Vegans and Vegetarians Think They Don’t Kill Animals but They Do

Less than a week ago, Claudio Bertonatti, one of the most renowned naturalists in Argentina, wrote an article that triggered an earthquake. The tsunami has already reached us here and is likely to extend even further.

In his article, The Vegan Confusion, he warns that eating vegetables doesn’t prevent the death of animals. Bertonatti has enraged thousands of vegans and vegetarians, as well as other nature conservationists. However, many who read his article learned something about animal rights that might never have occurred to them otherwise.

We spoke to Claudio about his earth-shattering idea and discussed the most important points of the controversy.

Claudio, you were a vegetarian. What made you decide to become one?

As a teenager, I grew interested in nature. I thought that by becoming a vegetarian I’d avoid killing so many animals. But then I changed my mind.

What happened?

I began studying nature and going out to the countryside to observe wildlife. I noticed that in the fields of agricultural crops there were no birds, and the few that were there were being persecuted. Then I started studying amphibians, mammals, reptiles and fish and I realized that I’d been confused.

How?

As a vegetarian, I was helping 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.

What drove you to write the article?

In Argentina, I encounter many people who claim to be defenders of nature because they don’t eat meat or wear leather. They think that by being vegan or vegetarian they’re preventing animals from dying. It’s not true.

Why?

From the moment that humans began to raise cattle and adopt agriculture we generated an impact. 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. I’d also like to live in an ideal world, but that’s not the reality. Many vegans and people who only wear cotton seem to believe they don’t cause any deaths, but they do.

When I say this, many people feel like I’m cornering them

Indirect deaths?

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. In Argentina, they set fire to the jungle, burning nests with flamethrowers. Then they must defend the sown land from the birds who come to feed; many landowners do this by scattering poisoned grains. After that, the wild herbivores come looking for the first shoots, so the landowners put up electric fences or hunt the animals down with guns.

If you eat meat, you kill animals, but you also kill them by eating plants

What happens during harvest?

The land is fumigated to combat fungi, insects and other plants. The animals that have been driven out move on to other areas which already support animals: the hotel is fully booked. So, the animals go to neighbouring crop fields and another wave of impacts is generated.

By contrast, he says, in fields dedicated to livestock there are more species of other animals.

There are lots of wild grasslands in Argentina. You can go for a walk there and find everything: amphibians, reptiles, birds. Of course, I’d be lying if I said there’s the same variety of animals as you’d get if the cows weren’t there. The farmer also persecutes wildlife and kills any animals he considers harmful to production. Even so, the impact is less. When I say this, a lot of people feel I’m cornering them.

In what sense?

In the sense that there’s no escape: if you eat meat, you kill animals, but you also kill them by eating plants. A lot of people who care about environmental issues look for good guys and bad guys, but it’s not like that: it’s far more complicated.

Give us an example.

There are lots of people here demonstrating and saying “No to mining”. The slogan should be “No to mining that recklessly exploits resources and people”. The activists use computers that wouldn’t exist without the metals brought up from the mines. I’m surprised they don’t see the bigger picture.

Most slaughterhouses in Argentina are models of cruelty. I could never pretend otherwise!

What do you think of the way in which meat is mass produced – the meat industry?

It’s a tragedy. Feedlot and most slaughterhouses in Argentina are models of unrestrained cruelty. I could never pretend otherwise!

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.

That’s true. I know that most soya crops are used for this purpose. I’m not saying vegans are stupid or that they should all become carnivores, I’m just saying that it’s important to be sensible, to adopt an intelligent position and show some solidarity.

To a fundamentalist, it’s a sin to mention death. What else should I call it? Euthanasia?

What is an intelligent position?

Showing solidarity with nature: the lesser evil. It’s important to encourage the responsible consumption and humane killing of animals. But to a fundamentalist, it’s a sin even to mention death. What else should I call it? Euthanasia?

If I understand correctly, your intention is to warn vegans and vegetarians that zero impact is impossible.

