How Many Animals Does Harvesting Plants Kill?


Does farming plants kill animals? In short, yes—but when it comes to minimizing the amount of animal suffering worldwide, eating vegan is by far the best solution. It’s not about perfection. Being vegan is about reducing as much suffering as we can.

Unfortunately, understanding the extent of plant agriculture’s impact on animals is difficult because industries that profit by exploiting animals muddy the waters with skewed information. These industries make every argument imaginable in order to keep people from learning the truth.

This rancher from the television series Yellowstone is a great example:

Let’s clear this up: Being vegan is the most compassionate and effective way to protect animals and the environment.

  • Far more animals are killed for meat, eggs, and dairy than die when plants are harvested.
  • Most of the corn and soy grown today is used to feed farmed animals, and animal agriculture destroys the environment.
  • Eating vegan requires the harvesting of roughly 12 times fewer plants than feeding animals who will be killed for meat.
  • Growing and processing plant protein requires much less water than raising animals for meat.
  • Vegan materials are more sustainable than those made from animals.

People in some industries claim that animal suffering is necessary to turn a profit, but they could pivot to compassionate lines of work instead and achieve economic success without harming animals.

Does Harvesting Plants Kill Animals?

Animals are killed by pesticides (some unintentionally) or inadvertently by machinery when plants are grown or harvested.

But the meat, egg, and dairy industries are by far the biggest killers of animals around the world. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 39 million cows, 121 million pigs, 9 billion chickens, and countless others are slaughtered for their flesh every year. Not only does eating vegan prevent animals from being directly killed by the meat industry, it also prevents many small animals from being inadvertently killed when land is plowed and crops are harvested to feed farmed animals. The meat industry harvests a staggering amount of corn and soy to feed the animals it breeds and slaughters. The numbers speak for themselves: Approximately 65% more land is used to grow animal feed than plants for human consumption, and even more land is used (and destroyed) to house those animals.

To spare the most animals possible, cut out the middlecow and eat plants.

Animal Agriculture Depletes the Land

Most plant farms produce food for farmed animals, but animal agriculture harms the very land that feeds them through toxic runoff that contaminates water supplies, waste lagoons that emit dangerous fumes, and desertification. If we include other processes that exploit animals, such as leather production, which is poisoning the Ganges River and the humans who depend on it, the picture grows even bleaker.

It’s clear: One of the best ways to start saving our planet is to go vegan.

Super Vegans: Imagining a Better World

Vegans can help save the planet. We can protect animals from being killed by industrial farming, help plant agriculture develop responsibly, and create cutting-edge vegan materials.

As we work with what we have to reduce suffering in the world, technology continues to achieve remarkable breakthroughs, such as organs-on-chips that replace animal dissection, cell-based meat that’s cruelty-free, and vegan leathers. The future should be compassionate, and we’re helping to build it today.

If you’re considering going vegan, now is the best time to begin! Get your free vegan starter kit today.

If you’re already vegan and looking to brush up on your communication skills in order to deliver facts that cut through animal industry cover-ups, check out our free debate kits.


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