This is the largest number and proportion of malnourished people ever recorded in history.
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In large measure, the food shortage and malnourishment problem is primarily related to rapid population growth in the world plus the declining per capita availability of land, water, and energy resources 3. Like the world population, the US population continues to grow rapidly. The US population doubled in the past 60 y and is projected to double again in the next 70 y 4 Figure 1.
In both diets, the daily quantity of calories consumed was kept constant at about kcal per person. Projection of US population growth in the next 70 y 4. The lactoovovegetarian diet was selected for this analysis because most vegetarians are on this or some modified version of this diet. In addition, the American Heart Association reported that the lactoovovegetarian diet enables individuals to meet basic nutrient needs 5.
A comparison of the calorie and food consumption of a lactoovovegetarian diet and a meat-based diet is provided in Table 1. In the lactoovovegetarian diet, the meat and fish calories were replaced by proportionately increasing most other foods consumed in Table 1 in the vegetarian diet except sugar and sweeteners, fats, and vegetable oils. The total weight of food consumed was slightly higher kg per year in the lactoovovegetarian diet than in the meat-based diet kg per year.
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The most food calories consumed in both diets were associated with food grains, and the second largest amount of calories consumed was from sugar and sweeteners. Per capita food consumption, energy, and protein of foods of a meat-based compared with a lactoovovegetarian diet in the United States.
The amount of feed grains used to produce the animal products milk and eggs consumed in the lactoovovegetarian diet was about half kg the amount of feed grains fed to the livestock kg to produce the animal products consumed in the meat-based diet Table 1. This is expected because of the relatively large amount of animal products consumed in the meat-based diet 7. Less than 0.
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This reflects the larger amount of land needed to produce the meat-based diet Table 1. The major fossil energy inputs for grain, vegetable, and forage production include fertilizers, agricultural machinery, fuel, irrigation, and pesticides 8 , 9. The energy inputs vary according to the crops being grown When these inputs are balanced against their energy and protein content, grains and some legumes, such as soybeans, are produced more efficiently in terms of energy inputs than vegetables, fruits, and animal products 8.
To produce 1 kcal of plant protein requires an input of about 2. The meat-based diet differs from the vegetarian diet in that kg of meat and Note that the number of calories is the same for both diets because the vegetarian foods consumed were proportionately increased to make sure that both diets contained the same number of calories. The total calories in the meat and fish consumed per day was kcal. The foods in the meat-based diet providing the most calories were food grains and sugar and sweeteners—similar to the lactoovovegetarian diet. In the United States, more than 9 billion livestock are maintained to supply the animal protein consumed each year This livestock population on average outweighs the US human population by about 5 times.
Some livestock, such as poultry and hogs, consume only grains, whereas dairy cattle, beef cattle, and lambs consume both grains and forage. At present, the US livestock population consumes more than 7 times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population The amount of grains fed to US livestock is sufficient to feed about million people who follow a plant-based diet 7. From the US livestock population, a total of about 8 million tons metric of animal protein is produced annually.
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With an average distribution assumed, this protein is sufficient to supply about 77 g of animal protein daily per American. With the addition of about 35 g of available plant protein consumed per person, a total of g of protein is available per capita in the United States per day Note that the recommended daily allowance RDA for adults per day is 56 g of protein from a mixed diet.
Therefore, based on these data, each American consumes about twice the RDA for protein. Americans on average are eating too much and are consuming about kcal in excess per day per capita 12 , The protein consumed per day on the lactoovovegetarian diet is 89 g per day. This is significantly lower than the g for the meat-based diet but still much higher than the RDA of 56 g per day. About kg of meat is eaten per American per year 6.
Of the meat eaten, beef amounts to 44 kg, pork 31 kg, poultry 48 kg, and other meats 1 kg. Additional animal protein is obtained from the consumption of milk, eggs, and fish. For every 1 kg of high-quality animal protein produced, livestock are fed about 6 kg of plant protein. In the conversion of plant protein to animal protein, there are 2 principal inputs or costs: 1 the direct costs of production of the harvest animal, including its feed; and 2 the indirect costs for maintaining the breeding herds. Fossil energy is expended in livestock production systems Table 2.
For example, broiler chicken production is the most efficient, with an input of 4 kcal of fossil energy for each 1 kcal of broiler protein produced. The broiler system is primarily dependent on grain.
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Turkey, also a grain-fed system, is next in efficiency, with a ratio of Milk production, based on a mixture of two-thirds grain and one-third forage, is relatively efficient, with a ratio of Both pork and egg production also depend on grain. Pork production has a ratio of , whereas egg production has a ratio. Animal production in the United States and the fossil energy required to produce 1 kcal of animal protein. Education will play a key role in helping consumers to accept alternative types of protein-rich foods and to understand both why we need to produce them, and the resulting environmental benefits that these new types of agriculture may present.
In parallel with the need for education, food manufacturers will also need to develop high quality, appealing products from these new protein sources, which consumers will enjoy.
Protein Challenge 2040: Sustainable protein production for the future
We consume proteins through eating unprocessed meat, fish, vegetables and dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Over the past few decades developments in processing technologies have made it possible to extract and purify proteins that offer defined functional and nutritional characteristics. Proteins extracted from sources including plants, dairy products and dairy by-products are used to improve the nutritional value of a wide range of everyday food and health products, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and meat alternative products.
Proteins similarly represent key functional ingredients that can add texture to foods, as well as optimize the viscosity, emulsification, stability, foaming or fat-binding properties of a wide range of food products. Food manufacturers can select those with the desired purity, functionality and organoleptic properties — how the protein affects the taste, look, and smell of food — for their final products. Purified whey proteins, for example, are key components in many types of protein powders, supplements and snacks that are used by sportspeople to help build muscle, as well as in nutritional products for patients who are recovering from illness or who have special dietary requirements.
Industry needs to stay flexible to extract proteins from different sources. Installing versatile, efficient processing technologies allows the food manufacturing industry to handle a wide range of raw materials, according to local agricultural practices and seasonal availability. Farmers and producers are aware of the benefits of growing and husbanding crops, livestock, and novel protein sources that will not only thrive in the local environment and match seasonal climatic conditions, but which will put least pressure on land and water resources.
The ability to process locally sourced protein similarly minimizes wastage, reduces carbon footprint by lowering transport and cold chain requirements, and helps to ensure that local people have access to affordable, high quality nutritional foods. The agricultural and industrial sectors are continuing to work together to develop food processing technologies that will ensure efficient, sustainable protein production.
Farmers aim to implement sustainable practices - for both existing and new sources of protein — which will help to safeguard the environment and reduce our reliance on non-renewable resources. Ensuring that the feed inputs to aquaculture are sustainable, as well as the production methods, is vital.
By working with FeedKind, we are able to offer shrimp that have been grown using feed that has completely replaced the fish caught for fishmeal in the feed with an innovative alternative protein. The fact that the protein has a unique carbon signature that helps provide traceability and reduce seafood fraud are other significant benefits.
Fishing activities associated with the production of fishmeal for feed have been associated with unsustainable practices.