If I ruled the world … everyone would become vegan. Let me explain why.
The fires in the Amazon rainforest are tragic but this is the cost of livestock farming. The fires were deliberately lit to clear the land for crops and cattle grazing.
Most of the crops grown on the planet are used to feed farm animal and this includes soya. To quote George Monbiot, if you want to eat less soya, then you should eat soya. His contention is that most of the soya grown on the planet is embedded in livestock.
Agriculture is the biggest user of land on the planet and 83% of this is animal agriculture. Right at the top is cattle farming which requires a massive amount of land to produce a tiny amount of protein: “1 calorie of beef requires 37 calories of plants, 1 calorie of pork requires 12 calories of plants, 1 calorie of chicken requires 9 plant calories, 1 calorie of eggs and 1 calorie of dairy each require 6 plant calories“. [source]
In the UK, 55% of cropland is used to grow animal feed. If instead, we repurposed the land to grow human food and reforested all land currently used for animal grazing, we could remove 3,236 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and produce sufficient protein and calories for each person in the UK. We would become self-sufficient. Currently more than 90% of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the UK are imported. Imagine if we could become self-sufficient, massively improve food security, and also meet our commitments under the Paris climate agreement. We can. We just need to adopt a plant-based diet urgently.
The tragedy in the Amazon is about land use. Grazing animals need a lot of space; space which could instead be forested to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.