“If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer”

The answer to saving the world is not veganism

The vegan diet has probably never been more popular than it is today. In a recent The Guardian article, farmer and author Isabella Tree discusses the effect of influential documentaries such as What the Health and Cowspiracy. These documentaries have thrown a spotlight on the meat and dairy industries, and convinced many people that cutting meat and dairy out of their diet equals a big favor to the planet and the environment.

However, what these documentaries fail to portray are the environmental consequences of the vegan diet. So, what exactly happens to our environment when switching entirely to plant-based foods?

If more people continue to turn to veganism, there will obviously be a need for more plants and less meat. This may lead to soil degradation, and soil loss is a major issue facing the world today, as Isabella Tree explains:

Our ecology evolved with large herbivores – with free-roaming herds of aurochs (the ancestral cow), tarpan (the original horse), elk, bear, bison, red deer, roe deer, wild boar and millions of beavers. They are species whose interactions with the environment sustain and promote life. Using herbivores as part of the farming cycle can go a long way towards making agriculture sustainable.

Somewhere along the way in many media storms, we have forgotten what we actually already know. In order to grow nutritious vegetables, the soil where they grow needs to be nutrient rich, and today, most are not.

The solution that Isabella Tree suggests? Back to basics. We should be encouraging sustainable meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. We need to restore our soils by letting animals graze the earth. The way they graze, puddle and trample stimulates vegetation in different ways, creating habitats for small mammals and birds. When we don’t feed the animals antibiotics and other drugs, their dung feeds the soil ecosystem – a vital process of ecosystem restoration where nutrients and structure are returned to the soil.

The Guardian: If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer

Earlier

‘Eat less meat’ fails to recognize that all meat is not created equal

‘What the Health’ review: health claims backed by no solid evidence

Why the fear of meat?

Where does the fear of meat come from originally? Learn more in our interview with Nina Teicholz:

Can Red Meat Kill You? – Nina Teicholz

 

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78 comments

  1. D
    Total garbage when it comes to an article and definitely smells of government propaganda as there are no negative effects from being vegan. It's the perfect lifestyle and not diet, as it's not a diet, for saving people, animal and environment.
  2. Simon Phillipson
    We will take the land we are using to grow animal feed. Less animals equals less gmo corn for feed. Means we use that land to grow food for humans. Plus we gain back the land for grazing animals. What a ridiculous argument.
  3. D
    GMO foods are the worse to ever have been created and this statement is a ball of contradiction and confusion. Make some sense out of what you want before you say something like the above sentence
  4. D
    Meat will never be sustainable or healthy for consumption.
  5. Mateusz Midura
    We have two solutions already widely used in cannibis cultivation for many years: Hydroponics and aeroponics.

    These grow plants faster and more efficiently without soil and can easily be built in vertical farms with ideal lighting conditions for each crop.

    That along with protection from insects reducing the need for pesidides or fertilizer.

    These can allow for cities to grow food locally and reduce the energy coat of transportation.

  6. Brian
    LOL. Who reallly wrote this? Y'all gonna send some cattle out there on the cornfields to graze and crap on the soil? Or maybe start growing crops on ranch land in the arid western US? What a joke.
  7. Adam
    The Nina Teicholz link says it all. She is a professional industry lobbyist. These people make specious arguments for a paycheck. No need to eat animals to use them to promote healthy soil. 10 billion humans could be fed from the corn and soy used for cow feed alone. No animals required.
  8. VeganxGhost
    Is there any actual scientific facts to back this up or is this just some theory that isn't been studied. Do you know what would happen if everyone went vegan? Animals would roam more free and less chemicals pumped into them if they we were all vegan. What about places that have a population that is entirely dependent on vegetable crops, and they are healthier then us and lover longer oh and their crops are still growing? Another good one and my final whoever was the idiot that wrote this article clearly knows nothing about how to rotate your crops so that you can keep your soil furtile, a trick native Americans taught us when we came to America.
  9. 1 comment removed
  10. Michael
    What part of animals eating our food and drinking our water makes sense!? There is no need to murder animals in order for humans to survive.
  11. Barb
    Soil can be made richer by rotating crops as my local farm does. No murder or cruelty involved
  12. Hillary
    I would encourage all who doubt this article to watch Food Inc or read Omnivores dilemma. This is not “propaganda” this is utilizing what we know about ecology and nature to develop sustainable agriculture. Large scale animal production is a huge harm to both human health and the environment , no one can argue that and if they do they are ill informed. But if we go back to the less industrial system where pasture and mixed plant farms live in balance and harmony it can actually rebuild natures natural cycles and even IMPROVE soil health. It’s a backwards industry that ruins things, not the animals themselves. If you doubt me, read or watch the above mentioned and come back before arguing my point.
    Replies: #17, #53
  13. Ellie
    Livestock production is the absolute biggest force of soil and water degradation on the planet. The writer of this article heard something about fertilizing with manuer and jumped straight to the wrong conclusion.
  14. Mal
    LOL to this article.
  15. MeTheVegan
    I was curious abou this article, so ignorantly, I clicked. The information in this "article" is completely fabricated. Jus look up the amount of grain the US produces, and you will clearly see that a majority of it goes to feeding cattle and animals for slaughter. Take away the animal consumption, and you are left with enough grain to feed nearly entire world. Then there is crop rotations, as someone else mentioned. And the amout of methane from animal use, which put weighs all the cars pit together.
    Clearly this "article" is propaganda and shpuld be treated and mentally digested as such.
  16. James bond
    Guys guys...we just have to EAT LESS...like 1 meal or 2 a day ..not 5 or 6. Meat or plants its not sustaianble to eat that much. ...EAT LESS..
  17. Mtv
    So, tell us how to do that without using even more land (and rain forests), or without 3/4 of the people in the world becoming Vegan so the rest could eat meat without worry of the environment.
  18. Mike
  19. Marcia
    Thoroughly false information in this article , i.e., propaganda from meat and milk producers, trying their best to lure people back to the unhealthy meat and milk consuming habits.
    Completely false information in this article!
    You must be assuming meat eaters are non-thinking, and ignorant...sorry, but more and more well-informed humans are making the intelligent choice...going vegan...and becoming healthier!!!
  20. CAROL MORIN
    OK, this article is not taking into account what the huge cattle, pork, chicken & dairy industries have been doing for many decades; producing an abnormal quantity of more animals that normally wouldn't have existed! Before that, people are from what was produced locally.
  21. 1 comment removed
  22. Susan E Runyon
    The article did not say feedlot animals. Poke a hole plant a seed. Please do not till. Tilling reduces water retention and air in the soil. It kills soil life. I had a farm with red clay soil. With the horses, goats and free range chickens, my pest cycle was extremely low, my soil was black in some places and my fruit trees and wild foods became more abundant. Diversity wild and domestic flora and fauna is critical to soil health.

