Vegetarians of Washington

Soil Erosion – the silent environmental catastrophe

The following is an excerpt from our book, Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose. This book includes answers to all the questions you may have about becoming a vegetarian, and is invaluable to new and existing vegetarians alike!

How does raising livestock cause soil erosion?

It’s hard to get excited about dirt but our lives depend on it. The crops can’t grow without soil and without the crops we all face starvation. Soil is formed through a natural process of wind and water on the earth, but this is a slow process. For example, in Iowa it takes 200 years to form one inch of topsoil. Plants and vegetation bind the soil together, but when those plants are removed, due to grazing or farming crops to feed animals, there is nothing to stop the soil from being washed or blown away. In Iowa, soil is being removed 30 times faster than it is being formed.  85 percent of all soil erosion in the United States is due to raising livestock. With 56 billion farm animals raised in the world each year, and one third of the habitable land being used directly or indirectly to raise them, scientists are sounding the alarm as massive soil erosion continues unabated. In parts of the US, China and sub-Saharan Africa, the result of soil erosion has been that what was once valuable farming land is now desert.