What Would Happen If We Didn’t Kill Animals?

It’s a somewhat ambiguous question today so let’s zone in and be a bit more specific. When people ask this question of vegans they usually mean what would happen if we didn’t kill animals for food. There will always be collateral damage in the animal kingdom just by dint of humans existing.

What Would Happen If We Didn’t Kill Animals? (for food)

 If we didn’t kill animals, the strain we’re placing on the environment would reduce massively, we’d have much more agricultural land available to devote to growing crops and don’t worry, the animals would not overpopulate without humans intervening. I’ll explain …   

It’s a sad fact that we humans kill 80 billion land animals every year for our consumption. That’s around 220 million conscious, sentient beings having their lives brutally cut short … every single day!

It’s really difficult to visualise this number. How can it even be possible?

How have we ended up in a place, as a species, where we think it’s acceptable to engage in this barbaric practice? Where animals are seen as units of profit on a spreadsheet.

If there is profit to be made you can be damn sure the welfare of the animals comes in at a very distant second place. The evidence of this is clear for all to see … if you want to see it.

A ‘Vegan Utopia’ Is a Long Way Off

What would happen if we didn't kill animals? (the words 100% vegan overlaid on a dark photo)

I would love for every single government across the globe to pass a law banning the human exploitation of animals. No slaughterhouses. No dairy farms. No industrial chicken sheds … etc, etc.

In this vegan utopia we would all have plenty to eat (mainly because we’d have so much more land become available). We would live much more in harmony with our planet having evolved to the next phase of our existence.

But that is not going to happen any time soon.

Philosophical debates around topics like “what would happen to the animals if we all went vegan overnight” are, at best, mildly entertaining.

They serve little purpose however and actually detract from the task at hand.

That task is to chip away at the established ‘norms’, doing what we can and the best we can.

Veganism is doing just that, as we speak. Our numbers are growing rapidly and that means only one thing … less animals are being harmed every day, every month … and every year.

But what if we didn’t kill animals?

Would Animals Overpopulate Without Intervention?

Two spherical stones, one balanced atop the other.

Nature has a handy habit of reaching an equilibrium. In the wild, most animals live in harmony with their surroundings, allowing evolution to take place normally.

In fact, it’s generally accepted that humans are the only species incapable of finding that balance with nature. We’re always trying to ‘conquer’ the natural world with our technology.

So if we eventually got to a place where we just left animals alone to do their own thing, that equilibrium would be found. Cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and all the other animals we deem as worthy of exploitation would achieve their natural numbers in the wild.

Just as they used to before humans intervened with mass breeding programs and intensive agriculture methods.

The common myth that animals would overpopulate if left to their own devices is pure fantasy. We see absolutely no evidence of this in the wild. I wrote an article about it: “Would Animals Overpopulate If Everyone Was Vegan?“.

And actually, the way things are going, nature is trying to find a way of mitigating the profound effects humans are having on the planet.

We’re already seeing migrations of people in large numbers due to climate change and economic imbalance, among other factors. This will only increase in future.

We’d Have Way More Land For Crops

Many don’t realise quite how much global resource is needed to maintain the current situation. We call it ‘the norm’ … but it is far from normal.

What would happen if we didn't kill animals? (Graphic from Our World In Data showing global land use for food production)

77% plus of available agricultural land is used for either meat or dairy production [1]. That’s an estimated 40 million square kilometres of land devoted to animal ag.

So if we didn’t kill animals there would be all this extra land available for producing plant foods.

It’s also now well established that plant based foods are much more efficient at delivering the nutrition we need as humans … yes, including protein!

More land along with a more efficient feeding of the population. What’s not to like?

When you see these stats it’s difficult to argue any sort of case for the production of meat and dairy on the scale we see today.

Eating meat and drinking cow’s milk is slowly killing the planet!

Our Planet Earth Would Breathe a Sigh Of Relief

Yellow sign with the word 'breathe'.

The environmental impact of animal agriculture is also widely documented with study after study showing the negative effects.

Even a cursory search on Google returns nearly 2.8 million results for related research documents!

I mean, how much evidence do you need?

The production of beef, especially, places a massive strain on global resources. As countries become more affluent so the meat consumption increases.

Countries like India and China have an enormous burgeoning middle class and guess what they all want to eat?

Yep … McDonalds!

They look to us over here in the ‘civilised’ West and they see us enjoying our meat and dairy heavy diets. We can’t turn around and ask them to limit their diets in this regard when we’re still full steam ahead.

Even though we’re pretty good at hypocrisy in the Western World I think it’s a step too far to expect others to change if we won’t do the same.

Veganism Addresses These Problems Head On

As much as is practically possible, vegans eliminate all products where animals have been exploited in the production cycle.

By definition, a vegan is not responsible for the horrific treatment and untimely death of animals used in the agricultural cycle.

We choose, through what we put in our shopping basket, to make a stand against these barbaric practices. If you need any convincing of the abject terror experienced on the ‘kill floor’ then consider this quote from someone who worked in such a place …

Jeff Lerch, ex-slaughterhouse worker: 'Cows do think and have emotions. I worked the largest slaughterhouse on the planet, Iowa Beef (now run by Tyson Foods Inc). We killed 200 cattle an hour. When the cattle were moving close to the kill spot, they would weep, crying with big tears trembling with fear.'

Please consider going vegan and thanks for reading!


[1] – Hannah Ritchie. November 11th 2019. Retrieved 13th July 2022. Our World In Data. Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture. https://ourworldindata.org/global-land-for-agriculture



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