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My Vegan BBQ at the EPA, Really

On our first Earth Day in 1970, I was burrowed in the stacks at the U.C. Berkeley agricultural library writing Diet for a Small Planet.

Never could I have imagined that on this Earth Day Ibe celebrating at the EPA, enjoying a cafeteria-featured lunch of Texas Vegan BBQ. For this girl from Fort Worth — nicknamed “cow town” — it felt a bit surreal.

Asked to speak in honor of Earth Day, I was delighted. I couldn’t wait to share the big ah-ha‘s I’d been saving up during two years of writing, with Joseph Collins, World Hunger: 10 Myths, to be released in the fall.

In 1970, what triggered Diet for a Small Planet was the shock of learning that we smart Homo sapiens were actively shrinking our food supply by feeding a third of the world’s grain to livestock that return to us only a small fraction of what they eat. We are creating scarcity from plenty. I was dumbfounded.

And here we are today. In the same place — but worse, much worse.

Worldwide, livestock use three-quarters of all agricultural land but supply us with only 17 percent of our calories. Cattle are the least efficient converters of feed to food: From calories in the feed that cattle eat, we humans get only three percent in the animal flesh we eat.

Only by letting these numbers sink in, does the following comparison become believable: