Many people have chosen to become vegetarian or vegan because they think that being so will save animal lives. What they fail to understand is that nature is a constant cycle of birth and death. If humans don’t kill a certain animal, something else will. It’s always been this way and we’re not going to change that no matter how many protests have or cute Disney movies we make.
Growing Fruits & Vegetables Requires Killing as many as 100 Animals per Acre
There’s a lot of little critters in one acre of land. There’s mice, rabbits, moles, gophers, birds, deer, and more. If you think suburban sprawl is disruptive to wildlife, then you’ve never been in a cornfield. When a farmer decides to clear cut an acre of forest or till up an acre of pasture, he’s disturbing and displacing the animals that heretofore called that land home. The bigger the farm, the more acres are disturbed.
Most of the fruit and vegetables a vegetarian eats, comes from mega farms. These farms raise the vegetables in giant monocultures, where only one type of plant is grown on tens or hundreds of acres. Everyone is familiar with the sight of a cornfield, where hundreds of acres are planted with nothing but corn as far as the eye can see.
When you think of your everyday vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, or celery. You think of a nice little garden where tomatoes are growing next to carrots, next to lettuce, next to potatoes, etc. This is not the case. The lettuce you bought at the supermarket was grown next to acres and acres of the exact same lettuce.
When farmers grow crops in monocultures like this. It invites pests. This is why farmers have to use pesticides. When you have a bug or animal that likes squash plants, it will thrive in a field full of squash plants. Deer love vegetables like corn or lettuce, that makes them a pest. Pests must be eliminated.
A farmer growing vegetables has to rid every acre of pests including mice, rabbits, deer, moles, raccoons, the list goes on. These animals are trapped, poisoned, shot, or eliminated by whatever means necessary. All this death is a waste. The animals are disposed of like so much trash, or left out for the vultures to eat. Many herbicides warn to stay out of the field for at least three days. That’s some toxic stuff. But what about the wild animals? They can’t read.
Organic Still has Pests
Organic farms are no exception when it comes to pests. Of course, being organic they don’t spray conventional pesticides. They have their own organic certified biodegradable poisons. These sprays still kill insects indiscriminately. They kill the good bug along with the bad ones. Oops.
Being organic means they do not use conventional poisons. Except for self contained bait traps for pests. Those can contain whatever kind of poison they want as long as no poison comes in contact with any plants or soil. A dead pest is a good pest, right?
I’m sure there are farms who are committed to trapping and relocating pests. However, this is more expensive and not as effective as killing the animals. They may come back. And even if they don’t, now they’re just someone else’s problem. And that person may have no reservations on killing these new pests.
Raising Animals on Pasture doesn’t Require Killing Hundreds of Animals
When a farmer raises animals on pasture, they do not need to dramatically disturb the natural ecosystem. In fact, proper pasture raising is right in line with nature. It follows the example that nature has set out for us.
Pasture based farms are not tilling up the soil. Tilling interrupts the balance of natural bacteria, fungus, and other critters. Critters that are necessary for making the soil fertile. They’re not blocking off hundreds of acres that would normally have mice, rabbits, moles, etc. living on it.
A pasture based farm doesn’t worry about mice, rabbits, or moles disturbing the livestock. They can coexist just fine. All they ask is that the critters don’t get into the feed bins. It’s not unusual to see deer eating grass next to the cows. That’s fine, they’re happy to share. Deer aren’t the enemy when you’re raising meat.
A Vegetarian Earth is not Sustainable.
If everyone on earth stopped eating meat, there would be a huge shift in agriculture. Not all ranch land can be converted to cropland. Arid climates can sustain pasture, but crops require more water. Irrigation is expensive and not sustainable in these climates. The Colorado river is nearly dry, thanks in part to agriculture.
Livestock populations would plummet. With no viable income streams, most ranchers would get out of the business. The only livestock remaining would be in zoos and nature preserves. Organic farming would suffer as a result. The majority of organic fertilizer is manure. Without livestock to produce this manure, the only fertilizer left is going to be expensive or synthetic. But of course, synthetic is not allowed in organic. At least not yet.
The increase in man made fertilizer will lead to even more agricultural run off. We already have a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey Runoff from farms in the Midwest flow into the Mississippi river and dump out into the gulf. This has depleted oxygen and caused algal blooms.[2, 3] This renders the water inhospitable, killing millions of fish.
The marginal increase in cropland would not sustain the developed countries. We would have to import more food to make up for the loss of meat. More food would have to travel further to get to the consumer.
Don’t let the bleeding hearts guilt you into giving up meat. Meat, properly raised, is very humane. Seek out local farms who raise their animals on pasture. Who treat them like the animal they are. Not some cog in a giant industrial machine, able to be manipulated like some raw material. Pasture raised meat is more humane than vegetarianism. Period.
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, 2016