From the Desk of Dr. Ashok Nagella: Feed the Children this Holiday Season

Holidays are a time to spend in peace with our loved ones. It is also a time for giving and helping those who need it most.

The unfortunate reality is that 925 million people in this world do not have enough to eat. Sadly 2.6 million children will die of starvation annually. One child will die every 12 seconds from starvation at this current rate according to current statistics.

Is there anything we can do about this tragic situation? Fortunately, there is!

We can reduce the amount of animal products we consume. Many third and fourth world nations export meat and dairy products to the U.S. and other Western countries while much of their population starves. Why? It is because it is very profitable for these countries to raise and export animal products while being less concerned with feeding their population.  This happened during the famine that occurred in the 1980’s in Ethiopia. More food was being exported than imported during that crisis. Of course, infrastructure affects how food is distributed also.

Much of the grains and soy that we feed these livestock can instead be fed to those that are malnourished. The U.S. is not immune to starvation either. It is estimated that 15 million children in the U.S. are malnourished.

In fact, 40% of corn and 67% of soy in the U.S. alone is fed to farmed and bred animals instead of people.

If we want to help eliminate hunger, it is estimated that we each need to reduce the amount of animal products we consume by at least 15 % of our daily calories to free up enough grains, soy, corn, etc. to feed larger populations (0 % animal products being ideal). There are other factors that impact global access to food including political and economic factors but the one action we can all take that will have a huge, direct impact is changing what we eat daily.

To put it in further perspective, it takes 13 pounds of grain to feed livestock in order to produce only 1 pound of meat.

Let’s give the greatest gift of nourishment and health to those who need it most this Holiday season!

Wonderful and delicious meat substitutes that many are trying nowadays are Field Roast, Tofurkey, Beyond Meat, Boca, and Gardein to name just a few companies. To learn about the health benefits of plant- based diets, please look at PCRM.org. My hope is we continue eating this way beyond the Holidays as this diet also helps our planet, preserves and conserves resources, mitigates climate change, helps save billions of farm animals from unnecessary pain and cruelty, and reduces health care costs.

Thank you for your attention and for caring. Let’s also remember that altruism is one of the most important ways to fight depression and anxiety.

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Dr. Ashok Nagella, Psychiatrist at Erie West Town

Do you have more questions about a plant-based diet? Read Dr. Nagella’s addendum to the article here.

Learn more about the four food groups and the benefits of a plant-based diet.

The views and ideas in this article are those of Dr. Nagella do not necessarily represent Erie Family Health Center, its Behavioral Health Department or Erie staff.

References for the above article can be found here.