While a meat-and-animal-byproduct-free lifestyle is certainly better for the environment, and your waistline, it’s suboptimal when it comes to maximizing cropland.
A new study published in the journal Elementa crunched the numbers on different diets to see how many people could be fed from agricultural lands in the U.S.
Researchers from Tufts University, Cornell University, and Syracuse University created models for 10 different diets that were similar nutritionally but had different sources of protein.
Two of the diets represented the standard American diet: about 80% of croplands were used for animal feed, while 20% of croplands were used for fruits, vegetables, and grains for humans to eat. Eight other diets adhered to dietary guidelines and ranged from a 100% omnivorous population to a 100% vegan population. From there, they looked how many people each model could potentially support.
Surprisingly, the completely vegan diet did not feed the most people. The winner? A vegetarian diet that includes dairy.
Currently, cropland supports 400 million people, but researchers calculated that agricultural lands in the contiguous U.S. could feed almost double that population.
Of course, we’re not saying you should base your diet solely on how many people it could potentially feed. Culture, religion, personal morals and plenty of other factors all play a role in what we decide to nom. Still, this study does provide some interesting food for thought.
Sorry, had to.
And if you’re a carnivore through and through, this might be some inspiration to start doing a few more #meatlessmondays or check out one of the many veggie-friendly restaurants around Toronto.