Help protect... biodiversity
No one really knows just how many species there are on Earth. Estimates range from 2 million to 100 million, but most experts opt for a best estimate of about 10 million. Of these, only 1.4 million have been named and only a small percentage of these have been studied in any detail.10
‘Livestock account for about 20 percent of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the land area they now occupy was once habitat for wildlife.’13
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of threatened species shows that 18 per cent of all of the vertebrates they assessed in 2002 were threatened with extinction. This included 24 per cent of mammals and 30 per cent of fish. 49 per cent of plants assessed in 2002 were threatened with extinction.11 It has been estimated that the current rate of species loss is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than it would be naturally.12
Statistics such as these have led many environmental scientists to believe that we are in the process of a mass extinction. This loss of genetic diversity will have serious consequences for food production and environmental sustainability.
How your diet can help
Habitat destruction is the single greatest factor in species being lost for ever. Deforestation, land degradation and intensive arable farming all represent thedestruction of ecosystems, resulting in massive loss of biodiversity.
A report commissioned by the FAO, USAID, and the World Bank concluded that industrial livestock production contributes to species loss through “its demand for concentrate feed, which changes land use and intensifies cropping. The production of feed grains, in particular, adds additional stress on biodiversity through habitat loss and it damages in ecosystem functioning.”14
Tropical rainforests, although covering only 10 per cent of the world’s surface, are thought to contain about 90 per cent of all species – many of which have never been studied.15 The wholesale destruction of forest environments to provide grazing land for cattle and to grow feed for livestock contributes direct to loss of biodiversity. Other factors affecting species depletion include pollution, climate change and invasion by introduced species. All these factors relate direct to livestock production.
They said it...
“Livestock play an important role in the current biodiversity crisis, as they contribute directly or indirectly to all these drivers of biodiversity loss at the local and global level.”16 (United Nations FAO Report 2006)
Switching to a vegan diet will help to maintain biodiversity.