I love animals. I always have and I always will. I don’t just love cute dogs and kittens, but I find all animals and the ecosystems they live in to be a treasured gift to planet earth. I even adore animals like lions and sharks, which brutally murder smaller creatures; their carnivorous ways are a part of the circle of life and I don’t love lions or sharks any less because of it! And yes, I will be an eternal fan of The Lion King. Simba and Nala were so cute together. Okay, Must. Stay. Focused. This girl is vulnerable to daydreaming of scenes from her favorite childhood movies.
What I don’t appreciate is how humans are interfering with the circle of life. This is simply getting out of hand. What troubles me the most is that almost all of us are uneducated about the true causes of animal endangerment and the leading factors responsible for the mass animal extinction crisis we are now facing.
Get this: livestock production is responsible for at least 22% of species listed as threatened or endangered!
While the population of cattle worldwide continues to grow beyond 1.3 billion (this is just cattle, not the entire population of factory farmed animals!), 5 million acres of rainforest are felled each year in South and Central America to create more room for them and our insatiable appetite for meat. Cattle ranching has wiped out more rainforest around the world than any other activity! What does this have to do with species endangerment? We are losing fragile ecosystems of the rainforest and ecosystems in the United States at an alarming rate largely because of our eagerness to consume animal products.
While carnivorous animals residing in the wild may need to consume other living creatures to sustain their lives, humans certainly do not. We live in very unnatural times. Over 99% of the meat Americans consume comes from factory farms in which the farm animals are tortured their whole short littl’ lives to such a degree that to ruminate about their suffering would leave most of us with a cloud of darkness over our heads larger than Eeyore’s from Winnie the Pooh. We aren’t killing animals as they frolic freely in a pasture or in the forest, living happily until a bullet (or arrow) seals their fate as our next meal. No, dear reader, they live their whole lives in windowless, tiny crates and wired cages, unable to move and be free. I’m sure many of you reading this are aware of these brutal conditions, but it is good to be reminded of how we treat these sentient animals just as it is important to be reminded of the mass animal extinction currently taking place on our planet.
These unnatural times of animal food production deserve our very natural empathy and attention. Being cool means being kind, ya know? All animals rock- the wild ones, the ones on factory farms, our pets, etc. Animals should be treated with compassion by humans who know better than to do harm to creatures that are fully capable of feeling pain.
I may care about my physical health and learning about the steps we can take to thrive and live happier as human beings, but I also care deeply about making the world a better place for the creatures we share it with. If we don’t need to torture animals, then why are we? Why are we continuing to contribute to the extinction and endangerment of unique and beautiful animals when we don’t need to? We now have all of the scientific evidence we need that animal products are not necessary to maintain ideal health and ward off diseases, so then why not create tasty meals without them?
I know we are smart. I know that we all have it in us to care and to make more compassionate eating choices. I think we just have to think about our actions a bit more and take the time to learn about how the food we are eating came to our plates.
Here are more facts for you on the connection between habitat and wildlife destruction and factory farming:
1) At least 100 animals are added to the endangered species list every year.
2) 70% of cleared forest in Panama and Costa Rica are now in pasture.
3) Overstocking and overgrazing of agricultural land by livestock leaves land depleted of all nutrients, which accelerates desertification. This is not exactly conducive to keeping wild animals alive!
4) At least 17,000 species are currently under threat of extinction and a quarter of all mammals face extinction within 30 years.
5) The mass extinction we are facing is 1000x higher than the average rate of extinction seen over the last 65 million years.
Another good fact to know: If Americans reduced their intake of meat by merely 10%, 100,000,000 people could be fed using the land, water and energy that would be freed up from growing livestock feed.
Sierra Club- http://www.sierraclub.org/grazing/livestock
World Perservation Foundation- http://www.worldpreservationfoundation.org/topic.php?cat=biodiversity#.UUtQEKWhBFI