American study warns:

If every person went meat-free there would be a public health disaster

A new report from the US National Academy of Sciences suggests that if the US were to go full vegan, it would be a disaster. The study was intended to look at the impact of the meat industry on greenhouse gas emissions, and consequently asked what would happen if every person in the US fully embraced meat-free living.

The answer, said Robin White, of Virginia Tech, and Mary Beth Hall, of the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, was disaster for a great many Americans.

The initial impact on food would seem positive; at present we feed huge quantities of food to livestock and without them, the total amount of food available would increase by 23 percent (not including exports).

But that increase would largely be in the form of the same kinds of grains (of which 77 per cent would be corn) and legumes (92 per cent soybeans and soy flower). That would in turn mean that the US would have more of some very important nutrients –carbohydrates, magnesium, copper, and cysteine, for example– than they actually need.

Presumptions that the land used to grow those foods would be transferred to other fruits and vegetables, are incorrect according to the paper‘s authors: ‘Given the tremendous domestic demand for fruits and vegetables, if it was viable to produce more of these high-value crops in the current system, this would already be occurring.‘

More importantly, it would mean a domestic deficit of many nutrients that people now get from animals, such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, B12, arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic fatty acids.

The report didn‘t factor in supplements, only looking at 100 percent nutritional intake from food. The Jackson Observer noted that the report also says that while vegan living on an individual level is possible with a carefully controlled and calibrated supply of rations, it‘s difficult to scale up to a nationwide level, leaving some people in areas with less access to varied plant-based foods malnourished.

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