Food Math 101

While the driving force behind The Plantrician Project is the impact of our food choices on human health and the sustainability of our healthcare system, one cannot ignore the correlation between our food choices and global sustainability—including our ability to feed the world’s burgeoning population.

From a “Food Math” perspective, let’s take a look at a few irrefutable facts. Consider this:

The earth’s surface is covered by oceans and other bodies of water and approximately 8 billion acres of arable land—the equivalent of about 6 billion football fields (approximately 1.3 acres each).

Currently, there are over 7 billion people on the face of our planet, predicted to hit the 9 billion mark by 2050.


In order to produce the Standard American Diet (SAD), heavily comprised of animal protein and dairy, it’s estimated that the equivalent of 2 football fields are required per person per year—with much of this allocated to growing the crops to feed the animals. If all 7 billion of us on the face of the earth were consuming the SAD, we would need at least two planet Earths to feed us all, and we only have one.

By contrast, on just one football field of arable land, it’s estimated that food can be produced to feed 7 people for an entire year when they are consuming a predominantly plant-based diet.


If everyone in the world consumed a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, we would have the equivalent of nearly 5 billion football fields worth of arable land that could be returned to forested land to regenerate the lungs of the planet or to expand food production to meet the needs of a growing world population.

When considering this, in addition to the science that supports the efficacy of whole food, plant-based nutrition in its ability to prevent, suspend and even reverse the chronic, degenerative diseases that are plaguing much of the world, it’s clear that a shift to a heavily plant-based dietary lifestyle both domestically and internationally is essential.

J. Morris Hicks, Author, Healthy Eating, Healthy World: “When comparing our typical Western diet to a whole food, plant-based diet on a per calorie basis, we find that it requires over 10 times as much land, over 10 times as much water, and over 10 times as much energy.”

When it comes to grain production vs. beef production: By using our grain to produce beef, we waste an estimated 96% of the grain’s calories and 100% of its fiber. Hence, for every “quarter pounder” of beef consumed, (190 calories of beef) the grain required to produce those 190 calories would produce enough grain to feed three people for an entire day.

The good news: The dietary lifestyle that’s the most health promoting and disease fighting is also what’s sustainable and enables us to feed the world’s growing population. A predominantly whole food, plant-based diet = global sustainability.

Click here for all sources for stats and calculations outlined above.

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