opinion

OPINION: 'If you genuinely care about the Amazon rainforest fire, stop eating animals.'

The earth is burning, as we watch along on our smartphone screens. The symptoms are textbook. It’s a bona fide emergency. As our planet’s lungs cough, they spit confessions urging us to look back past the first spark that set the forest afire, because behind the match that set the Amazon ablaze is a very human hand.

Now, when we wake to doomsday images on a nearly daily basis we know that the planet isn’t simply dying; it is being killed. It’s a slow kind of violence that accumulates, like a thousand tiny cuts meted out over time. When we see photos that look like an apocalyptic polar opposite of Noah’s ark as animals of all kinds retreat and wish for water, like snakes desperately sliding across charcoal-black rainforest canopies, we are witnessing an environmental cancer spread like wildfire. Yet like the death of Cecil, the lion famously shot dead by a dentist and subsequently publicly mourned by the media, the blazes in the Amazon are a symptom of a much larger sickness.

They spell doom unless we learn how to care about them.

Here’s how much we waste in Australia. The results are staggering. Post continues below.

Video by MMC

Shocking statistics reveal how this happened; some 90 per cent of the land razed in the Amazon is done so to clear the way for cows. In this strange world, it’s no exaggeration to say that the air we breathe and stake our very survival on is slowly being eaten away by our ravenous hunger for animal products.

One small pocket of the planet, the Amazon rainforest, is responsible for producing up to a staggering 20 per cent of the entire Earth’s oxygen supply. Even though many of us were taught the essential role trees play in providing us with oxygen in primary school, others choose to enact or sponsor activities that indicate that such basic biology classes are being ignored.

 

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Though such numbers are cold to the touch of our fingers on our iPhone screens, their impact is being felt by hundreds of thousands of indigenous Amazonians, humans and animals alike. Images from space stations and satellites have shown forest fires in the first half of this year alone are over 80 per cent more common than they were during the same time last year.

Closer to home, the Australian beef industry is linked to a stupefying 94 per cent of land clearing in Great Barrier Reef catchments, according to The Guardian. Combined with a staggering 90 per cent in Amazonian deforestation over the same period, close to a quarter of “the lungs of the earth” are set aside for cattle. In ecological terms, our global obsession with meat-eating is giving the planet a bizarre form of environmental cancer: bovine-induced lymphoma.

cause of amazon fire
Environmental advocacy group, Extinction Rebellion protesting outside the Brazilian Embassy in London over the Amazon rainforest fires. Image: Getty.

Fortunately, there’s a course of action that might be able to cure this sickness. It’s as simple as quitting eating animals. Though vegans splash soy instead of mammary milk in their morning coffees, over 70 per cent of the global soya crop is fed directly to animals destined for human consumption.

Going vegan switched me like a light bulb. It can for you, too. For me, the environment came after the ethics. No matter which avenue you take, all roads lead to a kinder and more sustainable future. For me, going vegan exposed all of those excuses that allowed me to save beetles and bugs from drowning in bathtubs, or racing rundown birds to vets and earning bills that I couldn’t ever afford, all while ending the same day by sitting down at the dinner table to feast on a plate of butchered body parts.

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"Going vegan switched me like a light bulb. It can for you, too." Image: Supplied.

In that instant, I felt sick and I felt betrayed. I felt cheated by a culture that seemed to expect a kind world only for some, by blindly ignoring suffering if the body it belonged to was made of feathers, fur, or fins instead of fingers. When I learnt about the standard practices of the egg and dairy industries, and their impacts on the environment, I opted for milking coconuts instead of cows and scrambling tofu over baby birds. You can, too.

Because, ultimately, blood in our mouths often means blood on our hands. The ecological crimes currently ransacking the Amazon are dire indications of a fiery future unless we chart a new course. That new direction urgently requires us to move away from eating animals to sinking our teeth into plant-based produce.

Thankfully for us living in the age of pea protein, our options out-compete those on offer to the early vanguard of the animal rights movement at the helms of Animal Liberation, who quit eating animals over four decades ago. For the animals, the environment, and for ourselves, quitting eating animals and going vegan is the answer.

Alex Vince is the Vegan and Animal Liberation NSW co-ordinator, and a dedicated animal rights advocate.

For more on the Amazon rainforest fires:

Notre Dame burned and the world stopped. The Amazon has been on fire for three weeks.

The destruction of Australia's own Amazon, one of the most irreplaceable sites on earth.

Would you go vegan to save the environment? Tell us in a comment below.

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