Avoiding harm to animals is a big factor behind the lifestyle choices of many vegans. But this could actually be harming animals, according to some.
In his article, titled The Vegan Confusion, naturalist Claudio Bertonatti argues that vegans kill animals by eating rice, grains and vegetables.
Vegans (and vegetarians) promote a culture where vegetables and grains are protected at the expense of animals, according to Bertonatti, through deforestation to make more room for crops, and poisoning and shooting animals to keep them away.
In Argentina, I encounter many people who claim to be defenders of nature because they don’t eat meat or wear leather. They think that by being vegan or vegetarian they’re preventing animals from dying. It’s not true.
Dr Christian Dunn, environment and agriculture scientist, says that if you care about biodiversity and the environment, being vegan is not necessarily the best way forward.
If you want any particular crop to grow effectively, then yes – you’re going to have to kill or remove certain pests: both animals and plants. So it could be argued that vegans are causing the death of animals by requiring monocultures of wheat or other grains to be grown.
Dunn says cutting out all animal produce isn’t the best way to help wildlife.
If you’re fortunate enough and wealthy enough to be able to be selective about your diet then instead of cutting out all animal products, go for organic products – or better still buy directly from producers and farmers which incorporate and follow good environmental practises.
Choose those which treat animals well, enhance biodiversity, protect our soils, keep our waters clean and benefit the local community as a whole.
But George Monbiot, a writer known for his environmental activism, disagrees, and recently converted to veganism (minus roadkill, when he finds it). He told indy100:
Of course every form of food production kills some animals. But if you eat animal products, you are responsible for far greater losses, because the animals are largely fed on arable crops, with much poorer conversion efficiencies than you get when you eat the crops yourself.
In other words, meat contains a lot more grain than grain does. This is why I say that if you want to eat less soya, eat soya: you consume far less of it (96% according to one analysis) if you eat it directly.