Would Going Vegetarian Help Curb the Drought?

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

It’s only getting worse. As a fifth year of crippling droughts dries California up, leaders at local and state levels have been seeking a host of ways to combat the absence of water, the most basic necessity. While desalinization and using recycled waste water are drawing more interest, liberal media outlets have suggested that going vegetarian could be a viable, long-term option.

So, is saying no to beef the answer? Doubtful.

A significant portion of California’s water is consumed by the agricultural industry. And of course meat, nuts and animal products use the largest amount of water, according to a recent article in the Huffington Post. One pound of beef, for example, requires 1,847 gallons of water.

But banning hamburgers and steaks from your diet won’t really have any significant impact on weathering the drought–at least not in the short-term. And even if that were the case in a long-term overhaul of the meat industry’s production output, it wouldn’t really make a dent in California’s drought; infrastructural reform and innovation are really the only main things that would help.

A water expert and director of urban water policy with Stanford University’s Water in the West initiative told the Huffington Post that even if everyone in California stopped consuming beef products, it wouldn’t necessarily stop or slow down its production.

California is America’s fourth-largest beef producer. And it is highly unlikely that just because a certain liberal-minded population believes in depriving themselves of a delicious bacon cheeseburger or ribeye steak that the Golden State’s beef producers will not continue to look elsewhere to sell their product.

A report by Business Insider last year found: “The global demand for meat is growing, particularly in China and India, which could see an 80% boom in the meat sector by 2022 due to a new (and growing) middle class. Africans are also starting to eat more meat, though the supply and demand are still not quite what they are in other parts of the world.”

The Huffington Post cites policymakers who are encouraging a diet that weeds out meat.

In June of last year the Huffington Post suggested that going vegan would help reduce the world’s carbon footprint by a “ridiculous amount”– a significant exaggeration.

Photo: file

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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