Do we really need animal products? And how much wild nature do we need on average?


Do we really need animal products? And how much wild nature do we need on average?

People will not voluntarily give up their lives to let other animal populations grow, so I think we need to find a balance between the human population and the other animal populations to reduce extinctions. Maybe if we can formulate and spread the idea that we need x amount of wild nature for a healthy and somewhat secure human economy then people will be motivated by it to change their behavior. How much wild nature do people need on average?

People will probably try to maximize the human population within those limits, which means they will try to keep using agriculture or superdiverse horticulture (so that agriculture becomes less prone to pests and diseases + horticulture uses no resource intensive machinery + the land can then be distributed to the people so you have less centralisation and possibility of corruption). My idea is that they will try to maximize the human population by not eating animal products because animal products require relatively more land to produce. But I think people will want to control the human population so that everybody can get the nutrients that they really NEED. My question is: what studies have researched which animal products we really need in order to have no health problems caused by a lack of certain nutrients? I can’t find no studies on it.


Very valuable question. My personal answer is no, as animal product is destroying the planet and we have all the means to stop using them. Here’s a small example:



Your questions seem, to me at least, full of “civilized” assumptions & bias. What are “animal products”? Do insects not pollinate the fruits (and “vegetables”), and do birds & mammals not disperse the seeds? Are they all alike not slaughtered to make way for near-dead fields of monoculture crops?

Some may take comfort in the wonders of modern science, such as our ability to synthesize whatever nutrients we need. But reliance on technology should be viewed with skepticism, as a growing cause of alienation that blinds us -vegans included- from our environment, our biology, and our instincts.

We (humans) have already surpassed the earth’s carrying capacity; collectively our race uses more than the earth can provide (fossil fuels make up the difference), and our demands are growing. Some will have to “give up their lives” or reproductive rights, voluntarily or otherwise. I believe the current estimate is that we use approximately 1.5 EARTHS-worth of resources, & if everyone in the world lived like Americans, we would need 5 earths (with ZERO wilderness btw, but that’s another term heavily tinted by the lenses of industrial civilization).

To your other point, what makes an “economy”? And what makes it “healthy”? “Secure”? I’d say an economy can only be either (let alone both) when all it’s members are free to engage or abandon it & still meet all of their needs.

Furthermore, the tactic of “we need x amount of such & such” doesn’t seem to wake people up from their stupor (it certainly doesn’t seem to be working as a climate change mitigation strategy).

For an idea of how much of the earth YOU use, see:


It is not more sustainable to be using animal products as opposed to vegetation that is useful for food or fibers for us, nor is it more natural, as it isn’t better for health as it would be to have food from animals. If you haven’t seen studies for this issue, look at the China Study. There are many studies that show the same sort of things, but no study was ever so extensive as the China Study. As long as vitamin B12 is being received (which comes from soil bacteria producing it) natural plant-based food without any processed food ever is really the healthiest.

Relevant for sustainable living with rewilding and living apart from civilization, there should be foraging and growing some useful vegetation mixed among compatible vegetation that is growing otherwise in the locality where such will go.


About animal populations growing, environments really need their natural predators, humans are not the ones to fill that role, they never contribute to the good of the environment that the natural predators of the environment do. If we lived with what is naturally healthiest for us, it would work.



You express the following assumptions:

but I very much doubt that the general population will accept any limit on growth at all. Most people love to take up all the space they can rather than hold it for others (in particular: non-humans). What makes you think that such a magic threshold exists?

Off on another tangent: if we eat only plants, using only electricity from windmills slashing insects and birds, does that count as not using animal products?


i shouldn’t be conversating online anymore, sorry


This simply isn’t true, tribal and/or nomadic peoples have played significant & sustainable roles (what I would call “contributing to the good”) in environments across the globe. Isn’t one of the main points of Rewilding that humans should be “natural predators”, as opposed to an unnatural plague?


By all means, brother, keep the discussion going!
Use our differences to learn & grow.

Why do you think humans will “maximize population” by “limiting animal products”? Sustainability-wise, we’re already overpopulated, & more & more people continue to consume more & more animal products. It just seems to me that scarce resources tend to inspire wars, not intelligent planning.

However, I’m also trying to figure out how your vision of the future fits into Rewilding: a Farm is a Farm is a Farm is unnatural. Can you shed some light in my ignorance?


It is true. We all need a more sustainable way. How many can be sustainable your way? Now a tiny fraction of wildlife that used to be there remains, and most of bird and mammal life now are the animals by the billions that are kept in horrible conditions for their shortened lives to be slaughtered for the preferences of many of us among people, though there is great suffering in health from it, while wildlife disappears.


