Beware Visions of a Vegetarian Dystopia

Roger Ebert's Journal pointed me to a forboding article at the Guardian by John Vidal that warns that the coming worldwide water shortage will force all of us into a meat-lovers apocalypse of vegetarianism.

Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world's leading water scientists....

Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. Other options to feed people include eliminating waste and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit.

This news also comes on the heals of the recent warning of a worldwide bacon shortage, otherwise known as the Baconpocalypse. 

None of these warnings are all that upsetting to me. Our family has gradually migrated toward a more vegetarian diet. We still eat meat but much less than we used to. Our foray into food and faith traditions has accelerated this shift. The Orthodox fasts are vegetarian, our kosher month was mostly vegetarian because of concerns about mixing meat and dairy, and now I'm experimenting with the Seventh-Day Advent regimen which is strictly vegetarian. (I haven't worked my way up to no caffiene yet but I'll get there.) These traditions affirm that vegetarianism is good for the body and the soul, and it sounds like scientists agree that it is good for the earth as well.

I'm not ready to give up bacon yet, but I don't live in fear of being a vegetarian, and I don't see why any of us should. It could be worse, we could be talking about a future without coffee and chocolate. Oh, wait a minute. Some scientists are warning that climate change could bring an end to coffee an chocolate as well. Now that's a future worthy of apocalyptic angst.