Most of us live in cities and know very little about the animal world. Ask your friends if they can name 10 animals and 10 wild plants native to the area they live in.

We probably wouldn’t be able to.

If we don’t know anything about nature and diversity, then we won’t be able to value it. Our universe is limited to what we see: dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, ducks, cows. Our sensitivity extends only towards them. It’s like looking through a keyhole. The world is bigger than that and far more complex, whether you accept it or not.

You talk as if you know a lot of fanatics.

There are fundamentalist carnivores and vegans. As a scientist, when I hear them speaking in that confident tone – so utterly lacking in self-doubt – it scares me. Fundamentalists only pay attention to people who think like they do, and see everyone else as an enemy. It’s a contradiction.

Our universe is limited to what we see: dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, cows. Our sensitivity extends only towards them

What?

For a carnivore to be violent is logical, but for a vegan to be violent is philosophically inconsistent.

Have you met violent vegans?

I was the managing director of Buenos Aires Zoo. I resigned because I tried to transform it into a conservation centre for endangered species but couldn’t. There were these vegans who’d demonstrate in front of the zoo, shouting at the families who came in, calling them murderers. That damages veganism. People think: if this is veganism then I want no part of it. Not all vegans are like that, of course. But there are lots of people who develop a great empathy for domestic animals only. Many of them end up hating people and that’s a pathology: it’s not healthy.

For a carnivore to be violent is logical, but for a vegan to be violent is philosophically inconsistent

In your article, you say that if the whole human race suddenly became vegan, it would be a tragedy. But some say if we were all vegan then we’d need fewer crops than we do as omnivores.

I wrote the article as a way of generating debate in my country, where the vegan movement’s grasp on environmental analysis is generally quite shaky. If the whole human race became vegan because of this type of thinking (not counting other philosophical, religious or health reasons that I won’t go into), it would be a tragedy because we wouldn’t be understanding the world’s environmental problems.

You’re not convinced by the statistics.

If a well-understood veganism contributes to improving the natural world, then I’ll gladly become a vegan. My chief concern is the conservation of biodiversity: that the wealth of life on Earth does not become impoverished.

But, again, if everyone in Argentina were vegan, wouldn’t that require fewer crops?

I don’t know. I don’t think you need to be vegan to conserve nature and biodiversity. I’m not a specialist in agricultural production development, but from what I know about the environment, it’s always better to diversify production. There should be crops, cows, beekeepers… diversity.

You don’t need to be vegan to conserve nature and biodiversity

What shortcomings do you see in the vegan movement?

I never see them fighting for the creation of new protected areas or combatting the illegal trafficking of wildlife. I see them protesting bullfighting, which no longer goes on in Argentina, and slaughterhouses. It’s like they only care about domestic animals which, again, are not in danger of extinction. I’m not saying it’s wrong – just that there’s so much more to it.

In general, do you think there’s not enough of a connection between veganism and environmental awareness?

What I find dangerous is that you spend all your energy trying to save the black cat, while knowing nothing about the environment, because maybe you’re wasting your energy; maybe your energy would have a greater impact elsewhere. It’s important to have a broad vision: it could help you analyse your situation better. If, afterwards, you still want to dedicate your life to saving black cats, that’s great, I’m appreciative of it. Defending animal rights is not incompatible with nature conservation.

Clearly, there’s a conflict between environmentalists and animal rights activists and it’s definitely going to have a big impact on the future of humanity. 

It reminds me a little of left-wing political parties: they act like they’re enemies, and yet they’re very similar and should be allies. Do you know who the biggest enemy of nature conservation is?

Who?

Indifferent people. A lot of indifferent people believe that everyone who cares about the environment is the same: we don’t eat meat, we’re do-gooding greenies who never have sex. It’s not true. We’re normal people!

Environmentalists tend to think vegans and vegetarians are just sentimental. On the other hand, the indifference of some vegans to wild animals and biodiversity concerns me

Death is a part of nature. Mixing feelings with science doesn’t seem very scientific. On the other hand, human consciousness is important, as is our responsibility for an appalling and heavy-polluting industry. Who’s wrong?