I find the idea of choosing a lifestyle based on “how many” people it supports too anthropocentric for my rewilding vision, but since you’re asking about “my way”, I must say that I don’t eat factory farmed meat.

I agree with you that industrial agriculture poisons our world in many ways & mistreats animals (why I don’t eat it), but the view that holds all methods & levels of meat consumption as equal seems to gloss over some essential tenets of life.

Where wolves were extirpated, deer overbrowse what limited habitat remains, starving other animals, drastically altering the ecology, & spreading disease throughout their own populations. Hunting them not only provides people with meat, clothing, bone tools, brains for tanning, etc., but also connects human beings to their environment & makes deer (and other animal & plant) populations healthier. Aside from the civilized notion that animal life is more valuable than plant life, what’s wrong with subsistence hunting? Pastoralism? Free range chickens?

Eating meat won’t “destroy” the planet, but raising enough animals to feed 7 billion+ blind consumers enamoured with destructive & wasteful civilization/technology might. The same applies for farming plants.


How about this line of thought: What if everyone who wants to eat meat has to kill at least one animal per year? Would that at least bring people closer to the animal? And not leave all the “sad/unpleasant/‘filthy’ work” to others? Others that do not get paid well or honored for their role in our provisioning, because we all feel that the killing gets done in a dishonorable way?


I was thinking maybe horticultural societies could be a good intermediate step towards hunter gathering societies because then there may be enough time for a rewilding culture to establish.
Maybe it’s more effective to reach people where they are at and try to move along with the positive changes going on right now (towards sustainability) instead of prematurely advocating a hunter gathering lifestyle?


SharpRock, you think it is too anthropocentric? I would say living, as I would do, in the way that the world could support all doing, sustainably, is the desirable way, but you would say all living in the way you would is better? The world cannot handle that, just as civilization is not sustainable in this world. But thinking about that is too anthropocentric?


Natural apex predators are always few in number relative to hunted animals.


Do you think work done in slaughterhouses should be thought of as honorable? Even when as a business using a resource for more profit animals are bred to such high numbers, and rushed through the process of slaughtering, without proper killing, so suffering won’t matter in doing that? Consumers killing animals themselves would not treat animals as badly as that. But still, why, when it isn’t needed, for better health (I can show that), and more sustainable ways can be reached without it? I can’t change all others minds, I am alright with that, but I am on the side of the reality of the situation.



Oh dear, I guess you can read two diametrically opposite meanings in it the way I put it! What I intended to say, we all feel that the killing gets done in a dishonorable way, and I think that as a result we also do not honor the people who do the killing.
So then yes, it should be (but isn´t now) thought of as honorable, and in order to reach that way of looking at it by society, the way we kill animals needs to change to a honorable way.

Hope this clarifies things for you. Thanks for asking!


I agree that we can’t avoid a transition, I’m just far less certain that transition won’t involve famine & widespread resource wars resulting in billions of deaths. I just don’t see any sustainable way to provide for billions of human beings (and I’m in my last year working towards a degree in Sustainability if that means anything).

I also agree we should reach people “where they are at”, but to me this means recognizing the absurdity of magic, one-size-fits-all diets or food production systems. That people’s needs & the abilities of ecosystems to cope with those needs are vastly different across the globe is largely why we are such a diverse species. Let the Inuit hunt whales, and the Mbuti elephants, & if horticulture works for you & your environment, give it a go.
HOWEVER, hunter-gatherers do more than “hunt” and “gather”; they shape their environment to be more productive. They tend the forests so the fruit & nut trees produce more & the game (animals) keep coming; and this aspect of the lifestyle is what I wish to advocate.
We need more “wilderness”, but we also need to recognize that we can fit into the wilderness too.


To be clear, brother, I’m not entirely sure what exactly “my way” means to you. Particularly since I’m not advocating any one “way”.

But yes, I find the idea seemingly espoused by you and the original poster (that we should choose whichever lifestyle “sustainably” maximizes the human population) thoroughly anthropocentric. Please correct me if I misunderstand you there.
HOWEVER, I also disagree about the sustainability of providing for billions of people via industrial farming with fossil-fuel powered machinery, fertilizer, chemicals, etc & which also destroys ecosystems & limits diversity.

Which is why we should/ will have to reduce our numbers, & increase wildlife - we can agree about that, no? :slight_smile:

EDIT: Found another source of agreement - no one here is advocating for industrial meat production.


What makes you think that? I’d like to know more.