Amazon Rainforest Deforestation and the Beef Industry

Fire on a farm in the region of Novo Progresso, Pará, on 25 August.
Photograph: Lucas Landau/The Guardian

A Brief Introduction

60% of the Amazon rainforest lies within Brazil – at least it used to. This figure was once accurate, before the deforestation of the Amazon began to rise at an alarming rate, largely due to the growing interest in cattle ranching. Europe, North America, Central America, China and Russia are the biggest importers of Brazilian beef. This has resulted in a reliance on the importation of Brazilian beef, thus supporting and encouraging widespread deforestation throughout the Amazon Rainforest. These facts lead to an important question and one which needs to be addressed quickly if we are to repair the damage already done: Why are we supporting such unsustainable farming practices and the destruction of one of the most important ecosystems on earth? Read on to find out more and about how to make change as a consumer by voting with how you shop.

THE FACTS – CLEAR AND SIMPLE

Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of beef. This is something that should warrant celebration. However, there is little to celebrate. The Amazon has lost approximately one-fifth of its forest in the past three decades, according to One Green Planet. As a result of cattle-ranching, trees are being cut down on an exponential scale. Beef farming is responsible for 70 per cent of Amazon deforestation. Such extensive farming is encouraged and supported by the government of Brazil. This support comes in the form of grants and loans worth billions of dollars – it is hardly a surprise that farmers and normal, working people accept these grants in a bid to secure a source of income to provide for their families.

It is clear that education, a reform of government in Brazil and investment in the development of sustainable industry, are required in order to prevent the destruction of the rainforest. The purchasing power of consumers also plays a vital role in protecting the Amazon – by choosing to purchase beef which has originated in your home country, you are making a stand against the unsustainable beef farming methods used in Brazil.

Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, has rejected the fact that the Amazon is burning (a method used to clear the rainforest for cattle ranching). He is intent on claiming that it is a lie. However, a four-month ban on setting fires in the Amazon was announced by the government of Brazil (quite a contradiction of their previous statement), after the country was put under pressure to protect the rainforest.

Such a ban has proved to be a futile effort in protecting the Amazon, after satellite imagery captured in August 2020 showed more than 7,600 fires in Amazones (one of the nine states which forms the Brazilian Amazon).According to an article by Lucus Landao and Tom Philips published by the Guardian, more than 29,307 fires were recorded across the entire Amazon region in August.

A very pessimistic read, I know. But this is a crucial topic which needs to be discussed. If there is to be a world for future generations to live in, issues such as this must be addressed and acted upon now. The rainforests are vital for carbon dioxide absorption. Less trees = higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and a subsequent rise in temperature, ultimately leading to an uninhabitable earth. Not to mention the beautiful species, such as orangutans which we are losing along with the earth’s precious rainforests.

However, consumers have more power than they think. Make a stand with your money. You have purchasing power and you must use it. Buy locally produced beef where possible. If you’re on a budget – reduce your beef consumption or opt for vegetarian alternatives which are very affordable and widely available. Educate yourself on where your meat comes from. In the EU, we are lucky enough to have a great food traceability system in place. You are able to trace the origin of your meat from farm to fork. Do not hesitate in asking your local butcher where your beef has come from. Check the packaging in your local supermarket. Statements such as ‘packaged in Ireland’ probably means that the meat has been imported and has only been packaged in Ireland. If you’re from Ireland, buy Bord Bia quality approved beef where you can – you’ll know it’s Irish beef.

Action is needed immediately in order to save the earth’s rainforests. But change can be made through small steps, taken by ordinary people such as you and I. Educate others on this topic and encourage them to make a stand and fight for the rainforests and every species within them.

Photo by Stuart Jansen on Unsplash

Yoga for Mindfulness & Wellbeing

Photo by Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash

When I truly began to take an interest in the environment and about the things that I could change in my life that would have less of an impact on the earth, I felt as if I needed more focus. It was as if I couldn’t fully invest myself in the present moment, as my mind was busy with a traffic jam of thoughts. It was chaos in there.

In order to become more focused, I began exercising regularly and eating well. A while ago, I ended up beginning a two hour daily commute for work. I allowed myself to fall into a habit of neglecting exercise and not eating as well as I should have. When I would return home from work I would make up excuses as to why I wouldn’t exercise, blaming the commute for how tired I felt, instead opting to lie on the couch, munching on treats and indulging in mindless tv.

Realistically, it was when lockdown occurred that I took a step back and wondered what I had been doing for a year. I had been treating my job as if it was the only thing that mattered, as if it was on a pedestal above all else. I would tire myself out in work, and even further on the commute home. At no stage did I even consider that my physical and mental health might be suffering, the two being interlinked. When Covid happened, even though I was still working as normal, I realised it was imperative that I make some changes in my life. These didn’t need to be changes that required a massive commitment, but ones that I could insert easily into my lifestyle and daily routine and that I wouldn’t dread doing.

I began by going on a 20-30 minute run after work nearby my home, in order to increase my energy levels for the rest of the night after the commute. I soon realised how unfit I had become, which actually motivated me to increase my fitness level. Feeling very adventurous, after a week or so, I introduced a 20 minute daily yoga session. Since beginning my yoga journey, I feel much more focused, clear-minded and calm. I am definitely a person who gets stressed quite easily, so I find that practicing yoga definitely helps me.

My experience with yoga has been a positive one. After time, you’ll become much more flexible and at ease during your yoga practice. At the beginning, I was stretching in ways I never thought possible. My utter confusion at being instructed to go into the ‘downward facing dog’ was no doubt plastered across my face (luckily nobody was present to see). I soon learned that ‘child’s pose’ would be my favourite (my inner laziness strikes again).

When beginning my yoga journey, I was lucky enough to have stumbled across Boho Beautiful – a yoga channel on Youtube which is perfect for beginner yogi’s and which is free and accessible here. Juliana is a wonderful yoga and meditation teacher and her practices are incredibly relaxing and peaceful. I’ve tried numerous yoga channels on Youtube, with this one being by far my favourite.

If you haven’t already introduced yoga into your daily routine, I promise that you can only benefit from doing so. All you need is yourself, a yoga mat and 20 minutes out of your day. A small commitment for something that’s both good for your body and mind.

Namaste ❤