Global warming theory has put vegetarians in a new position, an altar from which they can preach that not only is eating meat morally wrong, but also destructive to the environment. No longer do they have to try to convince people that slaughtering cattle for beef is inhumane, they are newly armed by global warming alarmist calls to halt livestock breeding and meat production. They can adopt the claims that cow flatulence and burping release large amounts of methane into the air, that they are destroying the ozone layer and adding to the greenhouse gases that will ultimately cause further global warming.
But say we all gave up meat-eating tomorrow? What of the millions of cows now on ranches and farms? We can't expect the farmer to continue to feed these massive grazing machines for no return.
Why don't we set them free? Well, aside from the obvious logistical problem of over a billion cattle set loose to roam the earth, can they sustain themselves after thousands of years of domestication?
Apparently, they can. Once loosed, cows, like nearly every animal, revert to a life-in-the-wild mentality. For example, they have been trying to hunt down a herd of feral cows in the Santa Monica mountains for several years. Once freed, these dull-witted creatures reach far down into their genetic memories and tap in to find a way to survive and the wits to elude would-be captors.
However, that presents another problem. Feral cows are hazardous to the environment. They eat nearly everything in sight and have been known to "walk down" trees to get to the tender top by bending it to the ground. They will eat shrubs, grasses and any low-growing vegetation available. In fact, feral cows are listed on the Invasive Species Specialist Group's website which says in part: "Unless well contained by adequate fences, cattle wander into native vegetation wherever suitable food is available. If unchecked this can result in the formation of feral herds roaming wild through extensive areas of country." Wow, go cows, didn't think you had it in you.
Feral cattle can severely modify native vegetation by browsing, crushing and trampling (Aston 1912; Wodzicki 1950). In native forests they invariably lay bare the forest floor and eliminate nearly all young trees, shrubs and ferns, until only a few unpalatable or browse-resistant species remain. In subalpine environments feral cattle open up clearings by breaking down and browsing low-canopied vegetation.
So, not even considering the economic impact of depriving those who raise cattle of their livelihood and even allowing for the number of cattle we might allow dairy farmers for those who will drink milk and eat cheese even if they won't eat the meat, we still would have to deal with millions of animals that cannot be turned loose, even if there were land available for them to live on. I have searched through dozens of vegetarian websites and have not found their answer to this problem.
Do we have a global barbecue as a final meat feast and allow humans to gorge themselves on steaks and hamburgers until the last cow is eliminated?
What I want to know is, if we can't eat them and we can't let them loose, what do the vegetarians propose we do with them?