Argentina is the world's third largest exporter of beef, behind Brazil and Australia. First introduced in 1503 by Spanish Conquistadors, cattle now numbers between 50-55 million heads, mainly in the fertile Pampas lowlands. Uniquely rich in flora and fauna, this once verdant land is now overrun with an intrusive species that has damaged the immediate environment and is steadily imperiling the world's ecology as well.
According to the University of California at Berkeley, "Few natural prairie regions remain because most have been turned into farms or grazing land." The Inter Press Service news agency reports that this is the case in the Pampas, where livestock farming has decimated the native plant population. According to IPS, in many parts of the Pampas, native flora can only be found growing along roads and train tracks.
Animal agriculture does not only affect forests, flora, and fauna, but actually serves to exacerbate the dire environmental destruction happening worldwide. Livestock grazing has exploded so staggeringly that it now occupies a quarter of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet. According to the UN, livestock has degraded approximately 1/5 of the world's pastures and rangelands, and as much as ¾ in particularly dry areas. Extensive grazing leads to soil compaction and erosion, which releases carbon stored in the soil into the atmosphere. Furthermore, as the desire for meat continues and livestock production spreads, we are undermining the very biodiversity of the flora and fauna that we need more than ever to cope with increasing climate change. Livestock now comprises 88%, by volume, of all wild and domesticated animals combined.
David Hamilton Wright, a biologist at the University of Georgia, once wrote that 'an alien ecologist observing...earth might conclude that cattle is the dominant species in our biosphere.
A recent World Bank study has calculated that this unnatural mass of global livestock produces 51% of the worlds GHG emissions, making meat consumption the primary cause of global warming and climate change (includes deforestation, enteric fermentation, land use, production, and transportation). Methane, which is the most immediately potent GHG with a global warming potential of almost 100 times more than a ton of CO2 (within its first 5 years in the atmosphere), is overwhelming caused by enteric fermentation, the biological unavoidable process of livestock digesting and evacuating their (our) food. This also means that (enteric) methane is one of the few sources of global methane that can be easily reduced, and have an immediate impact on the wellbeing of our environment. Accumulation in the atmosphere requires only slowing emissions by 15-20% for the worlds methane concentration to stabilize, which seems to give a great incentive to eat Soul Vegan.
90% of the methane ruminants produce comes out their other end, through their mouths and noses. Anna Lappe, Diet for a Hot Planet X