Mistakes are made on both sides. Environmentalists tend to think vegans and vegetarians are just sentimental. On the other hand, the indifference of some vegans to wild animals and biodiversity concerns me: it’s not consistent. I acknowledge the fact that humanity is a machine that devours the world. One anthropologist said that we’re cosmophagic: we devour that which surrounds us.

Are you happy about the stir your text has caused?

A lot of people insult me and attack me by saying I killed a polar bear, which isn’t true. Others provide me with new perspectives for which I thank them! I’m just a journeyman of nature conservation, a gardener, and I’ve been wrong many times. I do my best, but it doesn’t offend me to find out I’m wrong. I think like a scientist, not like a fundamentalist.

You don’t need to be vegan to conserve nature and biodiversity

Source: http://www.playground.plus/food/vegans-and-vegetarians-think-they-dont-kill-animals-but-they-do/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=plus

25 thoughts on “Vegans and Vegetarians Think They Don’t Kill Animals but They Do

  1. Why the assumption that vegans don’t care about wild animals? Of course we do. The number one cause of species extinction is ANIMAL AGRICULTURE. Raising animals takes up 10-16 TIMES more land than just eating plants. Those plants fed to animals take up more land than if we just ate the plants ourselves. We know there is no such thing as perfection and that by being alive, by being born a human in a world of corporate destruction, we are contributing a portion of destruction. I also do not have kids for this reason. If we could all also live completely off the grid and grow our own food, that would be the ultimate. But we can easily reduce that destruction, even a little bit of suffering, by being vegan, so why wouldn’t we? If we can stop the unnecessary breeding and killing of BILLIONS of animals per year, why wouldn’t we? If we can stop the destruction of 1 acre of rainforest being tore down PER SECOND for ‘grass fed cows’, why wouldn’t we?

  2. I take more resources such as water, electricity to produce animal proteins and animals farming also cause more pollution to the water, air….etc…and my body is not a graveyard for death corpses.

  3. This is stupid. It takes fields of agriculture to raise every cow. If everyone was a vegetarian, we’d need far LESS agriculture in the world than we do now.

  4. “The first impact of mass cultivation is deforestation: we force nature out to make room for crops.”

    The article fails on its basic premise. More crops (mostly soy, corn) are there just because of more animals for us to feed. If we didn’t eat meat, less crops and less deforestation would be needed. Maybe he needs to rethink his logic.

    He eats meat, more animals die, more are needed. He’s become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  5. I personally have come to find that most vegans and vegetarians have a far more conscious field and are actively seeking connection to a far more wholistic non-violent lifestyle that acknowledges WE are part of an irreducibly connection bio-system. Our current animal agriculture and GMO’s is wrecking havoc on our body’s bio-system, creating a pandemic of disease to humans and nature’s bio-systems; destroying the planet, our species, environment and creating more CO2 than all transportation combined. To see an article that carves fruits and vegetables into skulls concerns me. The article is flawed in that it doesn’t acknowledge that both vegetarianism and veganism are both healthier choices in our collective efforts to reduce unnecessary suffering to animals, to our planet and it’s bio-eco-systems. Einstein, Plato, Tolstoy, Tesla, Divinci and so many other brilliant minds then, and now, are advocating moving to a vegan or vegetarian diet. And now the UN has said recently the veganism might likely be the only thing that can save our planet and studies show that eating a plant-based diet greatly increases health and lifespans… One thing is for sure, eating dead flesh that has horribly suffered and been pumped full of hormones during life and cortisol pumping into the flesh from the trauma and fear just before their horrific death doesn’t equal healthy eating or life. Is it not time to speak truth to an unpalatable yet necessary conversation if WE are to move to building peaceful and new wholistic systems models which honor and respect that WE are stewards of this treasured planet and what we’ve been doing isn’t working, is unsustainable and has trampled our welcome to the point of our own possible extinction. DREAM WILD, LOVE BIGGER!

