I’m Mic., and today it’s time to tackle the notion that, well, veganism is pointless because vegans contribute to animal deaths too. This video is mainly a response to this PlayGround article from last week, which also explores some gems of ethical wisdom, like the concept that death is natural, so we might as well kill animals. We will dissect these gems shortly.All right, before we examine those, let’s take a closer look at the article which is an interview of ex-vegetarian and renowned Argentinian naturalist Claudio Bertonatti. And you know, I probably agree with him in some of his main areas of study, like how species extinction is horrible and how climate change negative affects indigenous populations, but when it comes to veganism, you can tell he really hasn’t studied it. He’s just not seeing the real facts. So let’s see what he has to say. “I thought by becoming vegetarian I’d avoid killing so many animals. But then I changed my mind.” It makes sense now. People love the failed vegetarian story. It explains why I saw it shared so much. All right, he continues with, “As a vegetarian, I was hoping to prevent the death and suffering of domestic animals, but not of wild species. And many of these species–unlike cows, pigs and goats–were disappearing. So I went back to being an omnivore.” Okay, okay. So he was like, “As a vegetarian, I was saving farmed animals, but because wild animals were still dying, I decided to resume eating farmed animals.” Great initiative. I do not understand how he made that leap of logic. Let’s keep looking. He says, “I began studying nature and going out to the countryside to observe wildlife.” Saying that crops seemed to be devoid of wildlife, and that the farmers keep the birds away, and that this represented indirect animal deaths by eating plants. And he says, “Wheat, rice, corn. Most vegans eat these things. The first impact of mass cultivation is deforestation: we force nature out to make room for crops.” Okay, we’ll examine that idea in a bit, but the question is how does becoming an omnivore and eating meat actually help wild animals? He says that livestock fields seem to have wild animals in them, and though he admits less biodiversity than if there were no cows, going on to say that, yeah, they kill predators to protect livestock, but that’s just not a big deal. Quick note, our government in the US has killed 3.2 million animals just last year alone to mainly protect livestock, and those are mostly native species. But that’s not a big impact. So to summarize, Claudio is saying that crops destroy a wildlife habitat, but livestock grazing increases and promotes wildlife habitat, so going omnivore and eating animals saves wildlife. All right, Claudio, this is the point where I would have to call you out, but it looks like the interviewer already started to by asking, “There’s evidence that the resources required for meat are far greater than those required for vegetables, and that crops make up a large part of these resources. A high percentage of them are used to feed livestock,” to which Claudio responds, “That’s true. I know that most soya crops are used for this purpose. I’m not saying that vegans are stupid.” Let me get this straight. He knows that most soy crops are fed to livestock yet decided to start eating livestock because of the harm that crops cause wildlife. Ah, my brain’s exploding. He really seems to mention cows a lot. Well, according to the World Resources Institute, “By the best global average estimates, beef converts only 1% of gross animal feed energy into food for people.” So you’re literally throwing away 99 out of 100 of those soybeans, and Argentina is dominated by feedlots, up to 80% of beef according to Grist. At this point, I have to ask, Claudio, do you have any conflict of interest, or have you actually just not seen these figures? After all, you did write this article about why vegans are confused on a website that is largely dedicated to livestock news. His best tidbit though is how in Argentina, the vegan movement’s grasp on environmental analysis is “generally quite shaky.” Well, let’s see if there really is no case to be made by vegans in Argentina by looking at some environmental statistics there from this article on the German government-funded website Development and Cooperation. “3 million hectares of forest were destroyed in the past decade to make space for grain production and grazing land.” And according to the FAO, Argentina alone produces over one-fifth of the entire world’s supply of soy, so you can bet soy played a role in chopping down those trees. And according to The Argentina Independent, only 30 percent of the country’s original forests remain. Now I’m not saying this was all livestock. But there seems to be a rich history of chopping down forests to make land for breeding cattle to export or just general cattle grazing, and of course to grow soybeans. Now, the interviewer threw another pretty real question at him by asking, “If everyone in Argentina were vegan, wouldn’t that require fewer crops?” And he replied with, “I don’t know.” Yes, Claudio, you