
5,087,500,000,000,000 kcal : 912,500 kcal = 5,575,342,465
-> This means that 5.58 billion people could be nourished with the grain that is fed to animals.
Altogether 6,87 billion people would be able to live on the soy and grain that livestock animals are fed with. The following calculation will show how many people are actually fed with the animal products which are made by means of the soy and grain.
According to the FAO, around 315 million tons of meat were produced worldwide in 2014.
The average calorie content of meat is about 250 kcal per 100 g, i.e. 2,500,000 kcal per ton.
-> 315,000,000 x 2,500,000 kcal = 787,500,000,000,000 kcal
-> This figure represents the calorie content of the total annual production of meat.
787,500,000,000,000 kcal : 912,500 kcal = 863,013,699
-> 863 million people can be nourished with the meat that is produced per year.
Per year about 805 million tons of milk are produced according to the FAO.
The average calorie content of milk is around 60 kcal per 100 g, thus 600,000 kcal per ton.
-> 805,000,000 x 600,000 kcal = 483,000,000,000,000 kcal
-> This figure represents the calorie content of the total annual production of milk,
483,000,000,000,000 kcal : 912,500 kcal = 529,315,068
-> 529 million people can be nourished with the milk that is produced per year.
Production of eggs
In 2015 about 70 million eggs were produced.
The average calorie content of eggs is about 155 kcal per 100 g, thus 1.550.000 kcal per ton.
-> 70,000,000 x 1,550,000 kcal = 108,500,000,000,000
-> This figure represents the
calorie content of the total annual production of eggs,
108,500,000,000,000 kcal : 912,500 kcal = 118,904,109
-> About 119 million people can be nourished with the eggs produced in a year.
The 60% of the worldwide catch which is eaten by humans could feed about 210 million people. At first sight, it seems reasonable that we keep on catching fish. Yet you will find an explanation under ‘studies’ and ‘slaughter’ which shows why it is no longer desirable to catch fish in the 21st century for ecological and ethical reasons as well as for reasons of health.
Putting all the figures together, we can see that the grain (5.58 billion) and the soybeans (1.29 billion) which are fed to livestock animals would suffice to nourish 6.87 billion people.
In contrast, meat (863 million), milk (529 million), fish (210 million) and eggs (119 million) together can feed only 1.72 billion people.
Yet it is questionable if the Planet should be inhabited by 12 billion people. But one thing is for sure: It is an enormous waste that the animal production deprives mankind of food for 5 billion people. This is where the well-known saying comes from: “The animals of the rich eat the bread of the poor.”
The figures concerning the amount of the food production which is fed to livestock animals differ according to the respective sources. Some indicate lower and others higher amounts. A study of the University of Illinois on behalf of the US government even states a 98 percentage of soybeans that are used for animal food: http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/48661/PDF
But even if it was only one half of the 90% of soybeans and the 50% of grain, this would nearly be enough to feed an additional 3 billion people.
The facts shown here should be able to convince any critic of veganism – at least as far as the waste of resources is concerned. For it is often argued that it would be impossible to feed all people on a vegan diet as the larger part of farmland could not be used for plants which can be eaten by man.
Like many other such arguments, this one, too, is based on superficial knowledge and on the erroneous assumption that livestock animals solely feed on grass. The facts given above clearly refute this argument.