  6. how bout this. save ur money grow ur own food. eat ur own food. if u cant do that ur gonna have a difficult time when the banks and stores shut down. does nobody know how to garden aymore. if i can do it up here in canada im pretty sure its much easier in the states where its much warmer

  7. Plants do not have souls, they are here for us to consume. Animals do have souls, they are our companions & teachers. They also learn from us so that they can evolve to the next phase of their evolution. I CHOOSE not to eat them, Its my own personal choice. I disagree with this perspective.

    • Plants are members of a group soul or collective consciousness, they are conscious for sure. I’ve experienced a period in my life, about 15 years ago I think, when I came home from work and all the plants in my living room, which were many, welcomed me by sending a wave of love to me.

      I was so surprised and felt a deep connection with them. Since than, I can feel this connection all the time. Trees can give great comfort when you sit against them or touch them and consciously create a connection, acknowledging their presence. They respond!

      There’s an East European nature wizard called Marco Pogacnik, who works with the elements in nature, the energy of places in nature and acknowledges the presence of nature spirits. Showing
      him their guidance. Spirits of trees, plants, rocks and soil. Including the presence of animal life.

  8. No offence but this guy is just a person with no expertise thinking out loud. I have been reading the UN reports, university studies and ecological studies that show that animal agriculture causes the most destruction for reasons of land clearing, methane and carbon output, water usage, top soil erosion and waste build up (factory farms). Maybe time for this guy to be a little less philosophical and a little more researched.

  9. This article is pure BS. Do you have any idea how many acres it takes to produce the meat? There’s far more destruction in the creation of marketed meat than human consumption of vegetables.

    But hey, we can literally make wonderful, lengthy and bogus articles about anything these days since humans have already been dumbed down through GMOs and texts that are nothing more than LOL!

    Doesn’t mean that any of these lengthy articles are true – just that they “appear to be knowledge based.”

    NOT!

    • Also if we’re talking to make damage, do you not know how COWS ARE DOING DAMAGE TO EARTH ATMOSPHERE ?? The gases emitted by cows are more than 50% of the other gases that are causing Global Warming .. People had forgotten about this and no to many longer speak, But the climatological disasters looming, are caused by this phenomenon ..politicians has been paid worldwide to say that is not true, but it is the biggest problem lurks THE WHOLE WORLD. If we do not solved that, we’re wasting time here arguing over anything.God Protect us all.

      • I think you’ve over looked all of the wild animals in the World, especially in Africa. There are millions of water buffalo and millions of wildebeests alone that easily out number all of the domesticated cows in the World.

        Stop eating cows won’t make them go away either. They will still reproduce and pass gas. What should we do to the cows when we stop eating them? Kill them off so they stop farting? Sounds inhumane to me.

        I believe the World’s atmosphere can handle all of the flatulence that is not only being produced by all animals, but also by 7.4 billion people that outnumber all of those beasts.

        So, I think we humans cause more flatulence than those cows you are so worried about.
        And human sewer systems is near the top of the list of pollutants we produce against nature.

        We need to be concern on how to feed all of the farting humans with negative impact to the environment at all.

        Namaste.

  10. Well I am from India and here still people treat cow with respect.
    Still things are not totally machine controlled and people also leave milk for the calves. So veganism is not that much spread here.

    Similarly there is not that large cultivation at most places, no electric fences and many ways are still close to nature, though they are getting lost with time.

    For American perspective you may be right, but there are ways to be vegetarian or vegan without hurting any animals (better say without hurting nature). With high demand and commercialization those are just getting forgotten.

  11. This whole “vegans kill animals” thing is getting pretty old. Yep, I’m sure some animals die or are displaced due to agriculture, but considering that it takes 15 times the land to feed an omni than it does I’d say that’s a pretty big reduction of negative impact. Then there’s the 60 billion land animals killed by omni. So say an omni diet kills and displaces 15 billion wild animals a year, then add that 60 billion. A vegan diet would be responsible for 1 billion deaths as opposed to 75 billion. No one is perfect, but we can all do our part to suck less. Saying “Animals will die either way so I’ll kill as many as possible” is doing ones part to suck as much as possible. The “vegans kill animals” is a sad attempt to justify causing as much harm as possible simply for a taste preference.

