If you’re one of the more than 13,100 concerned global citizens who have already pledged to take extinction off their plates, you’re no doubt already aware of both the devastating impact that the livestock industry is having on wildlife, and the recent campaign to reduce these effects by lessening meat consumption. But for those who aren’t quite up to speed, allow us to explain:
The Center of Biological Diversity recently launched a new campaign to convince the planet to reduce its meat consumption by at least one-third. One key component of the campaign is to shine a spotlight on the damage that our cheeseburger-obsessed culture has on wildlife.
“From wolves to elk to prairie dogs, wild animals pay the price of meat production,” the campaign’s website explains. “Some are killed because they prey on cows; others die en masse to make room for agricultural operations; still more are put in harm’s way by pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change.”
All told, more than 175 species are threatened, endangered, or imperiled by livestock on federal lands in the United States alone. Livestock grazing—which is protected and subsidized on 270 million acres of public land—is among the greatest direct threats to imperiled species, according to the CBD.
The California grizzly bear was driven extinct nearly one hundred years ago by hunters hired by farmers and ranchers; the Mexican gray wolf was also nearly wiped out by ranchers, and is now the most endangered wolf species in the world.
The CBD’s efforts have successfully landed the topic in a number of national news outlets. An NPR article highlighting the campaign included a recent study linking the growing global demand for meat to the shrinking populations of the planet’s 31 largest carnivorous mammals. The piece also points out the livestock industry’s increasingly disturbing contributions to troubling ecological trends like water pollution, excessive waste, and greenhouse gas emissions.
The NPR article ends with a call for Meatless Mondays. Technically, that’s only reducing meat consumption by one-seventh, not the one-third that the Keep Extinction Off Your Plate movement aims for. But hey, when it comes to saving 175 endangered wildlife species, we’ll take what we can get!