Is our current infrastructure well-suited for plant-based diet of majority of population?

I am particulary interested in changes that would be required to our distribution, food production and the process of selling food, but also in other challenges this would pose, like avoiding vitamin B12 or D deficiency in general population.

1 Answer 1


Food production will have to gradually move from animal staple foods like corn and soy to a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains to feed humans a diversified diet. This will be gradual as we stop breeding so many animals and start using the fields for human feed instead of animal feed. Furthermore, it is expected that the actively farmed area will go down 2 to 7 times or so and either reclaimed by forest or left to rest and recover some top soil. More forest means better local climate (big forests create their own micro-climate) as well as global climate. More rested land and healthy top soil means better yields and less need to fertilizers, which means less water pollution.

Regarding distribution because meat is more densely packed in caloric terms it may seem that we spend more in carrying around water-filled vegetables. However, a switch to vegan means we can reclaim our cities landscapes and buy more from local and regional grown vegetables. Also, if not eating grass, animals will be given feed that had to be transported to the animal farm somehow. Even if the food source is close to the animal farm, there is still some distribution distance added to the delivery of the meat itself. All in all, there is great potential for a simplification of the distribution network if more people can grow/buy their food close to home.

I don't see much difference in how the food will be sold, since as of today there are already many fresh traditional markets that deal almost exclusively with vegetables and fruits.

Vitamins supplements will continue to raise in popularity. People will buy more fortified products like milks and breakfast cereals. I currently get my B12 from toothpaste which is apparently an efficient was to get it absorbed by the tongue (citation needed). Reminds me how some countries fixed some nutrient deficiency issues by regulating its addition to consumer products (like to prevent tooth decay and iodine deficiency). Encouraging the addition of B12 to toothpaste might be a solution, since many people have B12 deficiency despite eating meat due to absorption problems.

Disclaimer: I'm sorry if my answer sounds a bit too utopic but a gradual change to vegan lifestyles opens door to this possibility. If we walk thought that door or not is another subject. Industrial farming will still be cheaper and some people will prefer to buy the cheapest crap than the locally produced food stuff.

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    "meat is more densely packed in caloric terms" Do you have a source for this? On a cursory look, soy has nearly twice the caloric content of beef. Same with oats, wheat and other grains. Nuts seem to have well over double the calories of beef. Like I said, I've only had a quick look - would be good if you could support that claim :)
    – user116
    Feb 2, 2017 at 13:36
  • Can you clarify "better (...) global climate"? Do you mean it will counteract anthropogenic global warming? That depends where the reforestation occurs; in cold climates, forests make the land darker, absorb more sunlight than non-forests, and therefore make it warmer. Is is theorised that early human hunting of the big grazers in Siberia turned steppe into dense forest and heated the planet.
    – gerrit
    Feb 2, 2017 at 14:24
  • Might make the land warmer, but i guess it's a question os f global warming vs climate change. Warming might not be bad. Forests capture CO2 as they grow (their wood is made of the stuff) which helps undoing some of our gas emissions. Also, i don't think that very cold places suffer as much farming-caused deforestation as, say, Amazon.
    – ecc
    Feb 2, 2017 at 15:24

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