  12. “If I understand correctly, your intention is to warn vegans and vegetarians that zero impact is impossible.”

    Zero impact is possible with personal & community gardening. It has already been proven that a small patch of land in a city can feed hundreds of people. Multiply those patches of land plus garden roof-tops, garden hanging-walls, etc., all over every city and there will be an abundance of food to feed the people.

    Then we can greatly reduce down to very little, then to the point of zero agriculture on open lands and prevent unnecessary deforestation. Saving the animal and native plants species in those areas.

    Drill water wells down to 1,500′ and more to reach “Primary Water” that is supplied by our Earth. It is a renewable. The shallow aquifers, less than 600′ down, are being intentionally polluted by irresponsible and unnecessary fracking. So the populous will be forced to drink water that is fluoridated and heavily laced with chemicals from Government sources.

    We mush feed ourselves and our neighbors and get away from Government controlled food/water supplies to the masses.
    Taking responsibility for our own lives and stop relying on the State to feed us will greatly move us in the Right direction of True Independence from the nanny Government that is clearly out to harm us in every way possible.

    Peace, Love, Light & Abundance for All.

    Namaste.

  13. i’m a vegetarian and clinical nutritionist and naturopath. eating only wild, non-domesticated food would be great but it simply isn’t possible for most humans for many many reasons from overpopulation to destroyed wild land for domesticated fields. we must eat though and all we can do is our best. that doesn’t mean we should basically give up as the author did and start eating murdered flesh again. that is directly killing life. even if eating domesticated plants is indirectly killing animals as the author says, which is highly debatable, it does not even compare to outright directly eating meat. that is giving up! that is like saying there is so much harm done by racism out there in the world and nothing is improving it so i will just join the racists. so has the author began to avoid domesticated vegetation since it supposedly kills animals? this is the big question? because if he hasn’t done this yet he began to eat meat for this reason, then he is a hypocrite and most likely simply did this as a reason to indulge in meat again. so he has given in to killing domesticated animals since avoiding eating domesticated animals indirectly kills wild animals? how twisted is that? so are wild animals more important souls than domesticated animals? are lions and tigers higher beings than cows and chickens? are the avatars and archangels of the animal kingdom. NO they are not. they are all equal just as all us humans our equal to the ascended light beings who guide us and look after us since we are all divine beings. did this guy develop poor health as a vegan and get bitter at veganism or vegetarianism? did his mind simply rationalize and create this entire theory in order to meet his craving of meat? i believe our brains will go to great lengths to get us to eat meat since we ate it all our lives and also because i believe we were misled to eating it by the dark forces on our planet so that our vibrations stay low and we stay unawakened and enslaved, although we can never truly be enslaved. i will tell you, i am as zealous for my health and well-being, physically and spiritually, as anyone is. i strongly believe that eating flesh lowers our vibration and thus weakens us in every way, physically, emotionally, mentally, astrally, etherically, because everything is dependent on our frequency of light, everything. and yet despite my very deep beliefs, dedication and commitment to living this type of healthy lifestyle my brain still F’s with me at times, tempting me to eat meat and i find myself rationalizing to make it ok. again, i would like to know if the author gave up eating domesticated vegetation. because if he didn’t he is not practicing what he is preaching in this article. if he is eating domesticated meat because he says avoiding it threatens wildlife, then he needs to also avoid domesticated vegetation because he said that also has threatened wild life. you can’t just pick and choose which of your theories you are going to follow, buddy, especially when you judge others well, you can actually, you can do anything you want. and you can write anything you want, as well.

    • The topic of this article is that the idea, not eating meat and being kind to animals by eating plants,
      is erroneous.The author shares his views and experiences. He doesn’t prescribe anything, regarding eating habits.Don’t take it as if this is the case, taufik.

