The Georgetown Environmental Law Review argues that animal agriculture is the most environmentally destructive of all industries.xlv That might surprise some people, but when we add up the increases in global warming attributable to the methane produced by the world’s cattle (about 15% of total methane production); the wholesale clearance of vast areas of forest and jungle, most notably in the Amazon Basin, to grow soy crops which are mostly fed to ‘meat’ animals, or to create grazing land for cattle;xlvi the colossal waste of fresh water; the loss of biodiversity, and the inevitable loss of a critical gene pool, as both plant and animal species are forced into extinction by habitat destruction; the pollution of river systems, aquifers and coastal seas caused by the enormous and concentrated amounts of manure produced by factory-farms; the wholesale use of pesticides and fertiliser needed to grow the grain the animals are fed; the destruction of marine life, for example, pelagic fish stocks on the Pacific south-east coast, which are used to feed pigs and farmed fish; the costs of transporting meat animals, alive or dead, great distances—we arrive at a staggering cost to the environment that is unmatched by even mining, transportation, or the energy sector.
Here is one example of what clear-felling bushland in Australia means. It is carried out in the main to create grazing land for animal agriculture. Remember, what you are about to read is just the tip of the global iceberg:
A (recent) report, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund found that tree-clearing in Queensland (Australia’s second largest state in area) kills about 34 million native animals a year! Of these, 900,000 are mammals such as koalas, quolls, bats, bandicoots, native rodents, possums and gliders. Added to this are the 2.6 million birds, such as cockatoos, and the 30.6 million reptiles, such as goannas, dragons, skinks and geckos. These animals will become extinct if these activities continue. xlvii
When you look at figures such as these, it is hard to understand how anybody who is concerned about preserving the natural environment can be anything but vegan when to be a meat eater means giving financial support to activities such as clearing natural bushlands or the myriad other environmental catastrophes associated with animal agriculture.