    If you are comitted to being a vega, please at least grow some of your own food.

  23. Ali Eichenberg
    Straight up idiotic
  24. Kathleen Murphy
    I skimmed this article....even though there is an error in its title. Veganism is not a "diet"....not at all. That being said, I'll never go back to eating meat or dairy. I'm very happy & healthy.....and it definitely benefits the environment & would also help feed all those starving people worldwide.
  25. DanC.
    It is not for the environment but for my health. My health has improved but the environment continues to decline from the actions of those whose greed drives their behavior. And this goes far beyond the use of animals for food.
  26. Don
    Sad that the vegan proponents are not aware that soils devasted by crop farming are now being reclaimed by grazing ruminants. Tons of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides is the only way to sustain crop farming since it continually robs the soil. One only need remember the dust bowl years which occurred after a relatively short period of crop farming versus tens of thousands of years of free roaming ruminants sustaining the great grasslands of the world.
  27. Shanks
    Most people would read this dumb article and use it as an exceuse to support what they are doing.
  28. Susan
    The cold hard truth is for you to eat, something must die. Even if you are vegan. Unfortunately, the majority of vegans are safely ensconced in their urban habitat and have no real hands on knowledge about the agriculture realities of producing foods.
  29. Lisa
    We grow all of our crops right now to feed animals that we don't need. If we stopped eating the animals we would need a lot less crops. Read, 74 billion animals are slaughtered for food every year. There are seven point six billion people on the planet. If we weren't feeding 74 billion animals and instead were feuding 7.6 billion people we would be using a lot less soil. I have seen anti vegan propaganda but this is a whole new level of ridiculous
  30. Gerald Landry
    Self-Propelled Ruminants nourished by the Sunshine, Rainfall, Grassland Cycle Vs Pharm Tractors! Now let's backtrack to the Iron Mine, Steel Mill, Foundry onto Machine manufacturering for Pharm Tractors! Now let's backtrack to an Oil Well, Pipeline, Petro-Chemical Refinery for motive fuels. End of discussion. Dairy cows in my part of the world with SiX months of snow survive on HaY! What are the Full Cycle Costs 4 a Vegan Diet. Ship loads of bananas, plane loads of winter asparagus from Peru! Nutritious root vegetables thrive in Clay soils and store well in Root Cellars.
    The Vegan New World Order is a fallacy, relying on Industrial inputs, mined fertilizer, Hydrocarbons pumped from the belly of the earth, metal machinery etc.
  31. Dan
    This article fails to discuss the benefits of crop rotation and the use of cover crops to create healthy soil without the use of farm animals. Having an urban garden, I researched and came upon these concepts because I wanted to avoid the use of chemicals or animal derived fertilizers. The author would have discovered that these concepts are being used on large scale farms instead of providing an uninformed viewpoint.
  32. Emily
    Humans are the only species where adults drink the milk of another species. Then the calves are deprived of the nutrients they need because they don't get to drink their own mother's milk. Everyone wants to be free to live their lives, including animals. Animals that live on farms are not free to roam and take care of their young in a healthy manner.
  33. Deb Lovejoy
    I agree with what everyone wrote.
    If you look at this article on the flip side it's a huge Positive,cas people are now being threatened by veganism and want to make it look bad and it's impossible to do. The people that profit from the killing of animals and the harm to the environment need to look for viable solutions to see how they can make this world a better place to live🌎
  34. Emma
    This is some of the most government propaganda garbage I've ever seen. And for the record most vegans are vegan because they have compassion for the animals. This diet may not be perfect but I will never eat an innocent being. Ever.
  35. 1 comment removed
  36. Yolanda Quimby
    Right!
    If this article is soooooooo true, please tell me why if I follow a high raw vegan lifestyle I don't need the medications I take. But, when I follow the SAD lifestyle I have to take round the clock medications! I currently must take 7 different meds through the day,not including the medications I need due to constipation caused by having to take the medicine!
    The other downfalls to taking the BIG PHARMA drugs is massive hair loss ! Since I am female with no desire to shave my head,this causes great distress!!
  37. Scott Shepard
    Eating meat was essential for homo sapiens to grow their brains. Cooking it made the nutrients even more readily available. Humans are omnivores. Children raised vegan have all sorts of health and mental deficiencies.

