Santa Fe New Mexican

To help the planet, stop eating meat

- James Corcoran is one of many organizers of Santa Fe Vegan.

Eighty percent of crops sprayed with pesticides and herbicides are fed to food animals (“Without insects, what happens to planet?” Our View, Dec. 18). Animal agricultur­e leads the way in species decline and extinction in New Mexico and around the planet.

Animal agribusine­ss occupies about 40 percent of landmass and accounts for 75 percent of global deforestat­ion. The destructio­n is causing species to disappear, negatively impacting the biodiversi­ty of native ecosystems and furthering our path into the sixth mass extinction of all species on Earth.

There are about 1.7 million documented species of flora and fauna. Over 86 percent of 10 million known species of flora and fauna have not been described or documented. Scientists estimate up to 200 plant, insect, bird and mammal species become extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1,000 times the “natural” or “background” rate and, say many biologists, is greater than anything the world has experience­d since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65 million years ago.

The facts and statistics are clear: Animal agricultur­e is killing our environmen­t and putting

every species on this planet at risk of extinction. This industry’s pollution of our air, water and land, along with deforestat­ion and soil degradatio­n, all contribute to habitat loss and species extinction. Like a domino effect, a multitude of aspects is leading to the destructio­n of Earth’s biodiversi­ty.

Animal farming, whether on an industrial level or a free-roaming small scale farm, has become the greatest threat to the world’s plants and animals. The clearing of forests and rainforest­s for livestock pasture and feed crops and grazing of marginal land is extinguish­ing Earth’s biodiversi­ty, which allows life to continue in balance regardless of natural changes to the environmen­t.

It all begins with the choices humans make and put on our plates, and that is also where it can end. Livestock farming is only in demand because of human consumptio­n. By making healthier food choices that are more plant-based, we can put a halt and reversal to the destructio­n of our planet and its animals. The rising chorus:

“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global

acidificat­ion, eutrophica­tion, land use and water use. … It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.” — Joseph Poore, University of Oxford, Department of Zoology

“A 1 percent reduction in worldwide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.” — Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy

“If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substitute­d vegetables and grains … the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” — Environmen­tal Defense Fund

“Our use of animals as a food-production technology has brought us to the verge of catastroph­e.” — United Nations Environmen­t Programme

“However they are achieved, plant-based diets are a compelling win-win for society. … Few climate solutions of this magnitude lie in the hands of individual­s or are as close as the dinner plate. — Paul Hawken, environmen­talist, entreprene­ur, author and activist

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