This is the second in a series of articles written by my good friend and veganic farmer, Jimmy Videle. He has much to teach us about the farming practices associated with and the benefits of eating a whole food, plant based diet. Enjoy!
This Meal or That Meal? Beans & Rice vs. Red Meat
In my travels around the world over the last five years I discovered an interesting constant. In North America most meals are centered around a piece of nonhuman animal flesh. In other countries, namely Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia meals are centered around rice with some sort of bean. Beans of choice are black beans in Latin America, soybeans in Asia, lentils or chickpeas in Malaysia including the Indian communities in said Asian countries.
The world over there is a great debate in governmental nutrition panels concerning eating more sustainably which would most certainly include a more plant-based diet. The powerful meat industry is claiming that one’s choice of eating should not be based on sustainability, but rather on nutrition and culture. As a citizen concerned about the welfare of the planet, the need to provide affordable food for our families as well as the ethics of our personal choices, I think all things should be considered. So, here goes:
|Product||Dried/Raw Portion Size||Cooked portion size|
|Black Beans and Rice||2 ounces(57g) each||8 ounces(227g)|
|Ground Beef||10 ounces(284g)||8 ounces(227g)|
It is important to note that the beans when soaked and cooked and the rice when cooked both double in volume, whereas the ground beef loses 25% of its volume.
To this main course you could add anything else you wish to balance out the meal, like: corn tortillas, whole grain bread, cooked spinach, potatoes, carrot & cabbage salad..
Land Use and Average Yields per Acre:
|Item||Yield per Acre|
|Black Beans||1,200 lbs(545 kg)|
|Brown Rice||6,100 lbs(2770 kg)|
|Beef||25 lbs(12 kg) to 250 lbs(114 kg)|
Let’s do the math. For an average yield of beans & rice, the yield is 14.5 times more productive in pounds (kg) per acre than that of the best beef production yield per acre. These figures apply whether the beans, rice and beef are produced conventionally, organically or in the case of the beef, grass fed.
The Farmed Facts:
One acre of farmed land can feed:
1) 156 people an eight ounce (227g) portion of beef.
2) 14,600 people an eight ounce (227g) portion of beans & rice.
Simply put, for every 1 person fed a portion of beef, 93 people can be fed beans & rice.
Cost to the Consumer *Figures based on Average Prices
|Portion Size||Cost Per lb(454g)||4 ounces(114g)||10 ounces(283g)|
|Organic Beans and Rice||$2.00||$0.50|
|Organic Ground Beef||$8.00||$5.00|
|Conventionally Grown Beans & Rice||$1.00||$0.25|
|Conventionally Produced Beef||$4.00||$2.50|
Water Requirements per pound(454g) of farmed product:
|Product||Quantity||Water Use||Quantity||Water Use|
|Dried Rice and Beans||1lb (454g)||400 gallons(1538 L)||4 ounces(114g)||100 gallons (378 L)|
|Raw Ground Beef||1lb (454g)||1800 gallons (6804 L)||10 ounces(284g)||1085 gallons (4104 L)|
Ounce for Ounce, Beans and Rice:
1) Yield can be 14.5 times more per acre than beef.
2) Can feed 93 times more people than beef.
3) Are 1/10th the price of beef.
4) Requires 90% less water to produce than beef.
|Nutritional Facts||Black Beans and Rice 8 ounces(227grams)||Cooked Ground Beef 8 ounces(227grams)|
|Saturated Fat||2 %||77%|
|Vitamin B 12||0%||109%|
Beans & Rice are higher in Thiamin, Folate, Magnesium and Manganese.
Ground beef is higher in Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Zinc and Selenium.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a cutting edge whole food plant based doctor in the United States is making great strides in the studying how an animal based diet negatively impacts our heart health. His heart patient study shows that heart disease can be prevented, controlled and even reversed with a heart healthy diet consisting of high fiber, low fat whole food plant based eating. Eating this way eliminates most saturated fats, all cholesterol, all problematic animal protein and all highly processed plant oils. Simply stated, more fiber makes our blood flow better, decreasing greatly our risks of developing heart disease, a mostly North American disease of excess..
Protein is a current and common hot topic. The myth that adequate protein is scarce in a plant based diet does not give credit where credit is due. Plants contain plenty of protein to satisfy the human body’s need for on average 5-10% of its calories to come amino acids.
People worry more about protein in their diet than any other nutrient. All plants contain all of the amino acids in proper balance for ideal human growth. In other words, it is impossible to make up a diet deficient in protein or individual amino acids from any unrefined starches (rice, potatoes) and vegetables. You must get over this common myth. The only real problems with protein come from eating too much, usually the result of a diet high in animal foods. Dr John McDougall
ETHICS: The Meat of the Matter.
When you eat that 8 ounces (227g) of ground beef, 1 cow must be raised and killed, 1 acre of land must be used. There is no such a thing as raising half a cow, or a quarter cow, or an 8 ounce cow. Indirectly, many animals are displaced and wild animals who are viewed as a threat to the herd are driven off their homeland and killed to secure grazing lands, in order for your meal to magically appear in your grocery store.
When you eat that 8 ounces of cooked beans & rice, the amount of land needed to provide this meal is exactly 3 square feet (less than 1 square meter) of already established farmland. It is true that rodents and insects living on this land can be and are harmed, but to a significantly lesser degree than that of producing beef. Stockfree organic agriculture methods can reduce this loss even further, while striving to increase yields.
And what about the ethics of eating plants? Push back arguments declare that plants can feel pain as we and other species do. Plants do not have central nervous systems, thus they do not feel pain and suffering like human and non-human animals do.
If one is concerned about loss of life (including plants), it is a fact that more lives are lost when one eats an omnivore’s diet vs. a herbivore’s diet.
Human and non-human animals are ‘sentient’. Plants are not.
If we can feed more people, on less land, with fewer resources, with superlative nutritive value, without directly and purposely making animals suffer, shouldn’t we? Of course we should.
THE LAST REMAINING QUESTION IS:
What are you waiting for?
Annie’s Vegan View
On behalf of all species everywhere who are suffering incalculably in all of our death for profit industries, I echo the wise words of Jimmy: “What are you waiting for?”.
May all beings be happy and free.