But taking such a narrow view elides the truth
The ground hog I moved is just one small example
Of course most vegan apologists would argue that the worms and millipedes and ants and beetles and so forth are low forms of life and that the sparrow’s death was an unfortunate accident. Living does not demand cruelty, but it inevitably requires dying. Agriculture displaces preexisting natural systems. The death of many animals, even extinction of some species, is inherent in our diversion of land and water to our own use.
Rodents, to take another example, do immense damage to our food supply, not to mention the rat-borne diseases that have occasionally wiped out hundreds of thousands of humans. There is no large scale food system that does not rely on eradication of rodents. Once again our lives depend on death.
I recall many years ago visiting Kings Canyon in California, near Sequoia National Park, and witnessing the incredible power of the Kings River with a current so forceful that boulders were being tossed into the air. And then learning that the river no longer reached the Pacific Ocean – diverted to agriculture. Back then I visited the Grand Canyon and the amazingly huge Colorado River, only to learn that it no longer reaches Mexico and that we have drilled wells to pump water into the river to meet our treaty obligations with our southern neighbor. By some accounts we now use or divert more than half of the fresh water on earth to human enterprises and we have entered what appears to be a permanent de facto drought. Water we use is generally not available to other creatures, and certainly not in the way it was before. Whether it is hot water pouring out of a power plant cooling system, agricultural run-off with its soup of nutrients and pesticides, the effluent from sewage systems, warm water lakes behind dams on formerly cold rivers, and on and on and on … we have twisted the hydrological cycle to our own ends..
Furthermore, the agriculture that feeds CO payday loans 7 or 8 billion people is entirely dependent on the oil industry, a business that is very hard on animal life even without the Exxon Valdez and the BP oil platform explosion. The fertilizer that made the so-called Green Revolution possible is manufactured from natural gas. The tractors in the fields and the trucks that deliver food run on oil and gas. And yes, we may be able to shift a great deal of our energy production to solar and wind, but I haven’t heard a plausible argument for a large-scale nitrogen fertilizer alternative in the foreseeable future. Modern sewage sludge is so toxic it ranks as a hazardous waste.
This touches on an environmental argument favoring veganism, which involves the idea that it takes a lot more land area to support an omnivorous diet
Perhaps the massive destruction of the natural world could be minimized if we each grew all of our own food using only the rain that falls on our gardens and hand tools. We could use our own waste for fertilizer as I did for twenty years with my composting toilet. But I don’t see personal gardening as a realistic option given our numbers and the massive concentration of human beings in cities. Even there, as I’ve noted, we are displacing animals.
There is some truth in that, particularly with grain fed beef. That argument spoke to me 30 years ago, but I’m less certain today. Animal manure used to be the principal nitrogen fertilizer source on farms, today it is replaced as I mentioned with natural gas. Manure is much healthier for the soil than the chemicals used today. And conversion of sunlight via grass into manure while producing protein is the natural way to preserve topsoil health. We are all, inextricably, dependent on topsoil to live. Any vegan who buys local produce from a small farm is almost certainly benefitting from manure or other animal products. If you buy organic fertilizer, check the label – it generally includes feathers, bones and blood.