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What If the U.S. Got Rid of All Livestock?

By   /  February 5, 2018  /  7 Comments

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What if we got rid of all livestock? Would that reduce greenhouse gases? And what would we eat inste
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  • Published: 3 years ago on February 5, 2018
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  • Last Modified: February 7, 2018 @ 1:37 pm
  • Filed Under: Consider This

About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. I’m only a few paragraphs into the article, and this quote alone impunes its credibility: “Animals are our only non-pill form of calcium, 3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12. ” Calcium–and in its optimally-absorbable form–is found in leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (and many other vegetables) and is found most abundantly in seseame seeds. Plant-based calcium is far more absorbable than dairy calcium, and its absorption involves no bone loss–as does dairy calcium. Essential fatty acids are ALL in plants, especially walnuts, flax seeds, leafy greans, other nuts and seeds and legumes. People who eat meat can be B12 deficient. Pill forms of B-12 are bacteria-grown. This is basic nutritional science.

  2. Burke says:

    Did this study include Bison, Elk, Deer and Pronghorn? Would the animal haters want to destroy them also; and, if not, who out there thinks they would not fill the void left by the removal of domestic animals?–at least partially.

    • Kathy Voth says:

      Hello Burke,
      This study included livestock only. In addition, I think it’s unfair and unkind to classify people asking these questions as “animal haters.” Rather, people everywhere are asking questions about how we manage our food system and the livestock that are part of that and what kind of environmental impacts we need to consider. I think that asking these questions is important and we should be thoughtful in our responses. As to your question about whether other animals might fill the void left by the removal of domestic animals, as the scientists in this study noted, they only studied one aspect of this large system and there are other things to consider. There are always more and more questions.

    • John Marble says:

      I guess I’m one who questions whether our wild ungulates would take up the eco-niche if we remove cattle from the equation. In the western half of the US we have tremendous amounts of non-tillable land that provides habitat for deer, elk, antelope and other species. Some of this land is privately held, some public. Replacing cattle with a similar biomass of wild species would be extremely challenging, and the conflict with humans would be intense. Beyond the carnage on the roads, the idea of our Wildlife agencies allowing a 10 or 100 or 1,000-fold increase in elk and deer numbers seems highly unlikely to me. Wildlife is viewed as a financial asset by our wildlife agencies, and our government sells tags and licenses in order to maintain specific populations. I believe the conflict caused by massive herds of wildlife would simply result in increased pressure to control those populations.

      Thinking back to old National Geographic films showing huge population of ungulates in Africa, you will note that all of the vehicles had huge protective bumpers due to the inherent conflict. I doubt Americans will stand for having to share the highway with herds of wild animals.

  3. Sandra Halpin says:

    Thank you for your article on a Livestock-free America. You raised some important issues, such as pet food. We Americans do love our dogs and cats! I do wish to correct a scientific error, however — calcium and other nutrients can ALL be obtained through several vegetables, including brocolli and spinach — the ONLY nutrient that meat and dairy provide that plants can’t is vitamin B-12, and any good vegan will attest to the need for supplemental B-12 in their diet. Just sayin’. 🙂

    • Kathy Voth says:

      From my read of the article, the authors agreed with you about the value of plants for nutrients. As I remember it, their conclusion was that it would be very difficult to grow enough to provide adequate nutrition to everyone. You might check the article and see what you think. I could have misunderstood.

    • Jem says:

      There is a difference between plant forms and animal forms of most vitamins, fats, and nutrients. We are terrible converters of plant-to-animal forms, such as the super important omega-3 DHA (from ALA, the plant form, we humans max out at 5% conversion). We also need fat in our diet to help us absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, and K, which in animals comes as a package (liver, milk, etc) but in plants needs to be combined. Unfortunately vegans miss this, and slowly erode their health away. We are hunter-gatherers, and any variance from this keeps us from health.

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