    Meat is normal and healthy. The vegan comments (murdering animals) reveal that this is not based on science or reason. It's emotional and philosophical; a religion based on smugness and ego

  38. Lisa Wagner
    Cows graze on land, not on gmo corn. Horses graze on grasslands. They leave manure which enriches the soil which grows more plants and trees which provide oxygen for you to breathe. Frogs and birds and earthworms and bees and butterflies increase and you get richer soil and pollination of more plants. Rains come and soils do not wash away because of the plants and trees. Farmers work in harmony with their animals. Sheep provide wool and feta cheese and milk. Chickens provide eggs and eat worms and bugs. Chickens and the other animals are protected at night by Farmers. It is still this way on small farms all over the world.
  39. Karl
    nope, nothing wrong with being a vegan, nothing wrong with meat, fish and dairy. What is wrong is highly treated animals and soil. Roaming grazing, no antibiotics, no crowding, no GRAIN and on and on. It is about better treatment of the soil for more nutritious food, both plant and animal. I heard this podcast from an economic site. Basically says the same, they got rid of cows and the weeds overrun, soil loses nutrients and more carbon overall is produced. I found interesting in this article less methane with cows on a grass diet, kinda makes sense not stuffing them with grains to fatten them. anyway here is the link. EconTalk - Russ Roberts
    http://www.econtalk.org/moises-velasquez-manoff-on-cows-carbon-farmin...
  40. Lisa Wagner
    Veganism is a diet, but people have made it into a religion. There is only one true religion and it comes from Jesus Christ. That said, I eat only vegetable and plant fats because I feel better physically. Meat makes my back hurt. Maybe it's the histamines. I also do not eat legumes or grains. I do not eat processed substitute foods. I just eat plants, olives, coconut, nuts, avocados, those same oils, etc. My husband eats mostly animal protein because he reacts to other foods and so his health requires it. If you cannot eat animal protein for health reasons then there is probably something wrong with your gut bacteria (sibo) or your intestinal system or you are sensitive to the animal histamines.
  41. Tarinny
    Your obviously wrong totally fabricated biased article...vegan for life
  42. 1 comment removed
  43. Nico
    Low fat, whole food, plant based diet solve the human health, animal and planet problem.

    Why do people publish article that promotes destructive industry?

  44. Sheila Nix
    Does anyone really think everyone on the planet will become vegan? I say we worry about the effects of veganisn on the planet when there is a problem.
  45. Anthony
    Well first, veganism doesn't need to be the answer to saving the world anymore than avoiding child labor has to be the answer to saving the world. It's a moral proposition outside of its environmental effects.

    Second, your claims go against every study on the subject that find a vegan diet would support far, far more humans than the current American diet.

  46. Cassandra
    We seem to only find one way of communicating nowadays with something we disagree with.
    We put each other down. Anger towards each other breeds more anger and more anger and more anger.
    Please can't we stop this downward spiral?
  47. Cha T
    So you want more sustainable products? Then wouldn’t going vegan promote animals to roam free?
  48. Ron
    We'll need to grow more plants? Umm... Wrong.. half of all grain goes to feeding animals who need to consume much more than humans seeing as how 15lbs of grain is required for 1lb of meat.

    All the harm of growing plants would be greatly reduced--not increased.

  49. Andrew Tuttle
    Instead of flushing our shit into the ocean we should be using it to build soil. Duh
  50. Cassieoz
    Just watched an interesting interview on YouTube between Ken Berry and Dr Peter Ballerstedt on some of the common misconceptions and inaccuracies spoken about ruminant agriculture. NOTHING will budge the vegan true believers but people interested in understanding both sides of the discussion might find it helpful
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