Is Eating Meat Killing Koalas?
Australia is famous for its unique wildlife, and one of its most recognisable animals is the koala. Their furry faces appear on souvenirs, in advertising campaigns, and in bushfire-related coverage. But they face another, less obvious threat: farming other animals for meat is killing koalas, too. The trees beneath their paws – their homes – are being cut down to make room for breeding and feeding cattle and sheep. Koalas – left without a habitat and often injured from a violent deforestation process – have little hope for survival.
That’s why PETA Australia has released a new ad campaign featuring a burnt and bloodied koala lying on a meat tray, alongside the message that “Eating Meat Kills Koalas”.
Does Eating Meat Really Kill Koalas?
Yes. Let’s break down how.
Preparing land for farming animals is not as simple as putting up a few fences. It often involves razing native forests, which destroys the habitats of the animals who live there, including koalas. Dr Martin Taylor, the senior scientist with WWF Australia, recently said that “[e]ighty-five per cent of [bush being bulldozed] is just for beef cattle pasture or for sheep pasture”.
And It’s Not Just Koalas …
Exploiting animals for their flesh, milk, and eggs is pushing our natural environment and life on Earth to its limits: 70% of wild-animal populations have been lost since the 1970s, mainly because of habitat loss. And it’s not just happening to koalas in Australia. Wild animals are running out of space to live in and are going extinct at an alarming rate around the globe.
And of course, animal agriculture causes cows and lambs enormous suffering, too. Instead of living with their families in social groups, these sensitive animals are deprived of meaningful relationships throughout their short lives. Most of them are just babies when they’re transported to the abattoir to be dismembered and packaged into neatly plastic-wrapped parcels for sale.
Food Becomes Feed for Farmed Animals
Obviously, we all need to eat, but animal agriculture is an extremely inefficient use of land. The space needed to raise animals and feed them – whether with grass or grain – is staggering compared to the relatively small amount of calories it produces.
The most comprehensive analysis of land use to date, published in the journal Science, found that raising animals for food provides just 18% of the calories consumed by humans but takes up 83% of farmland. If we all stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy, global farmland use could be reduced by 75%.
Do You Remember the Australian Bushfires?
In late 2019, Australian wildlife suffered in devastating fires. Up to a billion native animals died, including thousands of koalas. Many of the survivors, faced with a loss of habitat and resources, had a difficult recovery. As people around the globe frantically raised funds for koalas, animal farmers went right back to destroying their homes and threatening their survival. In February 2020, an investigation found that at least 40 koalas had been found dead and more injured after a sheep farmer in Victoria bulldozed a blue gum plantation to turn the land into pasture. Meat kills – in even more ways than you think.
— PETA UK (@PETAUK) August 11, 2020
You Can’t Be a Meat-Eating Environmentalist
What’s fuelling the climate crisis? According to the United Nations, animal agriculture is responsible for a greater proportion of global greenhouse-gas emissions than all transportation combined.
As evidenced by the Australian bushfires and other climate catastrophes, the situation is dire – so much so that the United Nations is calling for urgent and unprecedented changes now, including to our diet.
Before sitting down for dinner, please stop and think of the petrified koalas losing their families and homes to the fires fuelled by animal agriculture – and of the sensitive, gentle cows being raised and slaughtered – and choose a veggie burger instead of beef. It’s such a simple action for us, but for animals, it’s literally the difference between life and death.
Will YOU Help Koalas?
We can act to save koalas and their homes three times a day – when we sit down to eat.
Go vegan to pave the way towards a greener, kinder future: