Meat, milk, and eggs produced by domestic animals have long represented important parts of the diets of many people. Conversion rates of the feed consumed by animals to human food are less than 100% due to losses during animal digestion and metabolism. This apparent inefficiency has led some to conclude that a reduction in the production and consumption of animal source foods would result in more food available for direct consumption by humans, and would thus help alleviate global problems of hunger and malnutrition. This view overlooks two important facts. First, much of the feed consumed by food-producing animals is not edible by humans and would not contribute to human food supply if not fed to animals. Second, animal source foods provide a safe, convenient, and palatable means of providing a number of essential nutrients, and the addition of such foods to diets composed primarily of cereals has well-documented nutritional benefits, especially for children. Also, demand for meat, milk, eggs, and fish is increasing rapidly in developing countries, a trend forecast to continue, and the production of animal source foods adds to the variety of human diets, providing a margin of safety from a nutritional perspective and adding to dietary variety.
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