don’t know, yet you still write articles and take interviews on this subject. Even studies that are stacked in virtually every variable against a vegan diet, like this one, still admit that a vegan diet would only require one-fifth the cropland as an omnivorous diet. In your previous article, you said something that roughly translated to, If the whole world went vegan, it would be a tragedy.” So like the kind of tragedy where we recover 80% of the cropland that we can then dedicate to wildlife? To drive it all home, according to Beef2Live.com, which I can guarantee you is not a vegan website, Argentina has the second-highest beef consumption of any country in the whole world at about 90 pounds or 45 kilograms per person per year. Now, I think we’re getting pretty close to vindicating those Argentinian vegans with their shaky environmental science, but there’s still more, especially about climate change. According to this paper by what translates roughly to the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, 35% of Argentina’s total greenhouse gas emissions are from cattle. And the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture follows closely with 30%, so yes, about one-third of Argentina’s greenhouse gas emissions are from cattle alone. And I know a large focus of Claudio’s is species extinction, as he talks about in this video. Climate change, as we know, is a major driver of species extinction. But what might be even more of a direct driver in the Amazon, for example, is deforestation, and as we know by this World Bank paper, 70% of Amazon destruction is from livestock. Given the industry similarities between Argentina and Amazon countries, it is very likely that the main cause of species extinction in the great Chaco and Yungas rainforests is livestock as well. So whether its climate change or habitat destruction from cropland or grazing, the main threat to Argentinian wildlife is livestock, and you are writing about why vegans are confused. Now for one point that surprisingly Claudio left out, and that is deaths from harvesting in cropland Here’s a chart from AnimalVisuals.org. Assuming these are accurate figures for Argentina, by trading grain calories for beef calories–you lose grazing habitat you believe is so magical for wild animals–you are literally killing 15 to 20 times more wild animals than if you were to just eat grain. That’s 15 to 20 times the harvesting deaths. And a quick note, croplands don’t have to look like what Claudio describes. They don’t have to be massive industrial monocultures that are using chemical fertilizer and pesticides. They can be polycultures with edge rows, which alone can create snake habitat and other predator habitat. Even just one step up to organic creates a massive difference for wildlife. All right, now one last point, the one that kind of freaks me out the most, and that is his point about how, “Death is a part of nature.” I find this excuse to eat animals really mentally disturbing because it’s literally the same logic that villains and serial killers in movies use before they kill people. What he says next just seems like it’s right out of a Marvel villain’s mouth before he tries to purge humanity. (Marvel villain voice) “There is no animal species whose survival doesn’t result in the death of other animals, whether directly or indirectly. I understand that this can be a painful realization.” He goes on to say that vegans think they don’t cause any death by wearing cotton instead of animal products, implying that animals still die during the cotton farming process. This is where it becomes clear that Claudio’s whole perspective is just a straw man argument. He says basically that vegans believe they don’t cause any death. This is not true. Vegans know they’re not perfect. Vegans know they cause death. They’re just trying to be better and cause less death. In conclusion, in the beginning of the article when Claudio said, “I began studying nature and going out to the countryside to observe wildlife,” I think he meant, “I began studying the elephant by putting on a blindfold and feeling its leg. I determined it was a tree.” He was just not seeing the whole picture here. He was not seeing the statistics in Argentina or across the world. He is wrong to say that a vegan diet would increase cropland-based wildlife deaths, and especially he is wrong that eating an omnivorous diet would decrease wildlife deaths. But I do have a little bit of faith here Claudio has said that he’s been wrong many times and that it doesn’t offend him to find out that he’s wrong. All right, Claudio, I hope that somehow after seeing these statistics, you can realize that a vegan diet is a great option if you care about the wildlife in Argentina and across the world, mainly because it eliminates livestock, the leading cause of deforestation and species extinction, and especially in Argentina, greenhouse gas emissions. All right, that’s it for today. Thank you for watching. Feel free to like and subscribe, and let me know down below what you want to hear me talk about next. All right, see you next time