Worldwide, nearly a billion people suffer every year from chronic hunger. 24,000 people per day or 8.8 million per year die from hunger or related causes. Three-fourths are children under five. Chronic hunger causes stunted growth, poor vision, listlessness, and susceptibility to disease.
Global malnutrition is largely the consequence of inequitable distribution and waste of food resources. Only 10% of hunger deaths are attributed to catastrophic events like famine or war. Hunger is a complex problem, but huge amounts of waste occur because of animal agriculture's role in the depletion of cultivable land, topsoil, water, energy, and minerals, and the extremely inefficient process of converting plants-based foods into animal-based foods.
A meat-heavy diet requires 10-20 times as much land as a plant-based diet. Nearly half of the world's grains and soybeans are fed to animals, resulting in a huge waste of food calories. The extent of waste is such that even a 10% drop in US meat consumption would make sufficient food available to feed the world's starving millions.
Moreover, animal agriculture has been devastating land that could be used for sustainably farming crops. The process begins with clear-cutting of forests to grow animal feedcrops. Without the plant growth to hold it in place, topsoil, laden with minerals, fertilizer, and organic debris, is carried by the runoff of rain and melting snow into nearby streams. The insatiable demand for animal feedcrops leads to the use of sloping land with greater runoff and arid land requiring irrigation. Irrigation accounts for more than 80% of all water available for human use, leading to widespread water shortages.