Dr. Bill Ripple's Research Shows the Stark Destruction Caused by Grazing Cattle
Bill Ripple, PhD is Distinguished Professor of Ecology at Oregon State University. Over twenty years ago, he began researching the beneficial effects that wolves in Yellowstone have on that ecosystem. From there, he branched to investigating the key roles of large carnivores in ecological systems around the world. I explored his findings with him on this critical research, especially how it demolishes the fantasy that grass-fed beef is good for our planet.
Everywhere he looked scientifically, Dr. Ripple saw the same profoundly disturbing fact: wild carnivores were being persecuted to protect livestock. Humans, who eat meat but are biologically designed to eat plants, are killing the predators whose role in a balanced ecosystem is precisely to eat meat. Why? So that humans can consume the prey of actual carnivores.
About the time Dr. Ripple came to this troubling insight, he saw the documentary Forks Over Knives and became vegan immediately, adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet based on foods like beans, rice, corn, quinoa, potatoes, salads, and fruit. I asked him why the film had such a strong impact.
"Like Dr. T Colin Campbell, I grew up in a farming and ranching family," he shared. "The quality of the evidence that he and Dr. Esselstyn presented in Forks Over Knives moved me completely - I fell in love with the film. It changed the direction of my own research as I worked with scientists around the world on the ecological effects of human carnivory, which means humans eating other animals. Scientists who study predators typically use the term "carnivory," and I simply extended it to the eating habits of people. About this time, I also became deeply concerned about climate change and wanted to make a contribution to scientific understanding in this area, especially the effects of animal agriculture."
Grass-fed Beef and Climate
Dr. Ripple quickly began to focus on the impact of ruminants, especially cattle, on climate change. Ruminants are animals that ferment their plant-based food in a special stomach during digestion. Inseparable from this process, ruminants emit methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide. Dr. Ripple had a disturbing realization.