Photo by Helen Alfvegren and licensed under CC BY 2.0
Rewilding and veganism are like two sides of a mutually symbiotic relationship between a cleaner fish and a mantaray. The vegans clear all the vacuous animal agriculture from the rewilder’s back and in return, they feed the soul from a vibrant recovering ecosystem. Here is a list of reasons why, if you’re a vegan, you should support rewilding, or if you’re a rewilder, you should embrace veganism. A UK case study.
Animal agriculture is the primary cause of species extinction.
Forget bringing species back – farming for meat and crops to feed livestock is pushing current native species to the brink. In the UK alone, 15% from about 8000 red-listed species are threatened with extinction, or extinct already. That’s also from an already dramatically depleted pool of wildlife – according to the Species Recovery Trust, 413 species have become extinct in the UK over 200 years. Even before that, the animal assemblage in these ‘green and pleasant’ lands were diminished due to hunting and conversion to pasture – today, the UK is one of few countries without an apex predator. Approximately 71% of the land of the United Kingdom is used for some form of agriculture, but it is well documented that animal-based diets require a substantial amount more land, for less food. Sheep grazing alone occupies the same amount of land as all of the acreage for crops, cereal, fruit and vegetables. And the land needed to feed a meat-eater is approximately 20 times the size needed for a vegan diet. Veganism therefore supports providing more space for the habitats of other species and a chance for rewilding.
Habitat destruction and livestock farming is intimately linked.
It’s not just clearance of rainforest for cattle ranching that’s a problem, land is in a permanent state of degradation in the UK thanks to a broken subsidy system which keeps it in this fragmented stasis. Rewilding wants the land to be restored so natural processes can flourish. Veganism is a way of reducing the demand for this type of land use.
Livestock is a leading cause of oceanic deadzones.
Rewilders want to restore the seas to their biodiverse and thriving ecological state, but polluted and de-oxygenated seas make this even more of a challenge. If the ocean is to recover and support an array of species, the impacts of animal agriculture need to be brought under control. If you want to see plenty of fish in the sea, it’s time to join Team Vegan.
Overfishing has decimated fish stocks and destructive fishing practices degrade habitats so marine life is unable to grow and repopulate.
The ocean could do with a little more low-impact sea-weed harvesting and a lot less intensive fishing. Fish are friends, not food.
With the volatile climate pressures and uncertainties over trade post-Brexit, the UK needs to future-proof its most critical human resource.
The Land Magazine has estimated that on a vegan pasture agricultural programme, the UK could feed, clothe and sustain the entire domestic population, and still have room leftover for other land uses. 9 million hectares of freed up land? Plenty of room for all UK residents, human and non-human alike.
Vegans and rewilders want to see a healthy, species-rich and vibrant planet where all living creatures are welcome.
Vegan UK by 2067 anyone?