What if we made ranching illegal?
Now I know vegetarians are less than 10% of the population, and some portion of those aren’t even animal rights advocates, but eschew meat for reasons of health or simple preference. Nevertheless, this is a purely hypothetical question, probably more aimed at those who would support giving animals like cows, pigs and chickens a legal “right to life.”
So, let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that we (vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights advocates) somehow win over the vast majority of the population, and that most people now want to end animal agriculture, ban the selling of meat, etc. Whether we are imagining this in some hopeful, distant future, after decades of gradually winning over one person at a time, or combine our cause with the rapidly growing environmental movement, who know that the combination of deforestation and the overpopulation of farm animals, cattle especially, does just about as much environmental damage, especially in regard to global warming, as the combined effect of all the personal vehicles in the US, or whether I find a genie in a bottle and make a wish that it would become the majority opinion is irrelevant. However we might get there, what do we do then? What are we going to do with all the cows? Certainly, we’re not going to kill them all, which means their harmful effects on the environment will last as long as they do. Of course, we won’t be breeding them as they are now, so with sustained oversight, we could drastically reduce the populations in a couple of decades, but are we going to expect the same ranchers who previously were raising them for profit to suddenly start caring for their welfare when they know they will not be profiting from them? Would we have to provide financial incentives to keep them healthy? And if so, how would we measure that? If we merely used population counts, how could we insure that they weren’t breeding them to keep populations up? Or would we (the people, the government) have to buy or rent the land and hire caretakers and veterinarians to manage the Former Farm Animal Welfare Program?
I’m not trying to be a downer here, but I was just thinking, what if…and how?