Water shortage forces world to become vegetarians, scientists predict

Swedish institute says there won’t be enough water to produce animal-based products by 2050.

Water seems to be everywhere in the news lately. Isaac is slamming the Gulf, while 65% of the country is experiencing drought conditions. Then I came across this article in which the Stockholm International Water Institute predicted the world’s population might be forced to become vegetarian by 2050.

The gist behind the institute’s prediction is that there won’t be enough water to maintain our agriculture needs in the future.

“There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations,” the institute said.

The article continues: "A move towards vegetarian diets could help free up large portions of arable land to human food production," Orion Jones wrote on BigThink.com. "A third of current farmland is used to grow crops that feed animals. Additionally 'animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet.'"

While I doubt this prediction will come true, it brings up a good point about the need to recognize how our actions today affect the world’s environmental health. In our October issue we will share the results of our fourth annual Environmental Study. Sixty-eight percent of respondents in our survey said they conserve water in their personal lives to try to help the environment. Twenty-six percent have installed water-flow restrictors in their operations.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the water/vegetarian prediction and what you’re doing in your operation to conserve water. Send me your thought at bschilling@cspnet.com or respond in the comments section below.


More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

Ideas and Innovation
nutrition facts label

Despite operators’ attempts to communicate nutrition information to guests via cards and labels on the food line, many guests still feel they have no clue what’s in their food. University of Illinois food economist Brenna Ellison shares a few guesses as to why consumers ignore these signs following a recent study on their placement in dining halls.

Q: Who is most likely to read the cards?

A: Students who were already exhibiting more healthy behaviors. So those were the students who track their intake using an app or a food diary. After the first week, we found the rates of people...

FSD Resources