Veganism and the world hunger problem. What if the world eliminated meat?

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A world in which meat and animal products are not consumed is difficult for us to imagine. For most of us, these products are part of our daily diet. Meat and dairy are also sources of protein and many vitamins and minerals. However, their consumption and the way they are farmed have long raised moral concerns. So, would it be worth replacing these products with plant-based foods?

Reducing or eliminating the consumption of animal products could have a positive impact on the climate and the environment. [1] Livestock farming produces about 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Also, preparing meat dishes requires more energy from us than in the case of plant-based ones. [10]

A properly balanced vegan diet is beneficial for our health. Thanks to its high content of vegetables and fruits, it prevents cancers and cardiovascular diseases. People on a plant-based diet are less likely to struggle with diabetes and hypertension. [2] This means that such nutrition could prevent lifestyle diseases. [2]

Is meat consumption an indicator of a society’s prosperity?

It can be observed that meat consumption is correlated with the economic development level of a country. The wealthier a country is, the higher its meat consumption. [6] The United States is the country with the highest meat consumption in the world. There, over 100 kg of meat is consumed per capita annually. [7]

The lowest meat consumption is found in African countries and India. [7] These are countries where poverty is a significant issue. Their citizens grapple with both quantitative and qualitative malnutrition. [5]

World hunger problem: statistics

According to UN data, currently as many as 735 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. This is 122 million more than in 2019. [3]

This problem is most pronounced in African countries, parts of Asia, and South America. It is estimated that in Africa, one in every five people does not have access to food. [3] Often, residents of these parts of the world also lack access to potable water.

International organizations have set a goal to eliminate the problem of hunger by 2030. [3] However, this is a monumental challenge. The main reasons the situation is not improving are ongoing armed conflicts and climate disasters. This prevents the full development of countries affected by this problem.

Can veganism impact the world hunger problem?

A vegan diet involves completely eliminating animal products from one’s nutrition. Vegans often also refrain from using woolen or leather products. Meat, milk, and all dairy are replaced with plant-based products. Switching to such a diet is usually motivated by moral or health reasons. [2] Veganism and vegetarianism have been gaining popularity in recent years. [4]

The world hunger problem is influenced by various factors. These are primarily issues related to a country’s economy and geopolitical situation. These are things that the average person has no control over. So, can our daily dietary choices contribute to alleviating the world hunger problem?

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About animal farming

The breeding of livestock in the quantities currently observed has consequences for both society and the environment. These include issues related to the previously mentioned CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. There are also vast amounts of plant resources that could just as well be consumed by humans. Currently, they are used as feed for animals. [8]

The meat and dairy produced primarily reach consumers in developed countries. Unfortunately, this deepens hunger in developing countries. This is mainly due to the improper distribution of resources. [9]

According to the FAO report, 50% of aid for the starving goes to the residents of Sub-Saharan Africa. However, a significant problem has arisen related to the local economy. Since food was being provided, local small farms began to collapse. Many people lost their income due to this. There was a loss of jobs. This deepened poverty in these areas even more. It turns out that providing aid in the form of just food may be a temporary solution. In the long run, it can exacerbate the problem. [5]

So, if we were to abandon livestock farming, theoretically, the amount of plant food suitable for human consumption could increase. [10]. However, merely providing food to poverty-stricken countries won’t solve the world hunger problem. Countries that would receive this food would become entirely dependent on their suppliers. To genuinely improve the situation, the focus should be on supporting the socio-economic development of these areas. Education and better access to healthcare are also crucial. [5]

Overconsumption of meat

The average European Union citizen consumes about 68 kg of meat per year, with pork being the majority [7]. In contrast, the average American consumes up to 101 kg of meat annually, with poultry being the most frequently consumed meat in America. [7]

Meat and animal-derived products provide many nutrients and are an excellent source of protein. Unfortunately, in these countries, meat often comes in the form of heavily processed products. Fast foods and products deep-fried in oil are detrimental to our health. Such dietary habits can lead to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other lifestyle-related diseases. [10]

People choose to adopt plant-based diets for various reasons, and these diets are gaining increasing popularity. In the USA, vegetarians make up just under 4% of the population, while in Germany, the figure stands at about 9%. [2] Despite this, according to UN reports, global meat consumption may increase by several percentages by 2030. This is due to the continuous growth of the world’s population and the steady increase in wealth in developed countries. Our increasingly fast-paced lives also favor opting for unhealthy foods.

Is veganism the best path for human and planetary well-being?

A well-balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can be beneficial for our health. One of the main advantages of such a dietary choice is the avoidance of highly processed meats and the increased consumption of vegetables. This could prevent obesity and other diseases. [2] Choosing not to consume meat could also positively impact the environment. However, to see global effects from this choice, a majority of humanity would need to adopt a vegan diet. [1]

Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on reducing processed food intake and caring for the planet’s well-being. It’s essential not to waste food and to incorporate plant-based protein sources into our diets. A vegan diet or meat substitutes may offer an intriguing perspective for the future.


  1. Beck Valentin, Ladwig Bernd Ethical consumerism: Veganis, Wires Climate Change, January/February 2021 
  2. Cader Paulina, Lesiów Tomasz Weganizm i wegetarianizm jako diety we współczesnym społeczeństwie konsumpcyjnym, Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny we Wrocławiu, sierpień 2022 
  3. Centrum prasowe UNICEF [dostęp 29.09.2023]
  4. Dejnaka Agnieszka, Sposoby odżywiania się przez konsumentów – nowe trendy, Wyższa Szkoła Bankowa we Wrocławiu, 2019
  5. Kasprowicz Daniel, Bezpieczeństwo żywnościowe i niedożywienie w Afryce Subsaharyjskiej – nowe kierunki i trend, Probl Hig Epidemiol 2015, 96 (1): 84-91 
  6. Kwasek Mariola, Tendencje w spożyciu mięsa na świecie Roczniki Ekonomiczne Kujawsko-Pomorskiej Szkoły Wyższej w Bydgoszczy 6, 2013 
  7. Kowalewska Magdalena, 2021 [dostęp 29.09.2023]
  8. Medawar Evelyn, Zedler Marie, de Biasi Larissa, Effects of single plant-based vs animal-based meals on satiety and mood in real-world smartphone-embedded studies, Science of Food volume 2023
  9. Minassian Liana, Why the Global Rise in Vegan and Plant-Based Eating is No Fad (30x Increase in US Vegans + Other Astounding Vegan Stats) Food Revolution Network, April 2022 
  10. Mroczek Karolina, Ptasiuk Weronika, Mroczek Janusz R., Wybrane ekologiczne i etyczno-religijne aspekty konsumpcji mięsa, Polish Journal for Sustainable Development, Tom 26 55-62s, rok 2022 
  11. Sakkas Hercules, Bozidis Petros, Touzios Christos, Nutritional Status and the Influence of the Vegan Diet on the Gut Microbiota and Human Health Medicina 2020, 56 
  12. Springmann Marco ,Godfray H. Charles J., Rayner Mike, Scarborough Peter Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change PNAS Vol. 113 No. 15, March 2016