This was published in the “letters to the editor” section of the Sunday Tribune this morning:
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is really misguiding us on how to solve the current water shortage crisis.
The best way for us to save water, which is essential to our future, is that we stop eating meat completely. Animals raised for food consume and waste huge amounts of water for our flesh-eating needs, and just advocating such acts is not morally justifiable.
According to a recent pamphlet brought out by Animal Rights Africa concerning the fight against global warming and how veganism is the best option to fight it, “Raising animals for food consumes more than half of all the water used in the world. It takes 11 365 litres of water to produce a kilogram of meat but only 272 litres to produce a kilogram of wheat.”
The department should have at the top of its list on “how to save water 101”, a “going vegan strategy for all”, and not a “don’t water your lawn too much” or “don’t take too long showers”, because that is absurd.
As Africans we’re being hit hardest by global warming. Why not be at the forefront of fighting it, by abstaining from consuming animal products completely?
Van Zijl Loots
In my humble opinion, Van Zijl Loots is a nutcase and an idiot. He’s probably the sort of person that would feed a newborn baby soya milk and apple juice.
The figures that are mentioned in this letter appear to be nothing more than sensationalist propaganda. Granted, it’s estimated that ~70% of the world’s water is used for agricultural purposes (source), but it’s probably mainly irrigation. We need that water to grow the kilogram of wheat. Cows just eat grass, which grows naturally. Wheat doesn’t grow naturally in a lot of places, it needs that irrigation. I haven’t researched the stated water consumption figures myself, but they do seem grossly exaggerated to me.
Another argument to consider is land usage and diet, and how they relate to each other. Take a drive through the Free State and you’ll see mielie fields as far as the eye can see. Now, consider the possibility of the entire population of South Africa going vegan. You’re going to need a whole lot more mielie fields to feed everyone, and considering that you get more energy out of meat than out of plants, you may not have enough room (especially if you live in a country like ours and bring land redistribution into the equation). It’s the same reason why more cars don’t run on renewable energy sources such as ethanol (as seen in The Amazing Race a few weeks back); greedy oil companies aside, there’s just not enough room to grow all that sugar cane and feed everyone on this planet at the same time.
And as far as this nutcase’s extreme beliefs go – if someone wants to eat meat, tough. Get over it.