Food Shortages Averted by Going Vegetarian?

A recently published report highlights the growing concern over the rate of meat consumption worldwide that is putting a strain on water resources and could produce a food shortage catastrophe if food habits are not altered or changed all together.

The findings in the report were compiled by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and revealed that human diets are comprised of just about 20 percent of animal-based protein.

They caution that that rate needs to drop dramatically by 2050 in order to provide enough food for the estimated 9 billion people that will be on Earth at that time.

However, the SIWI warns that there is a larger threat other than our current meat-based diet- the current state of available fresh water. The SIWI stated that raising animals requires a great deal of water and that if current farming practices are not changed, both food and water security will be threatened.

"More than one-fourth of all the water we use worldwide is taken to grow over one billion tons of food that nobody eats. That water, together with the billions of dollars spent to grow, ship, package and purchase the food, is sent down the drain," Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, said in a statement.

"Reducing the waste of food is the smartest and most direct route to relieve pressure on water and land resources. It's an opportunity we cannot afford to overlook," he added.

Even before the warnings, domestic meat consumption has been on the decline, roughly down 12 percent since 2007. That averages to about 165.5 pounds per person a year or just about half a pound of meat a day, according to statistics from the Department of Agriculture.

The SIWI also encourages consumers to save water by reducing food waste, increasing food efficiency and recycling waste water in addition to decreasing the amount of meat consumed.