Shoppers around Sydney are being confronted with the true cost of their meat-eating habits as they head to grocery stores this week.
A PETA ad, which depicts a koala clinging to a branch that transforms into a fork stabbing a piece of meat, is displayed on 10 billboards in five major shopping centres in the area: Bankstown Central, Broadway Sydney, Castle Towers, Macquarie Centre, and Westpoint.
The text reads, “Eating meat kills koalas. Australian bushland is being destroyed to make way for the animals you eat.”
Why Eating Meat Is Killing Koalas
So many Australians want to save koalas from extinction, but many are unaware of the link between deforestation to clear areas for cattle and sheep grazing and the destruction of koalas’ habitat.
A recent report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that Australia has one of the highest rates of land clearing in the world, as 85% of the deforestation is occurring to create pastureland for cattle and sheep.
This isn’t the first time Australia has been named a deforestation hotspot – an earlier report by WWF in 2018 had similar findings. Then, a 2020 report commissioned by the New South Wales government found that “thinning for pasture expansion” is putting biodiversity at risk. Meanwhile, in Queensland, the government’s “Land Cover Change in Queensland: Statewide Landcover and Trees Study Summary Report: 2016–17 and 2017–18” found that over 90% of the clearing recorded between 2016 and 2018 was for “pasture”.
The land being cleared is home to Australia’s native animals, including koalas, who already lost substantial portions of their habitat in the 2019 to 2020 bushfires. Lambs and cows on people’s dinner plates aren’t the only sensitive, intelligent animals to have died for human meals.
Crops Aren’t the Culprit
Sure, we all need to eat, but study after study has shown that animal agriculture is an extremely inefficient use of land.
The most comprehensive analysis of land use to date, published in the journal Science, found that raising livestock provides just 18% of the calories consumed by humans but takes up 83% of farmland. The research showed that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the size of Australia, China, the European Union, and the US combined – and still feed the world.
What about the wheat, barley, and sorghum being grown around Australia? Almost two-thirds of our domestic market grains are commandeered by animal feed producers.
Help Koalas (and Other Animals) Three Meals a Day
In recent months, politicians in New South Wales battled over a piece of legislation that focused on koala habitat, and the leader of the National Party argued that making it more difficult to clear land would be a “nail in the coffin” for farmers.
The government has now agreed to the new rules, but most private rural land – or farmland – is exempt, a move which the Nature Conservation Council said was like signing a death warrant for koalas.
Nonetheless, you can vote against this measure with your wallet. Our ad campaign is designed to empower shoppers and inform Australians that while there are many threats to koalas, animal agriculture is one we can all tackle daily, simply by leaving meat off our plates.
Are you ready to help koalas?