cattle for meat eatingI have been saying all this while that the only reasons why we should be a vegetarian and not eat meat are natural and environmental. We have already had a fair amount of discussion with reference to the natural reasons – God Made Us Vegetarian, We Made Ourselves Meat Eaters.

Let us now embark on the environmental factor. Before we do so, in my opinion we need to first work out what is the number of animals needed to satisfy the meat eating craving of the man. For the sake of simplicity let us assume that man consumes only beef.

With this assumption, let us try and figure out by first principles, the number of cows, needed to satisfy the meat eating appetite of the human population.

At the time of writing this, as per the World Population Clock maintained by the US Census Bureau, the current human population of the world is 6,773,600,879

It is estimated that about 2.8% of the population in the US is vegetarian. If again for the sake of simplicity I assume that that is true of the world at large, then it would mean that about 97% of the world population eats meat. Furthermore, for the sake of being highly conservative, let us assume that this estimate is 100% in error, then it would mean that 6% of the world population is vegetarian and 94% eats meat.

Also the population of India at the time of writing is 1,142, 727,275

It is estimated that between 20-42% of the Indian population is vegetarian. Again to be highly conservative, let us assume the higher number as the percentage of Indians who are vegetarians – that is 42%.

With the above, the number of meat eaters in the world work out to be 5,955,803,007

The details of meat eating populations versus vegetarian population is as below:

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Human Population of the world         6,773,600,879
Population of India         1,142,727,275
Non-Vegetarian Population (%) – (World – India) 94%
Non-Vegetarian Population (%)  – India 58%
Total Non-Vegetarian Population – World         5,955,803,007

It is a well known fact that The Recommended Dietary Allowance or RDA (sometimes referred to as Recommended Daily Allowance) is defined as “the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (approximately 98 percent) healthy individuals”.

The RDA can be broadly classified as being applicable into two age categories – new born to 15 years being one and more than 15 years being the other.

For the purpose of arriving at the meat requirement to support the meat consuming population of the world, we assume that the protein requirement for the children (less than 15 years) is 20 gm. And the protein requirement for the adults is 50 grams. This is as per the RDA.

According to the 2006 CIA World Fact book, around 27% of the world’s population is less than 15 years of age. Thus Non Vegetarian population greater than 15 years of age works out to be 4,347,736,195.

It is well known fact that per gram of protein and carbohydrates produce 4 calories each of energy and each gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. Thus RDA requirement of 50 grams protein works out to be equal to 200 calories or 10 percent of the RDA calories. (Most fitness enthusiasts and doctors would tell you that 50 grams of protein is low, but I have still taken a very conservative estimate of 50 gms as per the RDA)

I understand that 4 oz. or 128 grams of beef gives 220 calories. Thus to get 200 calories of energy you therefore require 116 grams of meat.

With the above assumptions and facts, the total requirement of beef to support the non vegetarian population in the world would be 578,308,472 kg!

And this number is arrived thus:

Population > 15 years (%)                        73%
Non Vegetarian Population > 15 years          4,347,736,195
Min. Calorie Requirement – 2000 RDA    8,695,472,390,600
Assume that 10% comes from meat (50gm Protein)       869,547,239,060
Kg meat needed per day             504,337,399
Non Vegetarian Population < 15 years          1,608,066,812
RDA Requirement 20 gm Protein in Kg Meat              73,971,073
TOTAL MEAT REQUIREMENT (KG)             578,308,472

Now to calculate the number of cattle that will produce this meat, we need to know how much meat is available per beef cattle. This number is 516lbs or 234.55 KG. (The same source also mentions much lower meat per cattle, but I have taken a number which is higher by almost 50% – to be highly conservative in my calculations)

Thus the total number of cattle that is required PER DAY for the meat eating populace would be 2,465,608!

Two and a Half Million !!

And assuming that the beef cattle is slaughtered, on an average, at the ripe old age of 2 years, at any given point of time you would require to raise 1,799,894,200 cattle.

That is a staggering 1.8 Billion bovine.

What kind of natural resources will be required to sustain such a large number of ARTIFICAILLY raised cattle – your guess is as good as mine.

But we shall discuss that in the next few days.

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