Editor’s Note: One of the key areas of focus at the Aspen Ideas Festival is nutrition and population growth. This blog post addresses this topic.
The concerns and debates around supporting the world’s rapid population growth are vast. When one begins to focus on how the world will feed the ever-growing population, a real paradigm shift is needed towards a more plant-based diet. Plant-based sources for protein are healthier, lower total cost, and are more sustainable.
Consider the typical North American diet. Animal protein is the staple in most meals and most eat more meat than is recommended. Diets high in meat, especially red meat, contain a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol. Eating too much animal protein has been associated with higher rates of heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
A well-balanced plant-based diet is dense in nutrients like protein, fiber, minerals and good fats. Plants like quinoa or hemp contain all ten essential amino acids making them quality sources of protein. Plant based proteins like hemp foods also contain other minerals and healthy omega fats, leaving people feeling full and satiated.
Plant-based diets are also more economical. Ground beef is among the cheapest meats. Let’s say the average cost for three ounces (recommended serving size) of lean ground beef is just under a dollar.
Most plant based protein sources are far less than that for the same serving size. Animal proteins are priced higher because of the cost of grain to feed the animal, the cost of processing the meat, and the cost of transporting meat to the local grocery store.
- CNBC Special Report: Marijuana & Money 2012
Think about all of the resources needed to bring a piece of meat to the table. The process for growing animals for food is extremely inefficient. On average five to seven kilograms of grain is needed to produce one kilogram of beef.
An estimated 70-80 percent of all agricultural land use, or 30 percent of the planet’s land surface, is used for livestock production. Consider how many more people would be fed if transitioned those acres used for animal feed to crops like hemp. The yield from the field would feed more people, and the time to bring food to the grocery shelf is drastically shortened.
Plus, crops like hemp are far more likely to sustain a population than crops seeded for animal feed.
Hemp is one of the most versatile crops in the world. For food products, only the hemp seed is used. The rest of the plant — the stalk or fiber, can be used for clothing, building materials or energy. Thus, transitioning fields from animal feed to crops like hemp produces a wide variety of products to support our growing population.
Adding more plant protein to your diet is easy and makes a big impact. Take small steps like reducing meat portion size, swapping out animal for plant protein in just one meal a day, or try going a day without any meat like “Meatless Mondays.”
Mike Fata helped legalize Industrial Hemp in Canada and started Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods after discovering hemp nutrition as part of his dramatic 100 pound weight loss journey. Today, Mike leads the world’s largest vertically integrated hemp foods manufacturer into mainstream acceptance and recognition. He is driven to educate everyone on the nutritional and environmental benefits of hemp foods, and aims to foster positive change.
CNBC and YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) have formed an exclusive editorial partnership, consisting of regional “Chief Executive Networks” in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These “Chief Executives Networks” are made up of a sample of YPO’s unrivaled global network of 19,000 top executives from 110 countries who are on the frontlines of the economy. The opinions of “Chief Executive Network” members are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of YPO as a whole or CNBC.