It’s not just about beef.

The fires in the Amazon that caused blackouts in Sao Paulo are at their worst since records began. Only 1 year into the Brazilian far-right President’s term, an additional 1330 square miles of forest have been lost - a 39% increase on the same period last year. 

Why? 

In short, the land - where 20% of the Earth’s oxygen is produced - also presents a lucrative economic opportunity for the Brazilian government in the form of cattle farming and soy crops (most of which is used to feed farmed animals).

  • According to GlobalMeatNews.com, 2018 was the ‘best year’ for beef exports from Brazil...
  • ...and some sources report soy as one of the country's largest sources of income
  • The amount of soy grown in Brazil has quadrupled over the last 20 years (Greenpeace)

What's it got to do with us?

Most of the UK’s beef imports currently come from Ireland but as Brexit negotiations have encountered issues, our government recently began to focus more on Brazil, the world's largest exporter of beef.

90% of imported soy is fed to animals used as livestock including pork, chicken and, of course, cows. So even 'locally sourced meat' is impacting.

What can we do?

Here are the food types responsible for deforestation:

  • Imported meat (agriculture is responsible for 80% of worldwide deforestation)
  • British pork, beef and chicken, dairy and eggs
  • Soya (it’s thought that between 30 and 60% of soy produce in the UK is sustainably sourced BUT ‘sustainable’ can be a grey word as products that ‘offset’ emissions can still be classed as a sustainable source)

So once again (no surprises) the ideal is local / UK and plant-based.

  • Swap out soy products:
    • Oat milk froths best.
    • Discover other sources of protein, there are LOADS - beans, chickpeas, lentils...even Beyond Meat (pea protein)
  • Check labels for origins
  • Tell people - the fires are just as much about the grain as the beef. 

Read more

Alex Lockwood, journalist and Animal Rebellion campaigner in The Independent