Aside from how the staggering number of cows on the planet affects greenhouse gas emissions, water and land availability, their presence actually does something much more worrying.

In the last 150 years, almost 50% of the world’s topsoil has become degraded.

95% of everything we eat comes from the soil.

And why is it degrading?

Because of over-intensive farming.

Cow Soil.jpg

It may be very very expensive and impractical to do, but at least we have some technologies for removing greenhouse gases from our atmosphere, and turning seawater into drinking water.

But one thing that none of our science and technology can do is replace fertile topsoil.

We attempt to recover degrading soil by adding fertilisers, but we're only dealing with a tiny part of the problem...

Degrading soil is losing its microbiome (the delicate balance of microorganisms, friendly bacteria, fungi etc.) that's responsible for capturing essential minerals from the air and the rain, and for strengthening the structure of the soil so it doesn't blow away in the wind or wash away in the rain.

Soil Erosion.jpg

It takes topsoil only a few decades to be destroyed by intensive farming, and hundreds or even thousands of years to recover.

The single biggest reason for the disappearance of fertile topsoil is humans growing crops to feed cows.

Some people claim that the planet only has 60 years of fertile topsoil remaining. This is based on averages, so is slightly misleading, but certainly some places in the world will soon be running very low.

According to Prof. Gidon Eshel at Harvard University, protecting our planet’s topsoil is the single most important reason to give up beef.