Green Food


Ways to Eat Green
Buy Local Food
Buy Fresh Food
Eat Less Meat
Eat Less Processed
Something Fishy
Amazon Avoidance
Buy Organic
Eat Less
Choosing Wisely
Grow Your Own
Waste Not Want Not
The Problems
High Prices?
Useful Pages
Environmental Consultants

Advice on:
Environmental Permits
Desktop Study

Amazon Forest Clearance for Food Crops

My father in-law have a herd of cows (cattle) which he grazes on the green hills of Devon. They are grass fed. They eat grass straight from the field for around 8 months of the year and silage for 4 months whilst kept indoors in barns.

In order to make sure the cattle have a complete diet, their grass feed is supplemented with a compound cattle feed. This comes in in pellet form and is delivered in a big lorry every month or so.

In order to make for a protein rich cattle food a very common ingredient in this food is Soy. As in soya beans.

Soy cultivation is a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon basin. Seeds from the soybean plant provide high protein animal feed for livestock, and 80% of Amazon soy is destined for animal feed; smaller percentages are used for oil or eaten directly. Today Brazil has 24-25 million hectares devoted to the growth of this crop, and is currently the second largest producer of soybeans in the world.

So even in the wilds of Devon, considering mainly grass fed beef, there is an Amazon Impact. The fact is that this soya impact is so far reaching that can even invade a vegetarian diet, some of the most popular vegetarian brands in the UK, are not clear about where they get their soya.

The Scale of Deforestation

The deforestation to grow soy, is not just limited to the Amazon, it extends far to the south and to the north countries such as Guatemala, have near complete deforestation in large areas. Pink shading in below image shows >75% tree loss since 2006.

2006 is when the SOY MORATORIUM was signed, which was supposed to slow deforestation. Effects have been limited, and complex. For example attempts to limit soy production have boosted prices, and led to illegal farming of soy in the wide areas of south and central American rain forests.

Products that Contain Soya

Zeolite Green peace article will blame this soya driven deforestation on the global meat and dairy industry and they are between 10% and 90% right in that respect.

Meat production does intensify soya use. To produce 1kg of beef we might need to feed a cow 25kg of soya, a ratio of 25-to-1. We could just eat the soya, and reduce that impact by 90%. However beef is a worst case. With chicken this ratio might drop to 3.3-to-1, as shown in the below graph. Meat and Dairy Production Graph.

So meat and dairy do "contain" the most soya potentially. But there is a great deal of generalisation when trying to assess impacts. Beef will never just be "beef", it should be divided in to grass fed, or intensive or average. It is hardly fair to compare a grass finished Devonshire bullock, to a intensively finished feed-lot American beef. But at the moment that is what happens. 

Vegans & Vegetarians

I am afraid vegans and vegetarians are not off the hook. After all soya is a great source of protein, and many vegan and vegetarian food are chock full of it. If you are looking for the cleanest conscious then you need to choose your proteins carefully.

There is an excellent guide form the Ethical Consumer, on choosing carefully, as you can see many big names are flagged as a concern, with Habitats and Resources being perhaps most relevant to this deforestation topic.


So what can we do about deforestation?

Here are Green Food's top tips for helping reduce deforestation:

1 - Eat less meat, unless you have studied how it is fed.
2 - If you must eat meat, eat high welfare chicken.
3 - If you can live with farmed fish, eat that.
4 - If you eat vegetarian choose wisly.
5 - Avoid meat and soy altogether*.

*This is a tricky and you would require careful dietary planning to ensure good protein sources. 


Google Maps Ranking


Environmental Consultants Bristol

Environmental Consultants Exeter

Environmental Consultants London