Veganism is the trendy new diet sweeping Australia.
But those who opt for a plant based diet may be surprised to learn that their lifestyle still results in the death of hundreds of thousands of animals each year.
Tasmanian Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans said many people don’t understand what is involved in producing crops and that many animals are just part of the collateral damage in modern farming.
Pea farming is just one example where animals are killed in order to protect and grow crops, Mr Evans explains in The Weekend Australian Magazine.
Collydean farm (not it’s real name) is a 2,700 hectare farm in northern Tasmania produces about 400 tonnes of peas per season.
While there are wildlife fences in place to protect the crops, the farmers also have licenses to shoot animals that get through the fences.
Mr Evans said that while he was there, they were allowed to kill at least 150 deer, and annually kill 800-1,000 possums and 500 wallabies, as well as ducks.
‘More than 1,500 animals die each year to grow about 75 hectares of peas for our freezers. That’s not 1,500 rodents, which also die, and which some may see as collateral damage,’ Mr Evans wrote.
‘That’s mostly warm-blooded animals of the cute kind, with a few birds thrown in.’
Mr Evans said the owners of the farm convinced him it’s not financially viable to grow peas without controlling the pests.
Producing one kilogram of protein from wheat, a common crop in Australia, kills roughly 25 times more creatures than producing a kilogram beef protein.
Mike Archer, a science professor at the University of NSW, Mike Archer, explains that monocultures, mice plagues and modern farming systems kill off thousands of small animals just to product wheat.
While most of them are rodents, Mr Evans questioned why not all ‘warm-blooded life’ isn’t honoured equally in the vegan world.
In the five years leading up to 2013, New South Wales rice farmers killed almost 200,000 native ducks in order to protect their fields.
‘That’s how farming works. To grow something, other things are affected. Sometimes it’s an animal, sometimes it’s a helluva lot of animals,’ Mr Evans wrote.
Mr Evans also admitted that on his own property, Fat Pig Farm, up to 5,000 moths, snails and slugs are killed in order to protect the gardens.
Insects are often the most killed off animal due to vegetable production, with the most exploited being the European honeybee.
While many vegans don’t eat honey because it utilises the honeybee, Mr Evans explains that honeybees are the best pollinators for producing fruit.
Mr Evans explains that everyone eats about 0.5-1kg of flies, maggots and other bugs per year, hidden in chocolate, grains and peanut butter.