Philip Lymbery, Author and CEO of Compassion in World Farming on The Power of Food and the Failure of Factory Farming

Philip Lymbery is the author ‘Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were’ — this book takes you on tour of some of the world’s most iconic and endangered species, and what we can do to save them.

Food is a wonderful thing. It connects us, helps us express ourselves, defines and differentiates our cultures. The choices that we make at mealtimes, however, can have an immense impact beyond that which affects our daily lives.

When you think of penguins, jaguars and elephants, it’s probably unlikely that you think of the cheap meat piled up on our supermarket shelves. But there is a connection, and it is deeply worrying.

Bucking the trend: cattle on pasture in Idaho

Intensive palm plantations are causing deforestation on a massive scale in Sumatra. They are destroying the last of the critically-endangered Sumatran elephant’s habitat. Large quantities of palm kernel, the edible nut from the trees, is being shipped out to feed intensively farmed cattle and other farm animals in the EU. There are now only 2,500 Sumatran elephants left in the wild.

In Brazil, the ever-expanding soya monocultures are destroying the once rich and varied rainforests. For the jaguar, there is little left. They have been squeezed out of their homes, and the ranchers see them as pests, often shooting them on sight. There now remain only 15,000 jaguars in the wild, half of them in Brazil.

The jaguar’s home is now being destroyed to grow cheap feed for factory farming

Whether it’s the African Penguin in South Africa, the Humboldt Penguin in Peru, or the Galapagos Penguin in the Galapagos Islands, all face the same threat: commercial fisheries. Fish stocks are being plundered to be used as cheap feed for factory farmed animals, the very same fish which make up the penguin’s diet. The lack of food combined with climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and disease have severely impacted their numbers.

Defenders of factory farming claim that less land is used to farm the animals. What they don’t consider is the amount of land used and destroyed, to provide feed for farm animals kept in confinement. Often, this feed is produced halfway across the world, destroying the habitat of endangered native wildlife. Out of sight, out of mind?

Crucially, as I have discovered in writing my books, Farmageddon and Dead Zone: Where The Wild Things Were, factory farming fails to even achieve what it was it was conceived to do — feeding a burgeoning population.

Everyone has the power to change the world — three times a day, in fact: at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

As I travelled to research the books, everywhere I went, I found signs of hope for the future. I met farmers turning their backs on agrochemicals, pasture pioneers allowing farm animals to graze and forage, breaking free from their dependence on grain, and conservation champions making farming work with nature, not against it. It became clear to me the future of food is bright, but we must act now to make it a reality.

When animals are returned to the land in the right way — in well-managed, mixed and rotational systems — whole landscapes can come back to life, with a cascade of positive benefits for wildlife and farm animals alike.

Everyone has the power to change the world — three times a day, in fact: at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It starts with eating less, but better meat, from systems which are kinder to animals and the environment. To help save our precious wildlife from the brink of extinction, avoid factory farmed meat and dairy, instead choosing pasture-fed, free range or organic.

Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were by Philip Lymbery, RRP £12.99. Published by Bloomsbury, to receive a 30% discount order from www.bloomsbury.com and quote DEADZONE

Philip Lymbery is the CEO of leading international farm animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming and a prominent commentator on the effects of industrial farming. He is listed by The Grocer as one of the food industry’s most influential people. Under his leadership, Compassion’s prestigious awards have included Observer Ethical Award for campaigner of the year and BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming awards for best campaigner and educator. He is a lifelong wildlife enthusiast and lives in rural Hampshire with his wife and stepson. Philip is an avid blogger through www.acompassionateworld.org. Follow him on Twitter @philip_ciwf

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