Top 5 Ways Livestock are Wrecking the Planet


5. BIODIVERSITY SLAMMED BY LIVESTOCK A third of all mammal species are in danger of becoming extinct. A full 40% of the planet's mammals are victims of habitat loss and degradation. So reported the 2008 conference of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), a group that includes more than 1,000 government agencies and NGOs, conservation groups, and 11,000 scientists in 160 countries. And it's going to get a lot worse before the century is over. The causes of habitat loss and degradation? Livestock is a big one. Conservation International has identified 35 global hotspots for biodiversity, defined by species richness and high levels of habitat loss. Of those, 23 are affected by livestock production. Of 825 terrestrial eco-regions identified by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, 306 are threatened by livestock.

WANT TO HELP? Choose plant-based foods, and explain why to everyone you know. Average Americans eat between 216 and 246 lbs of meat per year, far more than residents of any other country. In the U.S., around 60% of our grain goes to livestock, a very inefficient use of our agricultural lands. Feeding the grain to people directly could feed up to 10 times more people than feeding the meat to people. Or, another way of looking at it—we could stop converting natural lands to agricultural lands if we made more efficient use of the farms we have now. What can you do? Simply eating less meat can help. Even a couple of meatless days a week will reduce your ecological footprint. Going vegetarian or vegan is even better. Check out the recipes and new vegan cookbooks reviewed on my site.

Sally Kneidel, PhD, is a biologist and author or co-author of 11 books about nature, science education, and sustainable living and dining. Find her at Veggie Revolution and

Image Credit: Sally Kneidel


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