I’ve often joked with people who order soy instead of cow milk that they’re contributing to the decline of wildlife habitat. Believe it or not, I actually know a few vegans, and I even get along with them. But when they order soy, I’ll ask them, “Why do you hate wildlife?”
The reason I ask this is that most wildlife species don’t like soy fields, so every acre planted in soy is one fewer acre for wildlife habitat.
But over the weekend, I read a story that took that a few steps further. Steve Sorenson, writing for the Olean, New York, Times Herald, pointed out that the effects of raising vegetative food sources actually has a direct impact on animals, and that it’s a whole lot bigger than raising animals for meat. And he backs it up with science. He quotes Mike Archer, a University of New South Wales professor, as saying research has proven that growing non-meat, vegetarian food creates a great deal more cruelty to animals than does farming red meat. He goes on to say it kills at least 25 times more sentient animals per kilogram of usable protein.
How can this be? Well, consider how we farm plants. We don’t carefully step through the field, planting individual seeds, making sure all the mice, ground-nesting birds, baby deer, and other animals are out of the way. Nope, we roll through with tractors, hoping everything that can move will get out of the way.
But Archer didn’t stop there. He noted that harvesting animals through hunting brings down the total animal death toll even more, because hunters kill only one animal at a time, and that animal’s meat replaces the need for food harvested in other ways.
So let’s hear it for hunters. It turns out we kill fewer animals than vegetarians do.