Vegans are often accused of destroying the rainforest with their soy consumption. But vegan products are mostly made from regional soy, the rainforest soy is mainly found in pet food.
The soybean industry is booming. Global soybean production has more than doubled since 1997.
This is due to the growing demand for feed for the production of meat and dairy products.
This rapid expansion threatens some of the most biodiverse habitats on earth, including the Amazon rainforest, the Cerrado, and the Gran Chaco in South America, which drives the climate crisis and is at the expense of public health.
In 2017, according to a Greenpeace report, 48% of soy was produced worldwide in Brazil and Argentina alone, with 95% genetically modified, resulting in high levels of herbicides and other dangerous chemicals.
After China, the EU is the second-largest soy importer in the world with around 33 million imported soy products, and 87.4% of the soy imported by the EU is used for animal feed.
The production of animal products in the EU is today concentrated in a few countries.
For example, Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom together produce 54% of cattle, 50% of pigs, and 54% of sheep and goats in the EU.
While part of the meat and milk production is exported to countries outside the EU, the largest part serves the excessive appetite for meat and milk products: the average citizen in Western Europe consumes 85 kg meat and 260 kg milk products per year, more than twice as much the global average.
An estimated 87% of imported soy is used for animal feed, almost 50% of it for chickens (broilers for meat and egg-laying chickens), followed by pigs (24%), dairy cows (16%) and beef cattle (7%).
The rest (4%) is used for farmed fish and for the production of other meats.
Almost three-quarters of the EU’s agricultural land is used to feed farm animals – not humans.
The increasing use of soy as animal feed is strongly linked to the increase in factory farming.
The system of industrial meat and milk production depends on the availability of large amounts of protein-rich feed.
The main trends in the European livestock sector are a) growth in milk, pork, and poultry production, and b) an increasing concentration of this production on fewer, larger, and more intensive companies.
This goes hand in hand with a corresponding increase in the demand for concentrated feed, mainly from soy and grain, and the use of antibiotics.
The high meat and milk consumption give rise to serious public health concerns.
The World Health Organization (WHO), World Cancer Research Fund, and numerous other health organizations and scientists have warned that our current meat consumption increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The global food system – especially the production of meat and dairy products – is a strong driver for both deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.
Agricultural emissions, including deforestation and land-use changes, account for almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Soy, which is mainly used as animal feed, has accounted for almost half of the deforestation associated with imports in the past.
But EU agricultural policy supports this meat and milk-based nutrition system, which scientists warn of.
In addition, animal husbandry – the livestock themselves and feed production – drives forest destruction significantly and accounts for around 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
My comment: Mass meat production for almost 8 billion people can no longer be sustained; at least not without massive animal suffering, climate crisis, and pandemics.
It is time to leave the Stone Age and stop producing animal suffering and climate destruction.
Instead of moving from pandemic to pandemic and producing multi-resistant germs, we should take advantage of the possibilities of the 21st century: The final exit from industrial livestock farming !!
When will we learn from our mistakes?
We are the only animal species that cannot.
My best regards to all, Venus