Guest blog from Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming
Today, many wild animals face extinction. However, it’s not just the usual suspects – climate change and poaching – which are to blame. In fact, one of the biggest drivers of species loss worldwide is cheap meat from factory farms.
Wildlife is now disappearing 1,000 times faster than what scientists consider to be ‘normal’.
Indeed, there are two sides to factory farming. On the one, animals suffer as they are caged and confined on factory farms. On the other, wild animals are squeezed out of their homes as more and more land and water is given over to the production of cheap animal feed.
Take the Sumatran elephant. Down to their last 2,500, their forest homes are being destroyed to make way for intensive palm plantations. It’s not just about the palm oil ending up in so many biscuits, cosmetics and other products. It’s about the palm kernel, which is being used as cheap animal feed, fuelling factory farming and driving further deforestation.
Penguins are being pushed to the brink of extinction too, because we feed our factory-farmed animals the very same fish which make up the penguin’s diet. And jaguars in Brazil are left with nowhere to live and little to eat as monocultures of soya take over the land, once again destined to feed animals suffering on intensive farms.
Over the course of writing Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were, I’ve discovered that when we restore animals to the land in the right way – in well-managed, mixed rotational farms – amazing things can happen. Free-ranging animals on pasture can feel fresh air and sunshine, and carry out natural behaviours essential for their welfare. Soils start to regenerate. Wildlife can thrive again.
The planet is now at a dangerous tipping point where nearly half the world’s meat comes from industrial rather than mixed, extensive farms.
Helping to revive a living countryside can be as easy as choosing to eat less and better meat, milk, and eggs from pasture-fed, free-range or organic animals – with a cascade of positive benefits for the environment, wildlife, farm animals, and us.