      Many people live in a way that their mental “motor” is in high gear and this causes them to believe in this:

      “For a carnivore to be violent is logical, but for a vegan to be violent is philosophically inconsistent”

      Eating a diet that is chosen with the mind, is at risk of neglecting what our gut feeling is telling us, including our digestive system. Shortage of minerals and forcing oneself to obey the rules of a diet without being in touch with what your gut is telling you, is the cause of disgruntledness and violent
      reactions.

      Food and diet is a very emotional topic, for it’s directly attached to our emotions. The food industry does appeal to emotions only, look at the advertisements. It’s all about instant satisfaction, on the level of a baby-consciousness.

      Eating involves our emotions and the cellular function of our body. This is a continuing interaction. Fundamentalism in eating habits is proof that the head prefers more feeding than our belly longs for satisfaction. Take the joy out of eating and your liver will turn against you, lowering your vitality.
      Well, ahem, I’m quite passionate about eating and diet, this is my view as holistic nutritionist and cook.

  14. I chose not to eat meat because I just cannot stomach it. My IBS was causing me to lose work and I was miserable all the time (it bad when you decide your day on how far you are from the bathrooms). When I changed my diet to whole foods, I overcame many of my health issues attributed to how I ate. ALso, the body is evolving, and for many of us we no longer need the dense calories provided by meat and processed foods laden with poisons. It is said in Mother Earth News you can grow vegetables on one quarter of an acre of land to make $58,000. This depends on the market in your area. If each of us came to grow our own food, put in one beehive and plant trees we all could erase what this man is talking about. MOst people will not grow their own food unfortunately. But, like I said it is an evolutionary process with the body changes–and so we must adapt. What about the fruitarians and breatharians out there? It is all a matter of what timeline you are on and your perspective.

  15. I bet many are upset, but for the wrong reason, as I perceive it.

    There’s an obstacle for a number of vegetarians and vegans, choosing to stop eating meat, feeling guilty and sad in a sentimental way. They often continue to observe every situation concerning meat in a state of sentimental worrying, feeling triggered by guilt or…. in selfrighteousness, in judgment of others. Sentiments and guilt are the wrong driving forces in making moral choices, as I perceive it.

    It’s a whole different story, when we decide to stop eating meat without feeling guilty, forcing ourselves to be vigilant not to sin again, in fear of doing the wrong thing, turning inflexible in anger and even… a step further, fanatic.Fear of doing the wrong thing, that’s dependance on an outside authority.
    Thou shall not….. for risk of burning at the stake… so to speak.

    If I choose to eat a piece of meat, I do this with the utmost respect for the animal that gave its life,
    while knowing where and how that animal lived, knowing the farmer of the land where the animal lived.
    I can’t see anything wrong with that, to be honest. It happens seldom, mainly in long periods of winter colds.

    I’ve seen enough vegans turning their rage, also due to being malnourished, against their human fellow beings who aren’t vegan. I asked myself “What is it that makes these people turn their eating habits into a religion?” Anno 2016? They probably lost touch with their gut feelings 😉

    • Yes, I agree with you, Jay, organic does respect the earth as well as our physical body and level of vitality. No poisoning is done to the earth, the soil, crops and the hands that work on the land are
      working in an harmonious way, respecting the life or all organisms in and above the ground.
      I’ve experienced the beneficial effect of organic food for 42 years now.

      I’ve tried to taste a locust once, on a market, fried. I took it in my hand and looked at it, but I couldn’t. Even after 3 times walking by, standing still at that stall, trying to put it in my mouth, I couldn’t.
      Not even with my eyes closed. Maybe when I’m lost in the desert without food, I might give it a try 🙂

  16. With all my respect, this is part of the information we have, and everybody can act or think if this is going to be good or no for them, but from my point I do not eat any kind of dead meet, not only because somebody had killed some animal, fish, or chicken or some other bird, is because the meet cause many illness to the human body, because because we were not born with the appropriate teeth to eat meat. Our digestive system is not made to digest meat correctamete like animals carnivores. Finally human beings are not carnivorous animals learn more about it.

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