Ex­plor­ing a world with­out food an­i­mals

Agriculture - - News -

WHAT WOULD HAP­PEN if U.S. farm­ers stopped pro­duc­ing an­i­mals for food and Amer­i­cans went ve­gan? Some have called for a move in that di­rec­tion to ad­dress in­creas­ing con­cerns about U.S. health, eat­ing habits, and cli­mate change. Re­searchers at USDA’s Agri­cul­tural Re­search Ser­vice (ARS) and Vir­ginia Tech re­cently ex­plored those ques­tions and found sur­pris­ing re­sults. Mary Beth Hall, an ARS an­i­mal sci­en­tist at the U.S. Dairy For­age Re­search Cen­ter in Madi­son, Wis­con­sin, and Robin R. White, a pro­fes­sor of An­i­mal and Poul­try Sci­ence at Vir­ginia Tech in Blacks­burg, VA, found that shift­ing land us­age from food an­i­mal pro­duc­tion to food crop pro­duc­tion would in­crease the to­tal U.S. food sup­ply by 23 per­cent. Be­cause much of that land is un­suit­able for high value crops, most of the ad­di­tional food pro­duced would in­clude high-calo­rie crops like corn and soy­beans.

A com­plete shift away from food an­i­mal pro­duc­tion would present ma­jor chal­lenges to meet­ing Amer­ica’s nu­tri­tional needs. With no meat, milk, eggs, fish, or cheese in our di­ets, the U.S. pop­u­la­tion would not re­ceive enough of sev­eral dif­fer­ent es­sen­tial di­etary nu­tri­ents from the foods they eat, ac­cord­ing to the study re­sults. The find­ings are based on in­for­ma­tion com­piled in the USDA di­etary guide­lines.



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