Burning for Burgers: Amazon Rainforest Set Ablaze for Cheap Meat
The Amazon Rainforest has been hit by a wave of fires which damaged and destroyed over two million acres of forested land. The Amazon is home to over 70,000 animal species ranging from ants and frogs to jaguars and monkeys. Many of them are critically endangered and their chances of survival are further diminished due to these extensive fires.
One aspect of this catastrophe that’s rarely touched on is the role of commercial animal agriculture. The Amazon’s fires are closely linked to deforestation. When fires are set to clear land, they often get out of control and spread quickly. A full 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon is for cattle grazing, and the recent wave of fires followed changes in the Brazilian government’s policies which encouraged cattle ranching expansion.
Forests are also destroyed to produce crops, like soybeans, which are fed to cattle. Much of these crops are grown on land previously used for cattle grazing. After ranchland is worn down from grazing, it is often sold to soy producers. Ranchers then go on to burn more forest for grazing. The demand for soy to feed livestock and the demand for land to grow soy creates an endless cycle which leads to more destruction and fires.
Climate change is also a factor. While the fires aren’t caused by climate change, the warmer, drier weather it fosters allows fires to spread faster. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, accounting for over half of the world’s heating-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. We must also acknowledge unsustainable population growth as an underlying driver of all of these issues. As the human population increases, so does the global demand for meat, palm oil, sugar, hardwood, coffee beans etc., all of which cause deforestation and contribute to climate change.
The Amazon is one of the planet’s most precious natural treasures. In addition to being home for countless animals, it produces more than 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe and contains plant species which cure humanity’s deadliest ailments and illnesses. We risk losing these treasures if steps aren’t immediately taken to curb the threats facing it, namely the expansion of cattle grazing and the beef industry.
What You Can Do
1. We can all help reduce deforestation and fire destruction in the Amazon by leaving beef off of our plates and shifting to a plant-based diet. Learn how to begin by downloading our free Veg Starter Guide today: www.idausa.org/VegGuide
2. Send our letter to Deputy Rodrigo Maia, President of the Chamber of Deputies and Senator Davi Alcolumbre, President of the Federal Senate, by filling out the form on our alert.