I have five kids. The typical responses when people hear this?
Or “What? Five kids?!?”
Or, just an awkward raising of the brow.
Maybe they’re thinking I look too young to have five kids. Or that having so many kids must be extremely stressful, never mind that I’m contributing to overpopulation.
I never feel obliged to explain, but for the record:
Our first child was born when I was 25. The last came along 10 years later. They range in age from 6 to 16.
We have a wonderful relationship with each of them and love our shared life.
Finally (and this is the big one) I’m not concerned with overpopulation.
My big concern is with overconsumption. That’s why our plant-based family of seven is consuming fewer natural resources than a single person who eats meat.
Let me clarify.
I expect the global population to reach between 10 and 11 billion people and then level off. The math is fairly simple. This must-watch video from Hans and Ola Rosling of the GapMinder Foundation presents a compelling case as to why this is so.
I also believe that our planet can easily sustain that population if humankind respects — and continually invests in — Earth’s health. Our current food system does neither!
One glaring failure stems from our use of water to raise meat. The commercial chicken population, for example, consumes 30 percent more water each day than what’s necessary for human survival.
For cattle, that figure climbs to 800 percent!
Both those totals, however, pale in comparison to the amount of water used to grow livestock feed:
“The water consumed to grow feed for cattle, chicken and other livestock accounts for ‘… approximately 80 percent of the nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western states.’”
Some estimate that eating vegan consumes:
1/11 (9 percent) of the oil
1/13 (7.7 percent) of the water
1/18 (5.5 percent) of the land
that eating meat does.
In other words, our vegan family of seven consumes less than one-half of the Earth’s food-growing resources that just one omnivore does.
Put another way, do you remember the Duggar family from TV’s 19 Kids and Counting? If they were strictly plant-based, they’d consume fewer natural resources than one childless, omnivore couple!
So yes, raising five kids in an environmentally conscious, plant-based family keeps me young, carefree, and is sustainable.
Even if it means that they may be sharing the Earth with 11 billion others!
Coming soon: I’ve started working on a series of posts in which I examine the vegan vs. omnivore natural resource consumption more closely. I will add an update to this post once I’ve completely my research.