It is commonly accepted that the cattle industry is responsible for 91 percent of Amazon deforestation. However, the magnitude of the fires has now reached a new level. Scientists are now confirming that the ongoing destruction can have catastrophic consequences for Brazil and the world. So, it’s time to talk about the Amazon deforestation until it stops.

Alarming magnitude

Over the last few months, the deforestation rate was an area of Manhattan every day. This follows reports that the farmers were clearing land for crop fields and cattle ranches, as the new Brazilian government was opening up the region to economic activity. Fires are continuing to spread at a record rate, with local newspapers reporting on farmers’ organised “fire days”. The smoke from the fires has now traveled all the way to the Atlantic coast. This is causing dark skies over Sao Paolo, more than 2000 miles away.

According to the country’s National Institute for Space Research, Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, had over 72,000 fire outbreaks this year. More than half of them located in the Amazon. This number represents an 84 percent increase compared to last year.

The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world. It is a home to one million native people and three million species of plants and animals. The rainforest covers an area about half the size of Europe. It is a vital source of carbon that helps to slow down the pace of global warming. It also absorbs millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year. With deforestation, the rainforest’s capacity to absorb carbon emissions is reducing and the carbon they are storing is released into the atmosphere.

The changing landscape

Research suggests that avoiding or at least reducing meat and dairy products is the single most effective way to improve our environmental impact on the planet and care for our own health. With the world’ population increasing, the growth in food demand is predicted to reach between 59 to 98 percent by 2050. As a result, agricultural markets will be impacted. Farmers will have to increase agricultural land and enhance productivity. However, this might still not be quick enough to meet the growing demand. In addition, climate change driven water shortages, rising global temperatures and extreme weather changes will play a key role. To address this, a new approach to food is necessary. According to UN switching to a plant-based diet can reduce the burden on the environment and help to fight climate change.

In addition to environmental benefits plant-based diets are low in saturated fat, contain no cholesterol, are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.